News / Africa

Uganda Looks to Outsourcing to Boost Employment

FILE - Men work on their laptops at the Endiro Cade in Kampala.FILE - Men work on their laptops at the Endiro Cade in Kampala.
x
FILE - Men work on their laptops at the Endiro Cade in Kampala.
FILE - Men work on their laptops at the Endiro Cade in Kampala.
Seeing the jobs and opportunities that outsourcing has brought to India, Uganda has opened up a business process outsourcing center and has been training people in Internet technology.  The whole Great Lakes region is hoping that foreign companies will move key functions to Africa and bring down soaring unemployment. But  Uganda's lack of IT infrastructure could hold the country back.

Flavia Aliteesa’s job may consist of little more than data entry, but still, the 26-year-old Ugandan IT graduate considers herself lucky to have a job at all.  Many of her classmates, she said, have been unemployed for years.

“First of all, I was given an opportunity to start working, otherwise I would have been seated back home doing nothing.  At least it has given me a sense of independence, since I earn and I can do something on my own,” said Aliteesa.

Aliteesa works for a Kampala-based company called Techno Brain, which provides business process outsourcing, or BPO, to foreign firms.  The Ugandan government is hoping companies like this will be the wave of the future.

Inspired by the success of countries like India, which has become a major outsourcing hub for Western companies, Uganda has been subsidizing its fledgling BPO industry by providing free office space and Internet in a new BPO incubator in Kampala.  The government has trained hundreds of graduates in BPO skills like IT, and plans to train thousands more.

James Saaka, head of the National Information Technology Authority, said BPO jobs could be the answer to Uganda’s pressing problem of youth unemployment.

“It’s a very active job, so it suits the young people.  Let the young people be employed and get them off the street.  Let them get the experience they need, and tomorrow they will become the entrepreneurs,” he said.

With its English-speaking population and time-zone proximity to Europe, East Africa could be an attractive location for call centers and data processing, said Rogers Karebi, head of the Uganda BPO Association.  Plus, he added, labor in other countries is growing more expensive.

“Quite a number of firms in India, Asia and the Middle East have stepped up their prices, so the cost of outsourcing to the initially indigenous BPO destinations is on the rise.  So, quite a number of firms in the demand markets are actually looking for alternative places to outsource to,” said Karebi.

But there are big differences between Uganda and India, not least of which is the cost and reliability of the Internet.  Karebi admited that this could be a big drawback in developing Uganda as a BPO destination.

“Comparatively, right now, you find that on average, we are paying about $708 per megabyte.  When you go to India, it’s close to $50.  You cannot compete at that level,” he said.

Most analysts agreed that the cost of Internet in East Africa would eventually come down.  But even this might not be enough, said outsourcing expert Stephan Manning of the University of Massachusetts.  At the end of the day, he said, the region just might not have anything special to offer.

“These services need to be distinct enough so that they don’t enter price competition.  And that’s exactly the problem.  In Kenya, if you provide English-speaking call center operations, then you do nothing different than the Filipinos or India, and there’s no way you can compete on costs,” he said.

Manning suggested that the solution may lie in the regional market.  By offering outsourcing services to neighboring countries, he said, Uganda could avoid competing with Asia.

In the meantime, thousands of Ugandan graduates like Aliteesa are hoping these new companies will find some way to prosper.

You May Like

Australia-Cambodia Resettlement Agreement Raises Concerns

Agreement calls for Cambodia to accept refugees in return for $35 million in aid and reflects Australia’s harder line approach towards asylum seekers and refugees More

India Looks to Become Arms Supplier Instead of Buyer

US hopes India can become alternative to China for countries looking to buy weapons, but experts question growth potential of Indian arms industry More

Earth Day Concert, Rally Draws Thousands in Washington

President Obama also took up the issue Saturday in his weekly address, saying there 'no greater threat to our planet than climate change' More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: nsubuga ali bashir from: kuwait
October 29, 2013 5:32 PM
Such initiatives are welcome but in countries in africa and uganda specifically such opportunities goes to government favourites

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?i
X
Steve Sandford
April 17, 2015 12:50 AM
Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Sierra Leone President Koroma Bemoans Ebola Impact on Economy

In an interview with VOA's Shaka Ssali on Wednesday, President Ernest Koroma said the outbreak undermined his government’s efforts to boost and restructure the economy after years of civil war.
Video

Video Protester Lands Gyrocopter on Capitol Lawn

A 61-year-old mailman from Florida landed a small aircraft on the Capitol lawn in Washington to bring attention to campaign finance reform and what he says is government corruption. Wednesday's incident was one in a string of security breaches on U.S. government property. Zlatica Hoke reports the gyrocopter landing violated a no-fly zone.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.
Video

Video Sidemen to Famous Blues Artists Record Their Own CD

Legendary blues singer BB King was briefly hospitalized last week and the 87-year-old “King of the Blues” may not be touring much anymore. But some of the musicians who have played with him and other blues legends have now released their own CD in an attempt to pass the torch to younger fans... and put their own talents out front as well. VOA’s Greg Flakus has followed this project over the past year and filed this report from Houston.
Video

Video Iran-Saudi Rivalry Is Stoking Conflict in Yemen

Iran has proposed a peace plan to end the conflict in Yemen, but the idea has received little support from regional rivals like Saudi Arabia. They accuse Tehran of backing the Houthi rebels, who have forced Yemen’s president to flee to Riyadh, and have taken over swaths of Yemen. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA, analysts say the conflict is being fueled by the Sunni-Shia rivalry between the two regional powers.

VOA Blogs