Thursday, July 26, 2007

Outsourcing: Can outsourcing be an African Development strategy?

Inspired by this post on Nubian Cheetah
"Here are some key things Africa needs to grow into a outsourcing destination.
1. We need redundant and reliable Internet broadband infrastructure ex. Eassy fiber cable and SAT-3 cable are starters, also we need more Internet infrastructure.
2. We need the Diaspora to come back and start building the Infosys, Wipro's and Tata's of Africa.
3. We need Governments to earmark or allocate IT parks or Tax free zones only for science, Hi-tech or outsourcing related businesses.
4. We need more IT education, we simply lack this right now. Africa needs more programmers in Java, html, and other related IT fields.
5. Last but not least, ..."


What do you think? It looks sort of easy/viable, right? What's the problem then?

9 comments:

Omodudu said...

We ought to attck the menace from its root. We need proper technical schools like the 9 institutes in India.

t said...

I hear you.
Do you have any insider info on AAUN-American University in Yola?

I don't know how bad things are in Unis right now in Nigeria (worse or not than in 1997?) but wa'Allahi I want to go and teach somewhere out there. It seems like not much, teaching/training happens one-on-one, or one-to-a-few, but, I don't know...it's something. Naija has the FUTs and other technical schools. They need to be on point and also we need more.

Secret? A while back I was checking out the profile of an Indian biotech professional, who also studied there - seriously tech-savvy. Seriously. I don't think U.S. trained people have any merits over people like him in the technical aspect. (If this kind of secret gets out - wait a minute, it already has? - we're screwed)

Anyway, just agreeing with you that we can do it too. Si, se puede.

t said...

Omodudu wrote about this before
Often we hear Nigerians living abroad declare, "I am going home". I have news for all of you, Nigeria is not in dire need of your presence, actually you may be adding to the problem of overcrowding on the streets of Lagos. Nigeria needs your productivity more than anything else. If you have nothing to offer besides competing with the individuals at home for the already overstaffed service sector jobs, please sit your butt down wherever you are and pay your mortgage LOL.
Read the entire post and the debate...

Whatever. Go home if you want to. :)

imnakoya said...

While all listed on your list are appropriate, I would limit to just one, if I were in charge...I will tackle power. This has the most over-arching effect of all. Give Nigeria power and the country will go places.

benin mwangi said...

As Imnakoya has said, power is an issue. I dont know whether the new gov't will be able to tackle this issue or whether it will be private industry who does it, or both but Nigeria isn't alone in this issue. Even neighboring Ghana which has the mighty Volta waters and dam is now facing a severe power shortage unlike one that the nation has seen.

But T, I have heard though that there have been some enterprising solutions to the problem. Namely, just like you pointed out Diaspora Expats sending money home to relatives, who in turn have been investing in generators and for a small fee powering businesses and residences. Whether this is feasible on the large scale or not is yet to be seen, but what it tells me is that the high capcity manfactured production model is out of reach for many parts of Naija and other countries.

Thus, the service industry might be the way to go. ICT Outsourcing is just one example of an export oriented service, but there are others . And by the way, have you seen the interview that we did with an ICT outsourcing entrepreneur on beninmwangi.com last week? I enjoyed that one.

But back to services, I think that this industry is the great equalizer between nations with the developing economy status vs the already developed nations. This is what is amazing about India. They have grown through services.

Here are some services that don't necessarily require as much infrastructure as manufacturing and are already being done from afar:

*accounting
*private investigation
*research/writing
*legal writing
*coding/billing for legal and medical industries
*collection
*back office logistics for international transport

Just to name a few. Strong forging ahead of Nigeria in areas like these, coupled with sound tax collection and fiscal spending could really change things in Naija. Great one Upnaira!

Nii Simmonds said...

These are all great comments and we should keep talking about them. However, instead of talking let us each do a little to improve Africa outsourcing prospects.

Nii Simmonds

t said...

Nii Simmonds writes NubianCheetah.Blogspot.com and focuses on outsourcing.

Nii Simmonds said...

I welcome a complete discussion on information technology enabled services or BPO. I came be reached at nas146 at yahoo DOT com

t said...

Thanks so much to y'all for reading and contributing.

Re: Power comments
The current Nigerian government has named expanding power generation as TOP PRIORITY, see Nigeria's Near Future. The targets are paltry, sad, by Western standards; on a per-capita basis 10000MW Nationally would power one 60W lightbulb per person. The resolve of the President to drive Generation Capacity is not in question; it will be a thrill and a mark of real development if we meet these goals in about two years, it will show that we now have not only talent but systems that successfully organize this effort in providing infrastructure.

The National effort does not preclude private Power Provision...

The individual diesel-powered generator is far from ideal and Nigerians crave better alternatives: cheaper; more reliable - low maintenance with capacity to power appliances as needed; safer - fewer fumes, no transporting petrol in buckets; less noise...

Re: Outsourcing
Yes, Benin, it as a very fine interview with the founder of a Kenyan Business Process Outsourcing Company and I recommend it.

Best of luck, Nii, with your outsourcing passion. Please keep reaching out to people with like mission and do keep us informed.

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