The nascent information and communications technology (ICT) sector in Africa, which started a decade or so ago from a single call center established by Kenyan nationals has demonstrated unparalleled growth pace in the past few years. There were three major changes that were instrumental to this growth trend that occurred over the past two decades.
The first of these was the African consumer's unexpectedly fast adoption of ICT services as a result of which in the 2000s, 11 million people in Africa had mobile phones which grew exponentially till it reached 400 million users. The continent also witnessed steady growth in internet access increasing from 3 million users in 2000 to more than 100 million in 2010, while as of 2017, Kenya had an internet penetration rate of 66% with 31,985,048 of the country’s 48,466,928 total population having access to internet. This pace of ICT adoption in Africa had defied all predictions which led to the call center phenomenon on the continent to become a success story.
Keeping pace with this growth, the Kenyan parliament also adopted an ambitious plan to transform the country into a regional ICT hub, the national regulators asked operators to extend coverage to rural areas in exchange for reduced licensing fees. It also required them to bring down their charges for mobile phone banking so that the country was better positioned to position itself as a call center friendly nation. As part of the government's Vision 2030 initiative, Kenya's call center sector had also been identified as a key source of development and employment creation. With this upward trend continuing, Kenya took another step to become more closely wired to the rest of the world with the construction of a series of undersea cables in 2009 which lowered costs substantially to put Kenya on the map of the outsourcing sector.
Kenya's historical ties with the UK, which means it has similar accountancy and legal systems, also offers opportunities for outsourcing firms in the region. The director of a leading IT company which also offers call center services said in an interview that the call center industry still has a lot of potential in the African market considering how ICT was entrenched in the economy. With the global call center industry estimated to currently being worth $160 billion and a projected growth of $250 billion by 2022, the Kenyan call center sector is putting in it's resources, so as to not miss out on this piece of the pie.
To this end, the Call Center Transformation Forum is being hosted in Nairobi, Kenya from 21-23 June 2017 by Fleming. The conference would feature panel discussions, fast fire sessions, case studies, debates and a dedicated learning day to understand the challenges and formulate effective solutions to deal with the various scenarios in the call center sector.
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