Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) is becoming an increasing trend in the world of commerce. It is a process of contracting standard business activities to a party outside of the company. Simply put, BPO functions factor the processes of customer service, accounting, payroll and Human Resources Management. Business organizations (especially the big corporates) rely on BPO to enhance better flexibility and cost efficiency. Bringing professionals on a company’s payroll can mean an obligatory bonding with individuals which may not permit its feasibility and the need to bear financial encumbrances such as gratuity, provident fund etc. It can add to cost constraints and thus companies find BPO viable. A call centre is commonly perceived to be the other term for BPO whereas it may be noted that the functions of BPO do not limit to call centres or customer service. Through BPO a company may outsource varied business functions.
The government of Ghana, to cater to multinational companies in particular, is actively promoting BPO through the Ghanaian Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC) and the Ghana Free Zones Board (GFZB). Advantages for Ghana in the relevance of BPO are aplenty. Ghana enjoys a high literacy rate (over 70%) compared to Sub-Saharan Africa. Further there is a large pool of unemployed skilled workers with English proficiency and this advantage serves as a breeding ground for call centres. Ghana also has a low labour cost advantage. In terms of time zone, Ghana is strategically located in relation to the U.S. and U.K from where the country’s call centres fish for contracts. Ghana is only 4 to 5 hours from the U.S.A., U.K., Canada or Europe. So, a person who wants to talk to somebody in an outsourced location such as these stands a better chance to do so, with an individual in Ghana, live.
Thus, as far as Ghana’s interests in international markets are concerned, the country is on the fast track to develop the BPO industry and is taking efforts to diversify from its traditional exports of cocoa, gold and timber. The challenges for Ghana in this aspect is by far mellowed compared to the BPO industry operating elsewhere in the world, especially in Asian countries.