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Contact Centers in Africa-Engaging Citizens and Engine for Economic Development

July 24, 2014

The recognition of the value of modern contact centers is a global phenomenon in terms of enabling governments to better engage and serve their citizens and as a driver of economic growth. This has been exemplified over the years by the enormous impact of the contact center business in places like the Philippines and India, and is of growing importance in Eastern Europe and the Middle East.  And, now it can and should be Africa’s turn according to Christopher Bell, Interactive Intelligence’s (News - Alert) Channel Manager for Africa (

Speaking recently in Lagos, Nigeria ahead of an Interactive Intelligence-sponsored master class for stakeholders, Bell called for the creation of a contact center association for Nigeria and other African countries as a way of promoting a standard for contact centers. He noted that such associations have already been set up in Zambia and Zimbabwe, and plans are underway to set one up in Kenya.

“Call centers are helping African governments to provide efficient and effective services to citizens”, says Rod Jones, contact centre consultant. Jones explained that with leading edge technologies such as speech recognition and voice commands, contact centers have evolved and transcended beyond ordinary telephone calls. “As we have evolved to become a customer direction center, we’ve moved from telephone calls into SMS text messaging. We’ve taken on the email and social media channel and for customer interaction.”

“We’ve already seen that in South Africa,” Jones mentions. He added, “The most effective aspect of the government is our Revenue Service. They have built and operate a true world class call center and it has been responsible for tremendous improvements in revenue collection by the government.”

Bell cited the fact that interest across the African continent is growing.  Interactive Intelligence master have already been held in places like Kenya, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Zambia, where he says the interactions are have stimulated more and more organizations, including government, to set up contact centers.  “We’ve seen tremendous growth in the industry in the wake of the seminars“, says Bell. If you keep the momentum going by stimulating dialogue, you make people aware. We exposed some of the participants for the first time to what a call centre is all about.”

As part of the session it was noted by Mbuela Luwawu, Managing Director of Odilum Technologies Limited, an Interactive Intelligence partner in Nigeria that telecoms companies and financial institutions have been first movers in appreciating the value of having state-of-the-art contact centers.  Luwawu noted that: “Five years ago, no bank had a contact center but since 2009, you can pick up your phone, call your contact center and speak to your customer service officer directly. The adoption has been quite positive.” He also said that Nigeria has the ability to take market share away from India, and predicted there will be lots of contact center outsourcing for Nigeria from Europe and America.

The reality is that using next generation customer interactions technology literally knows no bounds or borders, and has proven to be extremely effective for both improving government services and for stimulating economic growth.  Africa is certainly a place to keep an eye on going forward.

Edited by Maurice Nagle

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