Why more countries are turning towards the BPO sector in South Africa

Mark Chana
3 min readJan 20, 2021

Businesses from countries including the US, the UK and Australia are increasingly turning towards South Africa to outsource business services. Here’s why South Africa is fast becoming one of the most sought-after destinations for offshore service outsourcing.

South Africa has been growing in strength as a destination for Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) and service-based contact centres. And while India still topped the table of most favoured offshore destinations in 2020, South Africa came in second for the third consecutive year.

This was according to the Ryan Strategic Advisory’s Front Office BPO Survey 2020, which assessed more than 500 decision makers from different sectors across 42 countries.

South Africa is poised to grow its BPO sector even further
As we enter 2021, South Africa has firmly cemented its position as a true global player in this market. And while 2020 was a year of unprecedented challenges for businesses everywhere, the South African BPO sector has proven its resilience and strength even at times of economic and social crisis.

Costs matter more than ever in a world that is dealing with multiple social economic factors, including the ramifications of Brexit, the US election and the pandemic. Businesses are increasingly seeing the benefits of outsourcing parts or all of their service operations, and naturally seek out the most cost-effective and high-quality destination.

The sector now employs 260,000 people, 65,000 of which are contact centre agents working on service clients from the US, the UK, Europe, Australia and Africa. According to the Business Process Enabling South Africa (BPESA) employment grew by 34% between 2019 and 2020 for this sector in South Africa between 2019 and 2020.

This means 15,000 newly created jobs in a year that saw many sectors struggle to keep their workforce employed. And more than 13,000 of these roles went to people in South Africa aged between 18 and 35. It’s encouraging to see that many contact centres throughout the country agree with CCI South Africa’s policy of recruiting from previously disadvantaged population and areas. The truth is we have a huge available workforce of young people with untapped potential, and the contact centre industry is providing opportunities, jobs, training and security.

Factors behind countries choosing South Africa for their outsourcing

There are many reasons countries are choosing South Africa as a BPO destination, including but not limited to:

· Cost savings without any drop in quality

· The convenience and security of share linguistics. Language compatibility is a huge reason why we are able to provide truly high levels of customer experience and it’s reassuring for clients who need to know that they can rely on the BPO contact centre.

· The benefits of a stable and secure regulatory framework.

· High standards of health and safety.

The sector’s strength has been proven in the most extreme of circumstances. When the pandemic hit South Africa, many contact centres services were immediately designated ‘essential services’. And with rapid and comprehensive measures, the industry reacted quickly and comprehensively.

At CCI South Africa, for example, we were able to totally reorganise the way we work. By implementing rigorous social distancing, cleaning protocols and a distributed work system with many staff working from home, we were able to ensure everyone is safe and our services continued. In some ways, the challenges forced on the world by COVID-19 has only highlighted South Africa’s strengths as a business process outsourcing destination.

As we all hope to see the end of the crisis in 2021 following vaccination rollouts, South Africa’s BPO sector is in ideal place to enter another period of sustained growth. A number of major initiatives are underway to further boost the sector. Industry bodies, the government and BPO providers are working together to ensure South Africa will become the number one destination for offshore outsourcing over the next few years.

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Mark Chana
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I’m Mark Chana, Group COO of CCI Global and former Managing Director of CCI South Africa — www.markchana.com/mark-chana