The Government of Kenya has promised to maintain the country’s competitiveness as an ideal destination for ICT-based export-led labour services.
The State Department for Information Communications Technology (ICT) and Digital Economy Principal Secretary Eng John Tanui affirmed investors in the sector when he toured the Nairobi operating hub for Sama. The PS assured that the Government has embarked on strategic processes to clear operating barriers facing players in the Business process outsourcing sector.
As part of a strategy to facilitate technology firms’ investments in Kenya, the Government, he said, is working to establish more than 1450 digital hubs in every ward countrywide linked by a robust fibre optic backbone infrastructure. Such connectivity will help boost ongoing capacity-building efforts to facilitate more than 1 million jobs in the ICT sector.
Recent legal events have created a chilling effect on the growth of the BPO sector. Sama Global CEO Wendy Gonzalez indicated that Kenya could stand to lose more than 2,500 jobs earmarked for Kenyan youth as part of the firm’s growth plans this year, but more importantly, growth of the BPO sector as a whole. Eng Tanui said it is in the Government’s interest to secure such employment by addressing legal and related barriers.
“Sama is a global organization that currently employs more than 3,500 Kenyans and projects to increase this number by 2,500 by next year. I have heard their concerns, and I can confirm that the Government will relentlessly work to address operating challenges affecting Kenya’s competitiveness in the global market,” Eng Tanui said.
During the tour, Sama CEO Ms Gonzalez and Sama Vice President of Global Delivery, Annepeace Alwala, welcomed the Government’s assurance to address operating challenges as it seeks to grow and continue its long track record of growth in Kenya.
The global BPO market, Ms Gonzalez said, is estimated to be valued at more than US$ 262 Billion, with African countries continuing to emerge as the next BPO growth frontiers. She shared that The BPO sector is crucial in developing Artificial Intelligence (AI) systems that power the Automotive, Retail, Agricultural and Food technology sectors.
“Economic players are investing heavily in AI, with such investments now estimated to top US$ 2 trillion by 2030. Notably, the AI sector is a growth line for players in the BPO sector as it requires substantial human support to build and validate input data,” Ms Gonzalez said. She added, “Sama has been in Kenya for the last 15 years and continues to provide quality formal jobs for Kenyans, providing value chain AI solutions for self-driving cars, virtual reality gaming consoles, fashion segmentation and Agricultural solutions for crop disease protection.”