I recently spoke at an IPN event focused on examining parallels between Africa and Asia from a business, technology and enterprise perspective. Some of the panelists (including Aleem Waiji of Google and Joseph Nganga, an energy consultant) noted that Africa needs its own, locally-generated solutions that are appropriate to the region’s context.
This brings some interesting perspective to outsourcing models currently being tested in Africa. Many African firms get started by sub-contracting from Asia, rather than dealing directly with US clients. In the past, I’ve discouraged this — generally, prices are very low, and it’s tough to keep clients happy when you can’t engage with them directly.
The fact that they settle for these terms, however, indicates that there are some major structural problems at play that don’t affect Indian firms. African companies have unique needs that aren’t met by existing channels for finding work, negotiating contracts, and getting paid. Samasource is working on some parts of this problem, but there’s a huge need for more players in this space.