Gauteng's township economy: The perfect Global Business Services Hub on the rise

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Alex Mall (Image: Supplied)
Alex Mall (Image: Supplied)

With the largest economy in the country, Gauteng is expanding its offering to businesses in the township economy to foster further economic growth and create more jobs in the Global Business Service (GBS) sector.

The GBS sector – which includes support for the gig economy, call centre operations, customer services, shared services, and labelling data for machine learning – is poised to be a game changer for youth employment in Gauteng’s townships. Research (by Deloitte) shows that 87% of the jobs created by the sector last year went to people under the age of 35.

In line with the recent passing of the Gauteng Township Economic Development Act which aims to facilitate and promote inclusive economic growth. The Gauteng government has designated the township economy as a prime location to host GBS.

"The economic development of our townships is one of the drivers that will transform Gauteng and the lives of its residents, bringing us to a growth rate of more than 3.5% and decreasing unemployment in the province by 20% by 2030," says premier David Makhura.

The Gauteng government, in partnership with private sector and GBS operators, has a focused programme to create a conducive environment – in the form of infrastructure, connectivity and work force – to establish township GBS hubs that will service local and international business clients. The first GBS hub will be at Jabulani in Soweto, where the recruitment and training of local youth is already underway. This will then be followed by similar hubs in: Nasrec, Alexandra and Thembisa during the course of the current financial year.

Untapped talent within townships

The roll-out of these GBS hubs in townships has the potential to offer employment to thousands of young people. These hubs, according to Gauteng Economic Development, Environment, Agriculture and Rural Development MEC Parks Tau will allow for various customer service and digital outsource businesses to come together at one site to enjoy the benefits of scale close to the huge pool of capable young workers in townships. "These youths are hungry, skilled and ready to work. They have been trained through projects like the Tshepo 1Million programme – a Gauteng youth empowerment initiative designed to help young work-seekers access free resources, support and a range of opportunities through the province’s data-free mobile-site," adds Tau.

Goitsione Motloung, the chief director of tertiary services sector & industry development at the Gauteng Department of Economic Development, says that "partnerships with private sector companies that are helping to set up these hubs, are critical to the successful roll-out of the envisaged township hub plans".

"In order to capitalise on these growth opportunities, the Gauteng Provincial Government, together with the private sector and industry players, will need to bolster the township’s GBS value proposition. Based on survey findings, many townships already offer access to large pools of talent, with a mix of available skills across voice and digital channels. Investments and initiatives that attract relevant skills to townships that lack them and invest in building out digital capabilities could help to boost competency across Gauteng’s entire township economy," he says.

The provincial government is also working to accelerate the creation of township connectivity zones or township cloud zones.

"We are working with private sector telecom operators. These will be deployed by fast-tracking the installation and roll-out of fibre for digital connectivity in townships, ensuring reliable high-speed connectivity. The establishment of cloud zones will create new opportunities within the sector such as work-from-home solutions and online worker pools, thereby enabling vibrant economic centres within previously disadvantaged communities," says Motloung.

This exciting initiative by the Gauteng Provincial Government, will feed into the Growing Gauteng Together 2030 (GGT2030) strategy which aims to double the size of the province’s economy and employment numbers as well as grow exports and reduce poverty by the year 2030.

In the next article, we will chat about the opportunities for work-from-home solutions and online worker pools in Gauteng’s townships.

This post was sponsored by the Gauteng provincial government.

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