21 November 2005Brightview, a UK internet service provider with250 000 customers, has moved its call centre from India to the KwaZulu-Natal coastal city of Durban in a £2-million (R23.5-million) deal with South African contact centre Bizworks.David Laurie, CEO of Brightview chief executive, said the main reason for the move was high turnover levels among call centre agents in India. South Africa has a turnover rate of 5% to 15% a year, the second lowest in the world, while India’s rate stands at 35%.“India proved to be cost effective, but ultimately failed to meet our customer’s expectations,” said Laurie.Another reason for the switch is culture and language. South Africa is an English-language environment in the same time zone as most of Europe, giving it an edge over competitors such as India, the Philippines, Hungary and China.“Durban offers a highly skilled and culturally aligned workforce,” said Laurie. “Although the switch is recent, I am confident not only that we will be able to maintain a similar cost base to India, but that the service level will dramatically improve.“Call centre agents need to think outside the box, show empathy towards clients and troubleshoot. South Africa’s population is culturally diverse and good for call centre work.”SA’s call centre potentialEarlier this year the South African government and business leaders committed to developing the country’s potential for hosting call centres by facilitating permission for firms, boosting infrastructure and creating enticements.South Africa’s call centre industry employs some65 000 people, with about 70% of clients coming from the UK.Last year UK insurance company Budget Group announced a R100-million investment to set up a call centre in Cape Town.Laurie said the cost of setting up the call centre in Durban was 60% cheaper than in the UK in terms of rental, staff and other operating costs. Tony Archer, responsible for Brightview’s move from India to Durban, found the process painless.“I arrived in Durban in August and over the last 12 weeks we have employed 43 agents and trained them to deal with all aspects of an inbound technical support and customer services process,” he said.“I have been impressed with the standards the agents have reached within such a short timescale. The task of opening our call centre in Durban has been made easier as a result of the fantastic work ethic and enthusiasm of our team here, as well as the support from Bizworks.”Developing DurbanDurban is being actively promoted as a contact centre and business process outsourcing destination with the eThekwini Municipality establishing the Durban Investment Promotion Agency to facilitate and encourage new and existing business investment into the region.The process has been accelerated by the formation of KZN On Source, KwaZulu-Natal’s dedicated call centre forum. KZN On Source aims to train 1 000 call centre agents next year.SmartXchange is another initiative of eThekwini Municipality, aimed at promoting the city’s ICT development. The company helps develop IT entrepreneurs in partnership with the more established IT players. Bizworks is based at the SmartXchange facility.“No other South African city has as much local government support for the call centre industry,” said Willy Govender, CEO of Bizworks. “The eThekwini Municipality is taking up the challenge to provide jobs and skills for the region and is succeeding in growing the local economy.”Bizworks has employed 43 full-time call centre agents to field an expected 25 000 calls a month from Brightview’s 250 000 customers.It is estimated that the call centre industry will create 3-million additional jobs worldwide by 2008.SouthAfrica.info reporter
31 August 2007Overhauling South Africa’s public transport system, including its minibus taxis, to ensure affordable and efficient commuting is a vital requirement for inclusive economic growth, says Trade and Industry Minister Mandisi Mpahlwa.Speaking to journalists in Cape Town this week, Mpahlwa said the government was busy implementing its R7.7-billion taxi recapitalisation programme, which was “going as planned, with 20 000 old vehicles targeted for scrapping in the current year”.Mpahlwa said over 7 000 old taxis had been scrapped to date, with R353.5-million having been paid out in scrapping allowances, enabling taxi owners to revamp their ageing fleets with newer, safer vehicles.Owners who want to exit the industry or buy new vehicles are offered R50 000 for each unroadworthy minibus taxi that they send in for scrapping by accredited agencies.New government regulations demand that minibus taxis be fitted with seatbelts for each passenger, have rollover bars, a type two braking system and commercially rated tyres of sizes 185R or 195R.The government aims to have replaced up to 80% of the country’s taxi fleet by 2010.Mpahlwa added that a draft plan to reform the country’s current bus subsidy system to include minibus taxis had been approved in principle by stakeholders in the transport industry.Improving passenger transportIn his State of the Nation Address in February, President Thabo Mbeki said the government would implement several public transportation programmes around the country in addition to the taxi recapitalisation.These included the multi-billion rand Gautrain high-speed rail link between Johannesburg, Pretoria and the OR Tambo International Airport, the Moloto Rail corridor linking Gauteng and Mpumalanga provinces, and the Klipfontein corridor in Cape Town.He said the government would also be implementing detailed plans for improving passenger rail and road transport, including creating a bus rapid transit system in all metropolitan municipalities, and recapitalising Metrorail.“These and many other initiatives form part of a comprehensive passenger transport strategy, combining both road and rail,” Mbeki said at the time. “We will attend to the urgent implementation of these programmes to improve the quality of life of especially the working people.”Source: BuaNews
The Airbus A350XWB is continuing to make its presence felt in Australia with several airlines in the past month announcing increased services using the fuel-efficient aircraft.Singapore Airlines became the latest when it announced on Tuesday it would start a daily A350-900 service to Melbourne from May 11 on its SQ208/207 services. The move means Melbourne will have two daily Singapore A350 services until June 30 when its SQ218/217 flights revert to Airbus A380.The 253-seat aircraft comes with 42 business class seats, 24 in premium economy and 187 in economy.The change means three of Singapore’s four daily flights from Melbourne will now offer premium economy. “We have seen good demand for our Premium Economy product in Melbourne,” Singapore Airlines regional vice president Tan Tiow Kor said in a statement. “I am sure the addition of a third flight that offers our Premium Economy cabin will be warmly welcomed by customers, as will the decision to operate the A350 on a daily basis.”Qatar Airways last week announced it was would use the A350 to resume daily services to Adelaide from December 2.Qatar said performance on the Doha-Adelaide route, which had been reduced to five services a week, had exceeded expectations in terms of consumer demand and air freight. “Trade and air freight between Australia and the Middle East have significantly increased over the past year and we are proud to play a role in this exciting expansion for South Australian businesses,’’ Qatar’s Australasian senior manager, Adam Radwanski, said.Cathay Pacific last month announced it would introduce its first scheduled A350 service to Perth on its daily CX170/171 services and a second A350 service into Melbourne (CX163/178) from October 29.The airline started its first A350 service into Melbourne in February and last month started using the plane on daily A350 flights into Brisbane.The move means a bigger aircraft for Perth and means two of Cathay’s three daily services to Melbourne use the A350.Airbus had delivered 70 A350-900s worldwide by February and has orders for more than 820 planes in the overall A350 XWB family.The next cab off the rank, the A350-1000, is due to fly later this year and two of three aircraft involved in the flight test program underwent high altitude, hot weather testing in South America last month.Airbus said early test results confirmed the good performance and behavior of both the aircraft and its Trent XWB-97 engines.“This is a major successful milestone in the aircraft certification flight test campaign,’’ it said.