R500M jobs boost for sa

Essar Group, the Indian energy, steel and telecommunications company, yesterday announced that it would pump R500 million into develop South Africa's call centre industry over the next three years.

Essar's subsidiary, Aegis, said it had acquired a South African company, CCN Group, in a deal that would create about 5 000 call centre jobs.

CCN is one of the largest privately owned contact centre companies in the country.

Sandip Sen of Aegis said the company hoped to enhance South Africa's capacity, which he said was too small to handle the demands of large customers.

"We are a global company. In India alone we are growing at a rapid scale, recruiting 1 000 new people each year."

He said Aegis would be able to attract clients from large business outsourcing markets such as Britain, the US and India.

Aegis has 32 centres across the world in the US, Philippines, India, Costa Rica and Kenya and employs more than 33 000 people globally.

CCN is Aegis' 12th acquisition and has a workforce of 1 000.

But Sen said this would not be counted in its targets: "We want to grow organically through expansion and training to create an additional 5 000 new jobs."

The company is also looking at investing further in various sectors across Africa.

In Kenya, it has developed an oil refinery and a port in Mombasa, as well as coal mines in Mozambique.