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British company Assured Capital Holdings has opened a multimillion-rand, 300-seat call centre in commercial property space in the Coastlands Hotel building on Umhlanga Ridge.
The Coracall call centre was officially opened this month by Coracall chief executive Phil Lightfoot, together with the MEC for Economic Development and Tourism, Michael Mabuyakhulu, and Zamo Gwala, chief executive of Trade and Investment KwaZulu-Natal.
Gwala welcomed the direct foreign investment in KZN and its job-creation potential. He said the full service call centre was expected to create more than 1 000 jobs over the next 18 months and attract other international business opportunities.
“The opening of this British-owned call centre is a testament to the competitiveness of KwaZulu-Natal’s telecommunications and IT sectors, strong skills levels and a strong cultural fit.
“This important investment is also further evidence that Durban has the potential to become a large call centre hub that could provide valuable employment opportunities for the large numbers of unemployed young people in the region.”
Gwala said KZN and SA were competing for call centre investment with countries in Asia, South America, Eastern Europe and elsewhere in Africa, but several key factors had contributed to Coracall choosing Durban. These include the availability of office space and good locations to set up call centres; a labour pool that included young people capable of communicating well in English; incentives offered by the national Department of Trade and Industry; cultural affinities; and compatible time zones.
“The South African government has earmarked business processing services, of which call centres form an integral part, as one of the key economic growth areas,” said Gwala. “[The sector] accounts for 200 000 jobs nationally and is one of the country’s fastest-growing sectors, with double-digit growth over the past five years.
“We have seen considerable growth in this segment of the business services sector, particularly in KwaZulu-Natal.
“We are not just seeing South African companies setting up here, but also businesses that serve international markets.”
Lightfoot said as much as 90 percent of Coracall’s clients would be UK-based, with just a small proportion in SA.
“The brand, which is also being registered in the UK this month, will be developed on the back of synergies with sister brand Phruit, which is regarded as a UK leader in lead generation, call centre service provision, market research and hot key transfer,” he said.
“Coracall contact centres are located in the fastest-growing commercial and residential growth markets in the world with the availability of high quality employees that benefit our clients and their service expectations.
“Most of our clients operate in English-speaking countries, which is why we have carefully selected the locations for our contact centres, working in stable countries with high levels of literacy, spoken English and investment in the nation’s infrastructure.”
Lightfoot said SA had the most developed telecoms network in Africa, boosted by massive telecommunications infrastructural investments such as Seacom submarine fibre-optic cable system, which links south and east Africa to global networks through India and Europe.
He said Coracall had spent|18 months carrying out feasibility studies before it eventually narrowed its choices down to India, the Philippines and SA (Joburg, Cape Town or Durban).
Lightfoot said that based on its understanding of the sector, Coracall chose Durban.
He said the markets Coracall was aggressively targeting, such as the UK and US, were particularly sensitive to the accents of call centre operators.
He said the accents of Durbanites were “more neutral” than those of people in Cape Town and Joburg.
Lightfoot said he strongly believed in reinvestment, which had accounted for much of sister brand Phruit’s international success over the past seven years.
Phruit has a database with 35 million consumers, mainly in the UK, US and Australia.