Efforts to grow the local Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) sector have gathered pace as the government tries to improve the industry and make it a major contributor to Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Hubert Ruzibiza, the Rwanda Development Board head of services development department, said the effort is part of the initiatives to expand and diversify investment opportunities in the services sector to achieve the government’s vision of transforming Rwanda into a service-based economy.
Ruzibiza said this while speaking at the launch of the BPO expo bringing together local and regional sector players with an aim of forging a common pathway to growing the sector and positioning it globally.
Through business process outsourcing services, Rwandans can be able to say, operate call centres of foreign-based firms without necessarily going to those countries. It is a big driver of information and communication technology (ICT)-based jobs, and with Rwanda looking to become a services-led economy, BPO sector provides youth immense job opportunities.
Presently, there a few local BPO firms, which are engaged in providing ICT-related and back office services in finance administration to a range of clients, within and outside the country.
Ruzibiza said the ongoing exhibition at Kigali Serena Hotel aimed at promoting the BPO sector and targeted potential BPO investors from the region and worldwide.
It is also intended to increase the awareness about BPO services by sensitising private and public institutions to outsource some of their services.
There will also be a launch of the Rwanda BPO Association at the close of the show today.
The services sector was the biggest driver of growth last year, contributing 47 per cent of the total GPD. Agriculture accounted for 33 per cent, while the industry sector contributed 14 per cent, with the balance attributed to tax adjustments minus subsidies on products.
“Although Rwanda BPO sector is composed of few companies, most of which are in BPO-IT sector, it has huge potential and would ease youth unemployment. There are huge opportunities to promote BPO services in Rwanda as the country continues to position itself as an investment (hub) for the services sector,” Ruzibaza said.
However, he said lack of awareness about the opportunities BPO creates affects growth of the sector, the reason they have reinvigorated initiatives to promote it.
BPO to trigger services export
Ruzibiza said the estimated current domestic demand for BPO services is $50 million (about Rwf36 billion), projected to increase to about $200 million by 2020.
He was hopeful that the move would also trigger the export of service-related sector expertise.
“Rwanda can achieve further estimated BPO revenues of close to $275 million by 2020 by providing these services to local and regional customers, with the potential to enter bigger markets,” Ruzibiza said.
The telecoms, tourism, finance and government sectors offer BPO service providers the greatest growth and investment opportunities, he added.
Under the Supporting India’s Trade Preference for Africa programme, 20 BPO companies from Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya and India trained in how to explore investment opportunities in the sector and share best practices.
While opening the expo, Rosemary Mbabazi, the permanent secretary at the Ministry of Youth and ICT, encouraged BPO sector entrepreneurs to take advantage of the conducive climate to invest in the country.
Mbabazi said Rwanda has a young and dynamic workforce, most favourable business environment in the region and low levels of corruption that contribute significantly to business growth.
“Our ICT infrastructure is robust and reaches all corners of the country; we have a strong and visionary leadership and a bi-lingual business environment which are all ideal for such a sector to thrive,” Mbabazi said.
Rwanda has invested over $24 million in regional communication infrastructure to ensure connectivity to the global network, she added. This includes rolling out the 4G LTE network for fast Internet last year.