Sama welcomes Kenya government’s commitment to address BPO industry’s operating barriers




The Government will work tirelessly to maintain Kenya’s competitiveness as an ideal destination for ICT-based export-led labour services; the State Department for ICT and Digital Economy PS Eng John Tanui has assured investors in the sector.

Speaking when he toured the Nairobi operating hub for Sama, a BPO operator which provides data annotation solutions that power the AI models of the future, PS Tanui assured that the Government has embarked on strategic processes to clear operating barriers facing players in the Business process outsourcing sector.

(TOP: From left to right – Peter Karanja, Senior Site Director, Sama, welcomes Eng. John Kipchumba Tanui, PS, State Department for ICT and Digital Economy, during a recent visit to the Sama Kenya offices. Looking on is Annpeace Alwala, the VP of Global Service Delivery and Wendy Gonzalez, CEO of Sama).

As part of a strategy to facilitate technology firms’ investments in Kenya, the Government, he said, is working to establish more than 1450 digital hubs in every ward countrywide linked by a robust fibre optic backbone infrastructure. Such connectivity, he said, will help boost ongoing capacity-building efforts to facilitate more than 1 million jobs in the ICT sector.

Recent legal events have created a chilling effect on the growth of the BPO sector. Sama Global CEO Wendy Gonzalez indicated that Kenya could stand to lose more than 2,500 jobs earmarked for Kenyan youth as part of the firm’s growth plans this year, but more importantly, growth of the BPO sector as a whole. Eng Tanui said it is in the Government’s interest to secure such employment by addressing legal and related barriers.

“Sama is a global organization that currently employs more than 3,500 Kenyans and projects to increase this number by 2,500 by next year. I have heard their concerns, and I can confirm that the Government will relentlessly work to address operating challenges affecting Kenya’s competitiveness in the global market,” Eng Tanui said. He added: “The Government is committed to securing these 2,500 jobs by Sama as we race to formulate the necessary policies and regulations to accelerate the growth of players in the BPO sector.”

During the tour, Sama CEO Ms Gonzalez and Sama’s VP of Global Delivery, Annepeace Alwala, welcomed the Government’s assurance to address operating challenges as it seeks to grow and continue its long track record of growth in Kenya.

The global BPO market, Ms Gonzalez said, is estimated to be valued at more than $262 billion, with African countries continuing to emerge as the next BPO growth frontiers. She shared that The BPO sector is crucial in developing Artificial Intelligence (AI) systems that power the Automotive, Retail, Agricultural and Food technology sectors.

“Economic players are investing heavily in AI, with such investments now estimated to top $2 trillion by 2030. Notably, the AI sector is a growth line for players in the BPO sector as it requires substantial human support to build and validate input data,” Ms Gonzalez said. She added: “Sama has been in Kenya for the last 15 years and continues to provide quality formal jobs for Kenyans, providing value chain AI solutions for self-driving cars, virtual reality gaming consoles, fashion segmentation and Agricultural solutions for crop disease protection.”

Recently, Sama announced the unveiling of Platform 2.0, a re-engineered computer vision platform to reduce the risk of machine learning (ML) algorithm failures. The completely redesigned, scalable platform – consisting of SamaIQ, SamaAssure, and SamaHub – offers greater transparency for clients to minimize rework and allows Sama to deliver annotated data and insights three times faster. Platform 2.0 has achieved a 99% client acceptance rate for AI training data through SamaAssure, the industry’s highest quality guarantee.

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