Egyptian coolies have thrown down the gauntlet to our desi coolies on handling the White Man’s IT chores and back-office operations.
Egypt, a country ruled with an iron fist by U.S. ally Hosni Mubarak, says it’s leading the charge to make Africa an attractive market for outsourcing. (Although American media and movies routinely caricature Egypt as a torture destination, we like Mubarak for the tough way in which he has countered the Islamic fundamentalists in his country.)
Since outsourcing (particularly BPO) is a labor intensive activity, Egypt’s recent focus on tapping this sector is understandable given the need to hold the lid on the seething cauldron of educated unemployed youth, who would otherwise be ready fodder for fundamentalist and violent outfits like theÂ Muslim Brotherhood.
* Like India, Egypt is a poor country (GDP per capita of $1,739 source: Wiki) with a huge population (75.5 million). And just like Shakespeare’s Yond Cassius in Julius Caesar (or our ownÂ desis), they all have a lean and hungry look.
* Like India, Egypt has a large annual graduating pool of 300,000 with a significant engineering, science and commerce base.
* Like India, Egypt is said to have a fairly decent English speaking talent pool (some 20,000 fluent English speakers are supposed to graduate anually).
* Like India (or Phillipines), Egypt is a low cost country with low salaries and low international telecommunications rates.
* Like India, Egypt has a vast chunk of its population in the young age-group (41% of its 75 million are between 15 and 39), who are eschewing the jobs of their parents and exploring new opportunities.
Egypt is touting advantages like a multilingual workforce (fluent in English, French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch and Arabic); lower labor costs than in surrounding low-cost regions; time zone proximity with the West; relative familiarity with Western culture; and lower staff attrition rates as factors that make itÂ a more compelling destination over traditional outsourcing locations like India and China.
Egypt’s IT sector is projected to grow from $889 million in 2006 to $1.3 billion in 2011, according to the country’sÂ Information Technology Industry Development Agency (ITIDA), which is striving to grow the country’s information and communications technology industry with a thrust on business process outsourcing (BPO).
To lure international companies to set up call/service center and BPO operations in the country, the Egyptian government provides tax breaks, Continue reading »