Tech Investments May Ring in More Business for Kenyan Call Centers

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In a recent blog post, we noted that the outsourcing industry is beginning to look a lot like the United Nations, with countries around the globe positioning themselves as alternatives to offshore heavyweights like India and China.


One of the countries mentioned in the CRM Buyer article we cited is Kenya. Looking back through our archives, we discovered stories from last summer with a similar tone, touting Africa as "the next big thing" in offshore call centers.


Turns out that this prediction was just a tad bit optimistic. While Kenya does have an inexpensive labor force with impressive English language skills, it lacks a reliable telecommunications infrastructure. Because of severely limited bandwidth options, call centers there must rely on glitchy satellite connections, reports a Reuters article published in PCWorld.com.


Despite the hurdles, Kenya's call center industry has grown to be a $5 million a year business, with some 3,000 workers. It could get a lot bigger, thanks to the country's $100 million investment in The East African Marine Systems (TEAM) project, which involves laying fiber-optic cable to connect Mombasa with Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates.


The Reuters article notes that opportunities for Kenya and other countries are opening up as more call centers in India employ workers from rural areas -- who typically have heavier accents, but are willing to work for less than their big city peers.