Outsourcing is a fantastic strategy any business can employ to capitalize on the available resources, products, and services of other companies. Most businesses employ the help and knowledge of outsourced experienced professionals instead of hiring their own in-house experts. This helps maximize business performance, decrease company expenditures, and avoid recruiting and hiring cycles.
There are several services that are particularly useful to outsource, such as accounting, legal, and data entry. Information technology (IT) outsourcing is one of the most popular and useful for SME owners to consider. In sum, an IT support team helps your business get up and running or significantly improve current workflow by helping you implement and maintain your IT infrastructure. For example, an IT support company like EC-MSP (https://www.ecmsp.co.uk/it-support-london.php) assists clients in handling network setup and security, disaster recovery, third party support, relocation, and on-call help, just to name a few of the basic services offered.
This article focuses on the wide variety of IT outsourcing services offered, and how companies are now turning to Africa to outsource these IT needs.
Outsourcing to Africa
Africa is being recognized as an excellent outsourcing destination. With huge populations and many educated people ready for work, it’s becoming an increasingly viable option. There are also many young people in Africa compared to other continents; this means a large influx of younger folks will become of working age within the next decade.
Another asset for companies and clients outsourcing to Africa is the general population’s language skills. Many countries in Africa have a first language of either English or French, two of the most universally understood languages across the globe. In addition, Egyptians can speak Arabic and cater to clients based in the Mediterranean. Other commonly spoken languages in certain African countries are German, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, and Dutch. Some African countries are also geographically close to potential clients in Europe, and that makes them even more attractive as prospective outsourcing partners.
Additionally, companies based in Africa can more readily offer outsourced remote services due to the rise in continental infrastructure. Recently, many African countries have been multiplying their average internet speeds, telecom providers are growing, and there’s greater access to technology across the continent.
When it comes to IT outsourcing, the countries most recognized for this service are South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria, Egypt, and Morocco. It’s predicted that Africa could replace India, China, and Southeast Asian countries for outsourced IT labor.
Specific Country Advantages for Outsourcing
Because employees in Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia speak French, these countries are popular with France as outsourcing destinations. These countries are also close to France with similar time zones.
Kenya is home to many programmers, and infrastructure is growing to support technological advances. So much so, in fact, that Nairobi is now called “Silicon Savannah.”
Ghana and Mauritius are becoming popular for IT delivery and call centers.
South Africa is most recognized as a very competitive country for outsourcing. With extensive government support for business growth, an increasingly expansive telecommunications network, impeccable employee work ethic, and relatively low cost of labor, it’s quite hard to beat.
However, the most notable are Egypt and South Africa. In 2021, both countries are now considered among the world’s top outsourcing destination countries. Many big-name companies like Microsoft, IBM, and Dell have centers in Egypt. Additionally, both countries’ ‘cybersecurity game’ is top-notch according to global standards.
Top African IT Services: Software Development, Engineering, and Data Labeling
What Egypt and South Africa also have in common is their specialty in software development. Egypt is very successful in this arena - with impressive clients like Vodafone - and often partners with North American clients. However, South Africa truly dominates when it comes to software development; they’ve been ‘in the game’ the longest, and have very well-versed talented professionals available. Johannesburg is recognized as a hub for software development outsourcing companies.
Software engineering has become a major source of economic gain in Africa, as well. In addition, many African countries supply outsourced website and app development, SEO, and data analytics.
Another popular way companies are outsourcing to Africans is with data labeling, an important component of AI technology. It requires human judgment to identify information that may be associated with photos, written text, or videos. The label helps machines learn how to make these identifications for themselves - for example, knowing a photo has a dog in it. Recently, Silicon Valley giants like Microsoft, Google, and Salesforce use “AI training data” provided by Samasource. Samasource outsources to Kenya for data labeling, finding cost-effective labor there due to a low cost of living. For these larger companies, it’s especially beneficial to outsource these data prep tasks that can take up to 80% of labor time at the company itself.
Outsourcing IT Within Africa
Some believe that for Africa to continue gaining a foothold as an offshore outsourcing destination, it should outsource within, i.e. outsourcing IT services to other African businesses. There are several industries that are better prepared and motivated to utilize outsourced IT services within Africa. One is the finance industry, which is currently looking to improve database management without breaking the bank (pun intended!) Another example is the healthcare industry, which is adopting more advanced patient information systems to monitor record-keeping more efficiently and effectively. As health records become digitalized, these clinics and hospitals need aid from IT support firms across the continent.
The Future of African Outsourcing
Outsourcing specialized services simply allows businesses a greater opportunity for growth.
Outsourcing to foreign countries offers the great advantage of higher pay rates which result in more profit for Africans. While this insight has spurred offshore outsourcing for other countries like India or South Asia, it is only beginning to take hold in Africa. European businesses are realizing they can save 40-50% by outsourcing to Africa in comparison to other common outsourcing populations. Because labor is more cost-effective and its economy is growing, Africa is seeing a massive boost in its outsourcing appeal.
African governments also seem to be supporting this shift, recognizing the economic opportunity here. IT outsourcing has become particularly more prominent as infrastructure grows to support it, and African businesses and individuals alike adopt modern technology like cloud computing.
There are still improvements to be made in this area, but we can only imagine increasing growth. To aid this initiative, African governments can put policies in place to support, like important data protection laws. If this happens, we will likely see even more IT outsourcing opportunities arising for Africans on the horizon.