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Direct competitors of Egypt's Red Sea coastline such as Turkey, Spain and others are getting benefits of busy beaches and flows of tourists as last have turned their back after several weeks of anti-government protests that forced president Hosni Mubarak to flee the country.
What about Outsourcing?
Some acclaimed experts already expressed their cautions with regards to perspectives of Egyptian outsourcing industry unless the situation stabilize soon. For the last several years Egypt’s outsourcing services industry demonstrated dynamic growth getting fame as a hotspot for global outsourcing.
In 2009, Egypt for the first time has joined joined Gartner's alphabetically-ranked annual list spelling out the world's top 30 leading locations for outsourcing services. One of the main treats of such a progress has been named Egypt’s government extensive support and liberalization of tax regime for ICT. Egypt received enormous support from the government, particularly in the ICT industry with a reported $2 billion investment in its telecommunications infrastructure.
This crisis might be a heavy blow to Egypt perception at the international outsourcing arena as despite its robust progress and high rankings, the country has a number of weaknesses among which most notorious - negative business perception.
An LSE Outsourcing Unit in its study “Beyond BRIC” noted that Egypt still suffers from a negative perception and a belief that it is a country regularly targeted by terrorists and government disputes.
From the history one might notice what role perception plays in such industry as IT outsourcing. As a perfect example India’s terrorist events and corruption scandals in 2008 which have irreversibly changed risk/rewards calculations in the whole outsourcing industry pushing India in its own outsourcing crisis.
Alignment of forces in the EMEA region
Egypt has been considered for years as a bridge between Europe, Middle East and Africa. The country has been competing with Morocco and East Europe for European clients, mainly from UK, France and Spain and was looking to expand its reach to Benelux market (Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg). The country has been positioning itself as a nearshore destination to Europe, following the growing nearshoring trend in the region and jumping on the bandwagon of Central and Eastern European cluster.
In its report “2009: The Year of Outsourcing Dangerously” the Black Book of Outsourcing included Egypt in the list of safe locations for operating with low downstream risk leaded by Central and Eastern Europe and Latin America, while the entire Africa region was recommended to be avoided.
However, the current crisis and its possible developments can have a detrimental effect on country’s outsourcing gains of past years. As in response to precarious conditions conservative and consensus-driven Europeans might not include Egypt in the list of preferable outsourcing destinations keeping short-sighted nearshore precedency.
Moreover, other emerging outsourcing hotspots such as Serbia, Romania, Ukraine and Belarus are on the track to grow their positions as leading locations for offshore/nearshore services placing a significant emphasis on IT and business process services providing a vehicle to their economic growth.
For Egypt there is everything still to play for and - we hope - its government will not forget lessons learned previously reacting in good faith and on reasonable grounds so to prevent disaster that will be remembered by next generations.