Zensar boss urges overhaul of SA immigration laws

Samuel Mungadze
By Samuel Mungadze, Africa editor
Johannesburg, 23 Sept 2019
Sandeep Kishore, CEO of Zensar Technologies.
Sandeep Kishore, CEO of Zensar Technologies.

An international IT executive, Sandeep Kishore, is urging the South African government to relook its policies to allow ease of immigration.

Kishore, CEO and MD of India’s global IT outsourcing firm Zensar Technologies, says current immigration laws are driving skilled workers away from the country.

He believes that sensible immigration reforms could help solve skills shortage in South Africa as well as increase productivity levels.

South Africa has experienced a spate of attacks on African and Asian migrants in recent weeks. It has also been reported that farmers and business owners were leaving the country, selling off assets and trying to secure entry into Canada and Australia.

In an interview, Kishore told ITWeb that “countries like South Africa and the US have to look at immigration differently”.

The demands for talent by businesses are not matched by the available skills and the problem is growing, he explains. The IT industry is evolving at a much faster rate than the curricula at South African universities, leaving students ill-prepared as they enter the industry.  When hiring locally, he says, it takes between six months and a year to train new recruits up to the required standards.

One thing is certain: nobody is increasing their budgets to keep their lights on.

Kishore is of the opinion that SA government’s policies on immigration should be changed to allow companies to import skills with ease.

Kishore, who is based in the US, says Zensar has been growing significantly in South Africa and has been imparting skills to hundreds of interns. It has strong presence in the local financial services, retail and manufacturing sectors.

“South Africa is about 10% of our global business, which is significant compared to any other IT and digital services company. There are over 1500 Zensarians (Zensar employees and interns) in our South African business.

“We are a global company, but also proudly South African, rated BEE level two,” he adds.

Zensar has presence in SA and Kenya on the continent.

Kishore says businesses in South Africa are leading on the continent in embracing digital technologies, though the level of maturity differed.

He says digital platforms have made it easier for businesses to interact with customers at the right time and place wherever they are on any of their digital channels.

“What we are seeing in the South African market is a huge movement towards digital, everybody has moved to this bandwagon. The way we are addressing opportunities in the local market is by bringing artificial intelligence (AI) in all the conversations that we are having with our clients,” Kishore explains.

“Our view is that it’s all about customer engagement, it’s all about experience enabled by AI, delivered through interconnected smart platforms. Whether you are a financial services company or a technology company, you have to engage your customer to come to your digital platform.

He says the rapid advances in technology are pushing AI into the mainstream. “The appreciation of AI in South Africa is great, but different organisations have different levels of maturity.

“One thing is certain: nobody is increasing their budgets to keep their lights on. It means business as usual has to be driven through efficiency, through better automation and through better cost management.

“The increase in budget is only available to what makes exceptional client value and that appreciation is there in every client I meet,” he concludes.