In an industry that is characterised by fierce competition to market country-level service propositions, the novel agreement – in the form a memorandum of understanding – marks a shift in tactics, emphasising the complementary nature of the two countries’ respective offerings.

The deal entails shared information, joint trade missions and the facilitation of closer co-operation between industry participants in both countries.

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Mfanu Mfayela, CEO of the South African Contact Centre Community (SACCOM), said: “For India, we become an extension to their offering. As more and more companies look to multiple-location offshoring, rather than having all of their facilities in a single destination, Indian companies can now offer multi-party offshoring arrangements without diluting the client relationship built over many years.”

Analyst Peter Ryan, of research firm Datamonitor, said that the alliance could rewrite the rule book for global competition. “Given the advanced state of contact centre services found in both countries, the pooling of expertise has the potential to offer international customers the best practices from South Africa and India,” he said.

The deal is a boon for South Africa, which is a relative newcomer to the business process outsourcing and call centre space. It stands to benefit from India’s extensive experience in these sectors and is likely to gain invaluable access to India’s existing client relationships.

SACCOM has predicted that within two years, South Africa will be among the top three offshore locations providing high-value call centre services. Since 2002, foreign investment in the sector in South Africa has increased by 400%. The country is focusing on high-value services, encompassing multilingualism, unscripted customer dialogue and strong cultural affinity with Western markets.