Is Africa Poised to Take Off as a Call Center Hotbed?
Much discussion is had about the BRIC countries, that is, Brazil, Russia, India, and China. Less is discussed about the burgeoning ascension of the African continent, as it can’t be, like the BRIC states, neatly categorized as one country. Individual African countries might not have impressive economies, but taken together, they are comparable to India or even China. These are emerging markets, and with the economic growth, as well as astronomical population increase, Africa is potentially a multi-billion dollar market for call center and CRM technology. Salesforce and Zoho CRM both appear to have a presence in South Africa, but that’s a country that’s already been developed and has modern telecommunications and internet infrastructure. I am talking about countries that are developing, ones that are still working out how to implement modern infrastructure. Nigeria, per capita, is slightly stronger economically than India. Historically, India has been an optimal choice for call centers, due to low costs combined with a population that is proficient in English. Nigeria has an advantage, though, as, unlike with India, where both Hindi and English share the title of official language, Nigeria has English as its sole official language. Granted, just like with India, there are indigenous languages, the fact that there is a diversity of different languages, none of which reach a majority, or even a strong plurality, among Nigerian citizens, means there is a necessity for a language that unifies the country. The Philippines is another comparable country, but unlike with Nigeria, it already has a large, established market for call centers. Nigeria is disadvantaged in comparison to India due to sheer difference in population (India has almost 1.3 billion people, while Nigeria hovers at around 180 million), but has advantage over the Philippines for the same reason (the latter has roughly 100 million people).
But this is Nigeria alone. All of Africa, sans South Africa, has roughly 1.1 billion people. This does not factor in the superior population growth Africa enjoys over India or the Philippines. Nigeria, however, is probably not where we enter the African market. As aforementioned, we’ve had interest from countries like Ghana, which also has English as the sole official language, has an economy comparable to Nigeria, but which is much smaller population-wise (27 million). Sudan is another country, with a comparable economy, and slightly more people (40 million). Tunisia is economically the strongest of all the countries mentioned, but is rather small in population (11 million) and also has Arabic, rather than English, as an official language. What we need to do is figure out just how much pull major competitors like Salesforce and Zoho CRM have in these countries, and, based on that, determine which countries to invest resources in. There are a lot of countries in Africa that are potentially worthwhile. Aside from those already mentioned, like Botswana, which is one of the fastest growing economies in the world, one of the strongest economies in Africa (beating even South Africa) and which also has English as an official language, but which has the downside of having a small population (2 million). There are a total of 21countries in Africa with English as a de jure official language, and another three with English as a de factonon-majority language. Overall, the total population of African states where English is spoken to a signifcant degree is roughly 640 million. This alone is the majority of the African population. The combined GDP of these states comes to approximately $2.934 trillion. And this is merely the total economic output as of right now. This doesn’t take into account the economic growth these countries are undergoing. Some of these countries are in economic dead ends, for now. One cannot accurately predict where a country goes in the future, so fortunes of a financially weak state could change seemingly overnight. While it may not be advised to dump resources on a failing economy, it would be judicious to keep tabs on how these countries are trending. Again, they may be jackpots in the future. Based on the potential market, Voicent could become a massive enterprise if it focused on Africa alone. In essence, there is a huge customer base in Africa, where the number of users of Voicent software could be in the millions.
So here we have a gigantic market ready to be harvested. Is it laying still, waiting for foreign interests? Not exactly. Many investors are well aware of the enormous market that is Africa, and they are pumping billions of dollars into the improvement of its infrastructure. Goldman Sachs just last year raised $500 million in capital alongside several other firms to bolster the telecommunications infrastructure of Nigeria. These are investments in the infrastructure of Africa, but what about what happens after the infrastructure is established? What are companies like Salesforce and Five9 doing in regards to the massive potential of Africa? At this point in time, they are doing seemingly next to nothing. What can Voicent do? First off, continue attracting interest from potential users and resellers using the current methods. Second, figure out new methods to attract even more users and resellers. One new method could be to emphasize the advantage Voicent has over competitors, namely that Voicent is more friendly to users of GSM technology, and is more accessible overall to those who are not part of sophisticated grids. To add to this, Voicent solutions are software only, and they require no hardware, as long as VoIP/SIP are available, or alternatively, PBX/SIP. Find a way to target Africa specifically, and business from Africa will come.