Business Process Operations (BPO) in terms of job creation simply means that you get jobs from another company not currently located where you are or from a country where jobs are being done and they can be brought to your country.
Uganda happens to be in the middle of time zones. So Uganda can get jobs from Europe, Asia and North America. Think of it as Job Migration or Job Out Sourcing.
Companies can migrate jobs to Uganda with their current employees who are willing to relocate or just plain out source them to Uganda to Ugandans.
The world is now a global village and given the internet and phones, anything can be done any where. Pretty well 100% of the jobs which fit into this do not involve customer to customer facing.
This means that no employee of the company ever has to face a customer directly.
The interface involves phone calls or emails which we all now know can be done from any location. If you think that calling the customer number means the person on the other end is located in your city, take heart. You can call the customer number and it gets answered in some other country.
The key thing about this is the customer number never changes. You call the same number. Customer service numbers ring in the cloud. In that could, we have done some programming to drop them onto local numbers wherever we want them to drop and you will never know.
The advantage of Uganda getting such jobs is the high unemployment which means that we can get very highly qualified jobs that would cost less to the employer and yet provide a good income. Let us use round numbers.
For example a job pays $100,000 a year in UK. If we find a similarly qualified person in Uganda, we can pay that person $25,000 a year. Similarly is key. AND if you think this is exploitation, then we will just keep the jobs in Europe.
So imagine if you are expanding and need more people with these qualifications, you can hire 4 for the price of one.
BPOs / Job Migration / Job Outsourcing has a lot of potential for developing countries. You can ask India about it. They are professionals about this but not the only ones.
CHALLENGES FOR BPOs IN UGANDA
1) Poor healthcare. No company will move jobs if you cannot treat their new found employees of preventable diseases. Uganda is well known for not even treating malaria.
2) Poor infrastructure. A solid internet (fibre op) is needed as most of these jobs involve internet communications at good speed. They also require reliable phone service. Ask MTN and Airtel their guaranteed service per call. You would be surprised. Yes, even the best Telecoms cannot provide 100% service but 50-60% is unacceptable. You need electricity. Ask Umeme what their guarantee of provision is. You all know it is terrible. This one can be dealt with. The company which builds a BPO centre needs to build a house with a generator, get a back up supply to kick in when the hydro dies (to prevent the computer servers from frying) then the generator takes over till the power supply comes back. The last time I looked, Uganda had 274,000 fuel reserve instead of the required 10 million litres. Do you have any idea how much fuel a generator can chew up with an extended power shortage?
3) Good education. Most of the companies which relocate jobs want the same or similar to the services in their own countries for the new employees or relocated employees. UPE and USE education does not cut it.
4) Security. In a country where people vanish daily, dead bodies wash up on beaches, arbitrary arrests, kidnappings, murders – do you really think a good employer would want to risk sending their expatriates into Uganda? Or even having employees in Uganda face these conditions? Or even contracting employees in Uganda who face these conditions? Most people think that once a company contracts the services to a company in the other country they are immune to all this and cannot be sued should anything go wrong. In this case you might be right. On the other hand, you are very wrong. Some shareholders are conscience about global issues and will put pressure on the board of directors to enforce basic human rights on the exporting company.
5) Employment conditions. I would like to draw your attention to a story you may have missed. <<The Foxconn suicides occurred at the Foxconn City industrial park in Shenzhen, China. The 18 attempted suicides by Foxconn (Chinese: 富士康) employees resulted in 14 deaths—the company was the world’s largest contract electronics manufacturer at the time. The suicides drew media attention, and employment practices at Foxconn were investigated by several of its customers, including Apple and Hewlett-Packard (HP). In addition to its business ties with Apple and HP, Foxconn is a major manufacturer that has also served Dell, Motorola, Nintendo, Nokia, and Sony.>> Google search wikkipedia foxconn suicides. This happened in China where employees were over worked and stressed beyond belief they were jumping down many floors from the high rise and dying. NEVER UNDER ESTIMATE THE POWER OF HUMAN COMPASSION. Customers were walking away from these companies. The big contractors had no responsibility except social justice.
6) Roads and Uganda knows this very well. Let us say Google decides to have a plant in Uganda or contract work out there. I can assure you that the first 2-3 employees of Google or its partner that die in a car accident because of bad roads will force Google to pull out or cancel its contract with whoever it is that won it.
7) The bastardized education system in Uganda is now one of the things I am most known for. Horrendous writing. English is the International language of commerce and navigation. Sure, it is not your maternal language and you hate it being forced upon you but then in that case, stop saying the 80-90% unemployment rate in Uganda is a problem. Because it is not really when you think about it. It only becomes a problem when you need a job with an international company or to do business with an international company and since Uganda is self sufficient, continue writing things like “tsup dia”, “hai dera”. LEARN TO READ AND WRITE. It might get you a job.
Martha Leah Nangalama
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The writer is an IT analyst for an oil company and has vast experience in job automation and job outsourcing (job migration). All my opinions are mine and mine alone and do not reflect on my employer or any organisation I am affiliated with.