Government emphasis is making South Africa's BPS sector globally competitive

04 April 2019 3 min. read
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South Africa’s renewed focus on generating greater foreign investment is increasingly reliant on the Business Process Services (BPS) segment, among others, according to Managing Director for Operations at Accenture Africa Kabelo Makwane. The country is emerging as a highly attractive market for BPS investments.

The President Cyril Ramaphosa has been repeatedly asserting the value of foreign investment for restoring stability in the South African economy following a sustained period of sluggish economic growth. Among his areas of focus within this goal is making South Africa a BPS centre globally.

His focus on BPS was reinforced when he mentioned it in his State of the Nation Address, which, according to Makwane, was the first time a president in South Africa had explicitly mentioned the segment in such an address. Makwane believes that the emphasis on improving local services is likely to be significantly beneficial for the economy.

Within the BPS segment, Accenture's Kabelo Makwane has observed significant efforts to generate skills that can compete with the traditional BPS centres across the globe, which include the likes of India and the Philippines. These regions have large pools of English-speaking professionals, which contributes to their popularities.

Government emphasis is making South Africa's BPS sector globally competitive

Efforts within South Africa, meanwhile, have led to the emergence of a number of substantial BPS markets in financial centres such as Gauteng and Kwazulu-Natal, which has driven a staggering annual growth rate of 22% in the South African BPS sector in the last four years.

According to Makwane, alongside the English proficiency levels across South Africa’s labour forces, the country’s attractiveness as a BPS market is contributed to by its correspondence in time zones with European markets, and the low value of the Rand in the global exchange, which makes labour in the country cost-effective. Technology is the key, according to Makwane, to realise the market’s BPS potential.

“By effectively applying technology and digitalisation in the outsourcing arrangement to automate processes, access analytics capabilities to drive decisioning through data insights, or leverage applied intelligence (AI) – the latest evolution in BPS – to effectively augment professional capabilities, the local sector will more effectively bridge the skills divide that exists between the local workforce and workers in incumbent global BPS destinations of choice,” he said.

“Large global enterprises in the automotive, logistics, courier and ICT sectors, for example, all face similar challenges when entering new geographies. They, therefore, require BPS providers that can set up critical front- and back-office functions at pace and scale. Any BPS provider that offers these capabilities will hold a distinct competitive advantage,” he added.