south african ict firm signs up with fiji
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South Africa’s major ICT operator Mind Pearl has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Fiji to set up its call centre and back office processing operations here.

Representatives from the Cayman Islands-based call centre operation signed the MOU with interim Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, on behalf of the interim Government, in Suva yesterday.

Fiji Islands Trade and Investment Bureau (FTIB) chairman Francis Narayan said Mind Pearls had had its eyes on Fiji for sometime.

He said the company would start its operations next year with recruitment to start in March 2009.

He added the FTIB was converting one of its existing factories in Kalabo Tax Free Zone in Nasinu to provide suitable accommodation, which Mind Pearl would rent from FTIB.

“They will start with, of course, naturally small numbers but within two years, they will build up to about 3000 employees,” Narayan told Fijilive.

“Mind Pearl, once fully operational with these 3000 people, would pump something like $75 million in the economy by way of payroll,” he said. Potential employees in this call centre business will be paid an annual package of between $12,000 and $15,000.

“And when you take the multiplier effect of say at five, which the Reserve Bank of Fiji (RBF) estimates to be about five, it is basically an additional $375 million into the economy. This, we believe will be very beneficial to the economy,” he added.

Narayan highlighted another interesting aspect of this operation that once operational, this activity would generate in the vicinity of almost $50 million in foreign exchange earnings every year.

He said this was very significant compared to the sugar industry that churns about $200 million.

“We are also hoping that with the entry of Mind Pearl, other companies are going to come in,” Narayan said.

He recalled the FTIB’s recent ICT trade mission to India where a great deal of interest was generated by Indian businesses in setting up BPO operations in Fiji.

“We believe with the entry of someone prestigious as Mind Pearl, it would help satisfy more Indian companies to come to Fiji also. So, we are pleased about this development and we believe it is a major breakthrough for us in the IT sector,” Narayan said.

“I could personally say that this could be the start of developing a viable and vibrant ICT business in Fiji.”

Mind Pearl is one of the major IT companies in the world in the airline business handling backroom office or call centre operations for the airline industry, with clients companies like United Arab, Singapore Airlines, and South African Airways among others.