Telecom changes mean more jobs
06/09/2004 15:30 - (SA)
Cape Town - The recently announced amendments to the Telecommunications Act will lead to the creation of more jobs in the local ICT sector, international call centre operator Dialogue Group said on Monday.
Dialogue chairperson Jason Drew said the changes announced last Thursday by Communications Minister Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri was the much-needed catalyst to take South Africa's burgeoning contact centre industry to the next stage of its development as an international player.
The amendments end the monopoly of state-owned group Telkom and widen the field to include not only a second national operator (SNO) but other entities.
From February 1 2005, any value-adding network service provider (VANS) will be able to provide voice transmission over any medium, including the internet.
Providers will also be permitted to sell on excess capacity to promote optimal use of the existing total telecommunications infrastructure.
Dialogue Group, together with a group of other international investors, bought a call centre business based in Cape Town in 2003, and has expanded its employee base from 110 to nearly 1 000 people.
"As a direct consequence of the changes, we are canceling a venture abroad, which would have created an additional 400 jobs in what would have been a more price-competitive environment.
"These jobs will now come to South Africans once the amendments become effective next February."
He said Matsepe-Casaburi and her department are to be congratulated for what constitutes a very significant attitudinal shift in government's thinking.
"The deregulation, which in effect opens up the ICT sector, is the mark of a mature democracy.
"Not only does it spell greater information access for all South Africans, but as far as the contact centre industry is concerned, we can expect operating costs to become more competitive; the quality, standards and efficiencies of delivery to improve and infrastructure to be enhanced.
"This means South Africa can compete more effectively on global markets, ultimately translating into more jobs."
According to the Gauteng Economic Development Agency, South Africa currently employs some 80 000 people across some 410 contact centre businesses.
"It was the deregulation in the last decade of the telecommunications sector in India that gave it the impetus to develop into what is today the biggest offshore destination for the international contact centre industry," added Drew.
Drew said the country's highly sophisticated technology and financial infrastructure, its compatible time zone with Europe and the UK, and its ready availability of quality staff already provide a competitive edge.
"An open market will allow the South African industry to significantly enhance its value offering."
Edited by Fadia Salie
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