Picture: SUPPLIED
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SA’s burgeoning call-services sector, which gets more than half its work from Britain, could attract larger inflows as the effect of Brexit weighs and companies seek savings by moving operations offshore, industry officials said on Wednesday.

Cultural affinity, good English language skills and similar time zones helped spur the sector seeking to compete with India and the Philippines in a global industry worth $89bn in 2017. "When there is uncertainty, the outsourcing industry blooms. Obviously there is huge uncertainty around Brexit and that provides outsourcing opportunities... to countries such as SA" said Kerry Hallard, president of the London-based Global Sourcing Association.

"SA is building itself a reputation for customer service and if it carries on promoting that then it could really benefit from Brexit immediately," she said on the sidelines of an industry conference in Cape Town.

According to Everest research firm, SA’s global services market grew about 22% a year over the past four years, twice the global industry growth rate. Supported by a government incentive scheme that pays investors for each job created, the sector now employs about 40,000 people.

Highly skilled niche jobs for financial services, legal, healthcare and technology are also available in business process outsourcing (BPO) hubs of Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg where Amazon, Capita and Serco are global firms present.

Brandon Aitken, chief commercial officer in SA for Webhelp, a BPO firm that employs 35,000 people in more than 25 countries, said it would welcome at least two new UK brands in 2019. Operational costs could be up to 60% lower than those in Britain and Australia, said researchers.

"With the rand free-falling and if you are in the UK and looking to outsource to SA, then obviously it’s very attractive from a labour pool, from a cost-saving and skills perspective," said Jordan Shaw, head of commercial business at Talksure call centre.

Reuters

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