Western Cape Offers Free Telecoms to Attract International Call Centres
Today, Western Cape Minister of Economic Development, Alan Winde, announced an incentive that will significantly boost the Western Cape's Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) sector, unlocking growth and jobs for the province.
The incentive, in partnership with Internet Solutions, offers free internet, voice and data services for a period of six months to companies that set up call centres in the Western Cape that service clients in offshore markets.
This is a first for South Africa.
At the announcement, Winde said: "This incentive targets companies that are contemplating moving their BPO services to the Western Cape, but need some extra encouragement. Internet Solutions has come on board by offering each company free telecommunication services worth R1.5 million for every 200 agents they employ, a deal that would be hard to match anywhere in the world."
The Western Cape's call centre industry is currently worth an estimated R6 billion to the region's economy and employs 30 000 locals. The Department of Economic Development and Tourism aims to create an additional 10 000 call centre seats in the province within the next three years.
"We are focusing on this sector because it is labour intensive and has a relatively low barrier to entry. Indeed, 70% of all employees are between the ages of 18 and 35 and carry only a matric. Creating opportunities for our youth to become employed is my top priority", said Winde.
Regional Head of Internet Solutions, Stuart Birch, said: "Internet Solutions was pleased to come on board with this incentive because if the Western Cape BPO sector grows, so does our client base. We are convinced that companies will take up permanent residence in the Western Cape once the six-month trial period is completed because we have a world-class offering that is very competitively priced."
This incentive, which was brokered by the Western Cape Economic Development and Tourism Department, complements the national incentive for the offshore BPO sector, which provides wage subsidisation for local employees for the first three years of operation (year one = R40 000 per employee; year two = R40 000 per employee; year three = R32 000 per employee). Together, these incentives reduce the cost of operations in the first six months by 50%.
The Department of Economic Development and Tourism has also implemented a training programme for call centre agents. Last year, 310 jobless youths were trained under the scheme, and 309 have subsequently become employed.
Winde concluded: "We are building the Western Cape into an attractive place to live and work by increasing our competitive edge in terms of pricing and by building an appropriately skilled workforce. Major players, such as Bloomberg and Amazon, have recognised this and have chosen to base their operations here. This incentive will induce others to follow suit and puts us on track to build the Western Cape into a world-class BPO and call centre hub."