Outsourcing arrives Africa
In Accra Ghana and Dakar Senegal, American and French companies have set up outsourcing centers (an insurance processing center and a French call center). The above two countries have stable governments which is why foreign investment of this kind has been able to take place.
Africa has joined India and other South East Asian countries as part of the International Division of Labour in a global economy. The set up in African is the same as elsewhere: a few core workers in the North supported by large numbers of peripheral workers in the South many of whom are women and young children with huge discrepancies in wages. Meanwhile peripheral workers in the North are loosing jobs and a new class of urban poor are emerging.
In the case of Senegal the workers are being paid $200 per week (rising to $500 for the most productive) which is then at least $120 more than the minimum wage. This compares to $1200 paid to French workers in France. So the company is saving between $500 and $1000 per employee and the employee is making nearly double the local wage in a country where graduate unemployment is high.
On the surface it looks like quite a good deal for local employees and I doubt anyone could argue against that. After Africa there is no where else for the tenticles of the global economy to reach. Africa is the last stand so it will be interesting to see when at some point costs begin to rise there, what will the reaction of the MNC be. Nevertheless the fact is that the French company is saving so much money (more profit) and at the same time local French workers are loosing their jobs. Globalisation is simply another word for oppression. You take the jobs from one group and give it to another and another and another each time carving out more and more economies of scale by reducing the number of employees and their wages. The technology is there and it will continue to develop. In the future standard queries sent to call centers could be answered by robots again reducing employee numbers.
The workers in Dakar and Accra at present will enjoy their new found wealth and their countries will benefit from the overall economic impact of the job and wealth creation. But these are just temporary – the capitalist imperative will require the companies to move on to cheaper pastures in the future.