SA scoops top global spot for providing IT, legal, accounting and call centre services

The global business services sector, which includes call centres, continued operating throughout the 2020 lockdown as it was deemed an essential service. (Getty Images)
The global business services sector, which includes call centres, continued operating throughout the 2020 lockdown as it was deemed an essential service. (Getty Images)
  • Having been placed second for three consecutive years, South Africa has finally scored the top global spot for delivering business services.
  • The global services sector includes IT, legal, accounting and call centres - which support back and front office work of multinationals and SA firms.
  • The sector was considered an essential service and could continue its operations throughout the pandemic.

South Africa has scored the top spot as a preferred destination for providing global business services, a survey shows.

The country had been placed second for three consecutive years of the Ryan Strategic Advisory's Annual Front Office BPO (Business Process Outsourcing) Omnibus Survey. SA beat India, which placed second and the Philippines, which was joint third with Malaysia and Poland.

These services - such as IT, legal, accounting and contact centres - are geared toward supporting back and front office work of multinationals and SA firms.

Peter Ryan, principal analyst at Ryan Strategic Advisory, said that the sector had come a long way since 2004 when it was "heavily focused" on the domestic market and was fragmented along provincial lines. He attributed the change to "'aggressive promotion" in target markets along with a strong value proposition.

"The key to remain in this coveted position for South Africa will be to maintain its focus on visibility to buyers around the world and to continually evolve the country's BPO value proposition in a way that reflects consumer preferences."

According to the latest newsletter from President Cyril Ramaphosa, over 600 executives from eight key sourcing markets such as Australia, Germany, the UK and US are surveyed.

Ramaphosa said South Africa's attractiveness as a global business service destination is bolstered by the country's "sophisticated" digital infrastructure, a young and skilled workforce, proficiency in English and being positioned in a similar time zone to key export markets. "These unique attributes have provided us with a strong foundation to work from," Ramaphosa said.

The Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (DTIC) and the industry association Business Process Enabling South Africa -worked to attract investment in the sector by promoting South Africa to targeted markets.

"No serious multinational company looking to enhance its back and front office work can overlook the quality and value South Africa offers," said Malebo Mabitje-Thompson, deputy director-general for industrial financing at the DTIC.

The sector managed to continue operations throughout the 2020 lockdown brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic, the country's Global Business Services sector noted in a statement on the award.

"The sector was deemed an essential service, allowing for services to continue for domestic and international global essential service-related clients and their customers.

"The sector's ability to continue providing services resulted in thousands of new seats, and consequently jobs, to support new and growth client needs," the statement read.

Growth in global demand for services is expected, potentially supporting employment for 500 000 people, mostly youth, by 2030.

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