Governments working to boost impact sourcing

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Several governments in Africa are working with the private sector to boost impact sourcing and job creation on the continent.

This is according to the Rockefeller Foundation’s managing director for the Africa region, Mamadou Biteye.

“We have seen a representation of government in this – representatives of government from Morocco, from Ghana, from Nigeria and even from South Africa. They have [showed] interest but even further than that, we have, since last year, concrete examples of partnerships with government,” he told

“In Ghana we are partnering with the World Bank and the Ministry of ICT to create a BPO park that will be completed next month, and that is going to create 10,000 jobs for the youth. We’ve also had earlier collaboration with that same government for digitisation of records through impact sourcing.”

(READ MORE: Growing emphasis on need to connect Africa’s populations)

Biteye, speaking at the Impact Sourcing at Scale conference, which is currently taking place in Sandton in South Africa, also highlighted a collaboration with the government of Nigeria to promote impact sourcing and online work.

“Government is putting a [proposition] to young people who may not have a tablet or a computer or even connectivity. There are internet centres, about 500 of them, across the whole country, at a nominal fee so that they can access jobs online through those ICT centres,” he said.

However, he indicated that the foundation does not as yet have any concrete projects with the government of South Africa.

“We don’t have yet clear, concrete projects that we are working on with the South African government but we are speaking to the relevant ministries. There is a good alignment of our missions and we are seeing how we can go together in mainstreaming impact sourcing in South Africa,” Biteye said.

“They have put in place several incentive schemes to support the development training and also some legislation so that provides incentives to corporates to hire young people from disadvantaged backgrounds who are upskilled.”

The conference aims to bring together stakeholders in the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) and impact sourcing sector to discuss the opportunities and challenges in the sector.

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Impact sourcing, the socially responsible arm of the BPO and information technology outsourcing industry, is also seen as a way to create meaningful employment opportunities for Africa’s youth, and Biteye emphasised the need to create an enabling environment for this.

“We have a range of services that are relevant to impact sourcing. Employees can provide customer support like working in a call centre, they can enter data for HR, they can manage a supply chain by digitising documents or they can also support finance and accounting by indexing invoices,” he said.

“The way to do it is to multiply the impact that has already been achieved via impact sourcing and bring it to scale in Africa by training and placement of youth in companies, impact-oriented business models and a business environment in countries to help make them attractive destinations for outsourcing.”

The Rockefeller Foundation specifically, has created an initiative – Digital Jobs Africa (DJA) – to impact lives by catalysing employment opportunities and skills training for disadvantaged African youth.

“If there is a sector that has been transformative in Africa in the past 15 years, it’s the ICT and digital technology sector. This sector has developed so phenomenally that we have seen a real increase in connectivity coverage but also a real decrease in the cost to access connectivity,” Biteye said.

“However, the continent is wide and this coverage tends to be mostly around urban areas. Large rural areas still remain uncovered or not with a good level of coverage. The other thing is, we have seen a real drop in the cost of access [but] the costs still remain relatively high.”

Biteye also highlighted the increased use of mobile devices in Africa, adding that it’s not just about access to connectivity but also access to devices for connectivity.

(READ MORE: Effective e-learning necessary to create impact in ICT)

“Mobile has really connected Africans in a completely different way. It has reduced the distance and divides between urban and rural centres. It has transformed the way we do business, particularly if you look at the financial transfers sector, with innovations such as M-PESA,” he indicated.

“Digital technology has entered many places today in Africa and many sectors, so that is an opportunity. It is continuing also to create those opportunities – 10 years ago, M-PESA didn’t exist. Today, how many hundreds of thousands of Africans live off that? That has been transformative.”

He added that it may even continue to create types of jobs that the current generations haven’t even thought about.