5000 employed in ICT, BPO sectors

Australian High Commissioner John Feakes (left) and Trade Minister Faiyaz Koya at the launch of the BPO Council of Fiji. Picture: ELIKI NUKUTABU/FT FILE

About 5000 Fijians were employed in the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) sectors, which contributed about 10 per cent towards Fiji’s GDP according to the Minister for Commerce, Trade, Tourism and Transport, Faiyaz Koya.

Speaking at the launch of the BPO Council of Fiji yesterday, he said this was an accomplishment which benefited thousands of Fijians employed in this growing sector.

“As we celebrate the launch of the BPO Council of Fiji, we mark a new era in providing the sector an opportunity to collectively work together with the Fijian Government and position ourselves as the BPO hub of the region,” he said.

“One of our greatest strengths as a modern economy is the development of call centres and outsourcing because it uses our greatest resource — our people.”

Mr Koya added Fiji was placed in a very strong position with excellent IT and telecommunications infrastructure and competitive wage and salary rates.

“We also have an educated and accent-neutral English-speaking workforce, a cost-effective near-shore location and a convenient time zone area.

“These enabling factors check key boxes that our neighbouring markets, Australia and New Zealand, require.

“So essentially, it positions us in place to tell investors — ‘Fiji is your destination for doing business and your gateway to other regional markets’.”

Apart from having a rich pool of talent, he said, the Fijian Government had worked strategically to position Fiji as a lucrative location for BPO operations, offering attractive investment incentives.

“As far as our ICT preparedness goes, we have provided digital infrastructure for Fijians and Fijian businesses to do business online.

“Initiatives such as digitalFIJI and bizFIJI, which are part of our digital transformational agenda, is empowering Fijians to be connected to the Fijian Government’s e-services, a step forward from the traditional practice of providing assistance.

“We’ve taken proactive steps to remove administrative burdens and reduce bureaucratic obstacles to fast-track approval processes — especially for micro, small and medium enterprises.”

According to the minister, while the BPO and ICT industry was impacted by the pandemic, it also had the ability to easily diversify into and work towards reviving the economy.

“Fiji is well-placed in terms of resources and facilities readily available for businesses to start operations.

“We are well positioned to attract BPO investments, starting from the lower end and moving up the value chain.

“This is evident as we have managed to secure our position by attracting renowned BPO investors to reposition their back-office processing in Fiji.”

He added to achieve the status of the true hub of the Pacific, Fiji needed to focus on its potential and capitalise on the opportunities available.

Mr Koya said in the 2019 to 2020 Financial Year National Budget, a grant of $50,000 was given to the BPO council. || Launch of BPO council.

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