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

Kurdish Party Pushes Political Gamble to Run in Turkey Poll

HDP announces it will run as political party instead of fielding independent candidates in June election, but faces tough 10 percent threshold More

Twitter Targets Islamic State

New research shows suspending Twitter accounts of Islamic State, its supporters has been effective; group, its backers are facing 'significant pressure,' says terrorism expert More

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

Majur Juac made the leap from being a refugee in Africa to a master chess champion in US, where he shares his expertise with students 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.
NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Spacei
X
Rosanne Skirble
January 27, 2015 5:05 PM
The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Saved By a Mistake - an Auschwitz Survivor's Story

Dagmar Lieblova was 14 when she arrived at Auschwitz in December 1943, along with her entire Czech Jewish family. All of them were to die there, but she was able to leave after several months due to a bureaucratic mix-up which saved her life. Now 85, with three children and six grandchildren, she says she has a feeling of victory. This report by Ahmad Wadiei and Farin Assemi, of RFE/RL's Radio Farda is narrated by RFE’s Raymond Furlong.
Video

Video Weekly Protests in Korea Keep Japanese WWII Atrocities Alive

Every week in Seoul protesters gather in front of the Japanese Embassy to demand an apology and reparations from Tokyo for the thousands of South Korean women who were forced into prostitution during World War II. Although this year marks the 70th anniversary of the end of the war, these protestors have helped keep the issue of comfort women alive and made it difficult for Japan to move beyond its past wartime atrocities. VOA's Brian Padden reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Exercise: New Prescription for Parkinsons Disease

Exercise could be the new prescription for Parkinson's Disease, a progressive disorder of the nervous system that affects movement. More than six million people worldwide suffer from Parkinsons and they're traditionally treated with medication and surgery. Shelley Schlender has more.
Video

Video Brussels Shaken as New Greek Leader Challenges Europe’s Austerity Drive

Greece’s youngest-ever prime minister, 40-year-old Alexis Tsipras, was sworn in Monday after his victorious far-left Syriza party entered a coalition with far right rivals. Tsipras says he will restore dignity to Greece by ending spending cuts. So begins a new chapter for the country at the epicenter of Europe’s economic crisis - a change that has sent tremors across the continent, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Oil Price Drop Troubles Texas Producers

As oil prices have fallen over the past several months, drilling operations have slowed in some parts of the United States - including Texas, the state that surpasses all others in energy production. The Lone Star State’s energy output has been boosted in recent years by development of resources trapped deep below ground in the Eagle Ford shale deposit, which stretches across south central Texas. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Karnes City, Texas, the drop in oil prices has created concerns,
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid