Government to address operating challenges in BPO sector

The global business process outsourcing (BPO) market is currently valued at more than $262 bn, with African countries continuing to emerge as the next growth frontiers

By Silas Apollo

The government will work tirelessly to maintain the country’s competitiveness as an ideal destination for ICT-based export-led labour services.

This is according to the State Department for Information Communications Technology (ICT) and Digital Economy Principal Secretary John Tanui who said that the government was keen on working with investors to help spur growth of tech investments in Kenya.

Speaking when he toured the Nairobi operating hub for Sama, a provider of data annotation solutions that power Artificial Intelligence (AI) models, PS Tanui said that the government has embarked on strategic processes to clear operating barriers facing players in the BPO sector.

Tanui said that as part of a strategy to facilitate technology firms’ investments in Kenya, the government is working to establish more than 1,450 digital hubs in every ward countrywide linked by a robust fibre optic backbone infrastructure.

Such connectivity, he said, will help boost ongoing capacity-building efforts to facilitate more than 1 million jobs in the ICT sector.

Sama Global chief executive officer Wendy Gonzalez said that Kenya, which currently employs more than 3,500 Kenyans and projects to increase the number by 2,500 by next year, could stand to lose more than 2,500 jobs earmarked for Kenyan youth.

“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,” Tanui said.

BPO Chairperson Roselyn Maundu, Sama Global CEO Wendy Gonzalez, PS John Tanui and Sama Director Annepeace Alwala.

He added that it is in the government’s interest to secure such employment by addressing legal and related barriers in the BPO sector.

“The government is committed to securing these 2,500 jobs by Sama as we race to formulate the necessary policies and regulations to accelerate the growth of players in the BPO sector,” Tanui said.

The global BPO market, Ms Gonzalez said, is estimated to be valued at more than $262 Billion, with African countries continuing to emerge as the next BPO growth frontiers. She noted that the sector is critical in developing 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 $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.

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