The Kenyan Government is steadfast in its commitment to maintain the country’s competitiveness as a prime destination for ICT-based export-led labor services. Principal Secretary Eng John Tanui, from the State Department for Information Communications Technology (ICT) and Digital Economy, assured investors in the sector during his recent visit to the Nairobi operating hub of Sama, a leading provider of data annotation solutions driving the AI models of the future.
Eng Tanui emphasized that the Government has taken strategic measures to overcome operational barriers faced by players in the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) sector. To facilitate technology firms’ investments in Kenya, the Government is planning to establish more than 1450 digital hubs across the country, interconnected by a robust fiber optic backbone infrastructure. Such connectivity aims to bolster capacity-building efforts, contributing to the creation of over 1 million jobs in the ICT sector.
However, recent legal developments have posed challenges to the growth of the BPO sector. Sama Global CEO Wendy Gonzalez expressed concerns that Kenya could lose over 2,500 jobs designated for the country’s youth, which are part of the firm’s expansion plans for the year. This situation, if unresolved, could hamper the growth of the entire BPO sector. Eng Tanui acknowledged the significance of addressing legal and related obstacles to safeguard these valuable employment opportunities.
Eng Tanui assured, “Sama is a global organization that currently employs more than 3,500 Kenyans, and they plan to increase this number by 2,500 next year. I have listened to their concerns, and I can confirm that the Government is fully dedicated to resolving the operational challenges impacting Kenya’s competitiveness in the global market.” He further added, “The Government is committed to securing these 2,500 jobs provided by Sama as we expedite the formulation of necessary policies and regulations to accelerate growth for BPO sector players.”
During the tour of Sama, both CEO Wendy Gonzalez and Vice President of Global Delivery, Annepeace Alwala, welcomed the Government’s commitment to address operational challenges, appreciating the company’s longstanding presence and growth record in Kenya.
Ms. Gonzalez highlighted the significance of the BPO sector in developing Artificial Intelligence (AI) systems for various industries, including Automotive, Retail, Agricultural, and Food technology sectors. As the global BPO market is valued at over US$ 262 Billion, African countries, including Kenya, are emerging as key BPO growth frontiers.
“Economic players are heavily investing in AI, with projected investments surpassing US$ 2 trillion by 2030. The AI sector presents growth opportunities for players in the BPO industry, as it requires substantial human support for building and validating input data,” Ms. Gonzalez explained. “Sama has been operating in Kenya for the last 15 years, consistently providing quality formal jobs to Kenyans while offering AI solutions for self-driving cars, virtual reality gaming consoles, fashion segmentation, and Agricultural solutions for crop disease protection.”
Recently, Sama unveiled Platform 2.0, a re-engineered computer vision platform designed to minimize the risk of machine learning (ML) algorithm failures. The scalable platform, consisting of SamaIQ™, SamaAssure™, and SamaHub™, ensures greater transparency for clients, reducing rework, and enabling Sama to deliver annotated data and insights three times faster. The platform boasts a remarkable 99% client acceptance rate for AI training data through SamaAssure, setting the industry’s highest quality standard.
In conclusion, the Government’s dedication to clearing operational barriers and fostering a conducive environment for the BPO sector underscores Kenya’s commitment to maintain its competitive edge in the global ICT-based export services market. The collaboration between the Government and companies like Sama promises significant growth potential, contributing to the advancement of AI solutions and generating valuable employment opportunities for the country’s youth.