Although India and Southeast Asia remain favourite locations for international companies to outsource their services, countries in Africa are leaping through the global outsourcing list and are progressively evolving into competitive hotspots for both information technology outsourcing (ITO) and business process outsourcing (BPO) services.\nAmong the reasons making Africa an attractive outsourcing destination are fast-growing economies \u2013 according to Focus Economics, six out of the 15 fastest-growing economies in the world are in Africa \u2013 cheap labour, improving infrastructure and growing investment from international companies.\nModernisation of ICT infrastructure, increased technology adoption \u2013 including data analytics and cloud computing \u2013 and regional governments investment and incentives are also contributing to place African countries under the outsourcing spotlight.\u00a0\nSome argue that outsourcing, despite being fuelled by the morally dubious business aim to find cheap labour, can also have a positive impact on people living and working in developing economies.\n\u201cBy responsibly and ethically employing hundreds of thousands of people, BPOs have a role to play in shifting the social landscape in emerging economies around the world,\u201d said a report from Telus International, a Canadian outsourcing firm, and Impakt, a social responsibility consultancy, quoted in the British daily The Guardian.\nA key driver for outsourcing across the continent is the adoption of automation technologies. Although automation is already impacting and displacing workers across sub-Saharan Africa, the introduction of such automation technologies is seen as a must to keep up with global markets.\nAlexander Gaus and Wade Hoxtell, in a paper commissioned by the Global Public Policy Institute, wrote than although introducing automation technologies in Africa will cause work displacement in the short run, promoting the conditions to introduce such automation will be necessary for sub-Saharan Africa to keep up on productivity and competitiveness with the rest of the world.\nAccording to the AT Kearny Global Service Location Index, Kenya, South Africa and Ghana \u2013 which once held the fifth, sixth, and twelfth positions respectively \u2013 shot down the list to 43rd, 49th, and 45th place as a consequence of increasing competition in the outsourcing sector.\u00a0\nA competitive sector\nAs a report covering ITO in Africa for the period 2016-2020 by market research company TechNavio indicates, the IT outsourcing market in the continent is highly competitive.\nRegional governments are increasing their IT spending to attract multinational investment, who in turn are exploring the opportunities of this emerging market.\nAccording to TechNavio, the top ITO vendors in the African market are Accenture, CSC, HP and IBM, followed by Capgemini, Fujitsu, Infosys, Cognizant, HCL, TCS, and Xerox.\nThese vendors are calling for their clients to outsource non-core business process IT functions to the region, and the way to differentiate among themselves is moving up the value chain and providing more cost-effective services.\nBanking and finance, telecommunications and healthcare industries are leading the ITO services in the African continent.\nOne of the main challenges facing the finance sector is the management of vast amounts of customer and financial data. The outsourcing of IT functions to third-party service providers in the region is seen as a way of alleviating the cost and complexities associated with this data management.\nIn 2013, French electronic payments firm Ingenico announced a deal between African Resonance, its local value-added re-seller, and Standard Bank, one of the main Pan-African financial institutions, to implement an outsourcing business model.\nThrough this agreement, African Resonance supplies Standard Bank with Ingenico\u2019s Countertop and Wireless payment devices to provide end-to-end secure management of services to Standard Bank.\nThe growing Africa telecommunications industry is coming with an increased IT spending, which is leading to more IT outsourcing contracts to the service providers for new technology implementations at a low cost.\nIn healthcare, hospitals and speciality clinics tend to outsource their IT operations to service providers to reduce the cost of in-house IT department expenses. TechNavio sees growing investment and outsourcing opportunities in IT services such as data centres, healthcare information systems and supply chain and logistics.\u00a0\nWhich countries are leading outsourcing services in sub-Saharan Africa?\nAs an international business centre, South Africa is at the top of Sub-Saharan countries which serves as a regional hub for outsourcing services.\nUK consultancy firmElixirr calculates that South Africa has a higher number of accountants, chartered financial analysts and actuaries than most outsourcing destinations. Its strong ties with the west, a strong graduate pool, convenient time zone for trade with Europe and English as a first language also places the country in an advantageous position for BPO delivery centres.\nAs CIO Africa reported recently, super-fast internet and a Francophone population has turned Madagascar into a BPO destination hotspot for French-speaking companies, challenging established outsourcing destinations like Tunisia and Morocco.\nIn East Africa, Kenya remains the regional leader in ICT based industries thanks to a fast-growing services sector, being in a suitable time zone for business with Europe and also having English as main trade language.\nIn 2007, BPO was named one of the six flagship clusters included in Kenya\u2019sVision 2030 roadmap and Kenya is a regional leader in ICT-based industries. The country is positioning itself to take advantage of the growth in local and regional outsourcing deals.\nHowever, poor infrastructure, including power outages, rampant corruption and political turmoil present important challenges for Kenya at the time of keeping pace with its leading outsourcing position in the region.\nGhana\u2019s strong government support and incentives for companies that outsource their services to the country place it at the top of outsourcing destinations in Western Africa. The country has a developed finance industry and strong public institutions with relatively high government efficiency.\nThe country is also in a favourable time zone for doing business with Europe (zero to two hour difference), English as a first language, and offers a BPO \u2018free zone\u2019 area outside its capital, Accra, offering international companies zero taxes for 10 years and eight percent tax after a 10-year period.\nBut similarly to Kenya, ongoing infrastructure challenges, perceived high business and political risk and high rental costs for suburban offices are holding back the strength of Ghana as a preferred global destination for outsourcing services.