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​A call centre is being set up in Moroka that aims to ease the entry of foreign investment into the country. Disabled people are being recruited for the facility.

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is to open an investment call centre in Joburg's biggest township, Soweto, in a bid to accelerate the country's economic growth and augment foreign investment.

The call centre is part of the department's bigger plan to become a "one-stop shop". It will open towards the end of March and will work to reduce administrative and regulatory backlogs, while facilitating a smooth entry for foreign investors.

Establishing an investment call centre is prescribed in the government's Plan of Action, which is aimed at improving the country's investment climate and the cost of doing business.

It will be a 10-seater state-of-the-art call centre at the Cheshire Home in Moroka, in the west of Soweto, and will employ disabled people from the surrounding areas.

Recruitment is already under way at the DTI in Sunnyside, Tshwane, confirms Yunus Hoosen, the DTI's director for investment promotion. It will be completed by mid-February; once appointed, agents will be required to undergo a six-week training programme, he says.

Thereafter, they will be given one-year contracts, "with a possible permanent position". Because the call centre will be a permanent fixture, "there will be plenty of positive spinoffs for the local community" in the future.

Once the centre is up and running, agents will be able to register and monitor the processing of investment applications worth more than R100-million, track down investment enquiries and follow-up with clients on progress made, the DTI notes on its website.

Operational costs
Foreign investment is crucial to any country's economic growth. The call centre will help to reduce the cost of operations for international investors, in order to attract more foreign cash.

The department says it will work concertedly with Telkom, the telecommunications utility, in lowering the cost of telecommunications for foreign investors, and promote the sector through the creation of jobs.

In 2006, the cabinet approved a plan to adopt business process outsourcing (BPO) as a key industry for national development. Plans included the creation of a state incentive scheme for BPO; a particular focus was placed on the development of call centres.

The department was expected to spend over R2-billion on this scheme over three years in an effort to make South Africa the world's third-biggest BPO centre after India and the Philippines by December 2008.

The call centre industry is one of the high-potential sectors targeted by the government to augment the country's economy and create employment.

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