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EXCLUSIVE: Multichoice Lays off Staff to Outsource Call Centre; Denies Hamya’s Exit

Multichoice Uganda which runs DStv and Go TV has laid off about 50 staff in what appears a move to cut costs as competition in the pay TV industry heats up.

Multichoice had enjoyed benefits of a monopoly for many years until rivals Azam TV, Zuku, StarTimes and KWESE TV entered the market.

There was a time when DStv would register about 100,000 active subscribers per month.

But this has changed with new players eating into DStv’s market share.

ChimpReports understands that Multichoice this month decided to outsource its call centre, leaving scores jobless.

Multichoice spokesperson Tina Wamala told us on Friday that the outsourcing of ISon BPO Uganda came after “careful consideration and assessment of our call centre”.

ISON BPO says on its website that it has a “strong focus in sub-saharan Africa” and runs “operations in 10 countries in Africa and India with 6000 employees within 3 years of its establishment.”

Owned by Indians, the company whose headquarters are based in Nairobi, Kenya, offers outsourced voice and customer relationship management services to companies across Africa.

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The key executive members have been identified as Pravin Kumar (Global Chief Executive Officer and Director), Ramesh Awtaney (Founder and Chairman), Vivek Gupta (Founder and Director), Sanjay Kamboj (Chief Financial Officer) and Shailesh Mohan (Head of Operations).

Wamala said the “affected staff were engaged early enough” to be aware of the transition,” adding, the new system would “allow us to be more efficient and improve customer service.”

Insiders at DStv say it has lost about 40 percent of its sales, settling for about 60,000 subscribers during peak moments.

“DStv used to be aggressive in marketing but it appears the team is quite laid back. On the other hand, its rivals have aggressively increased their presence in the market and heavily cut their subscription rates,” said an official at the pay TV.

Outsourcing of services appears to be a fashionable trend being embraced by multinational companies in Uganda.

Airtel Uganda outsources its engineering department works, a move the telecom has defended.

Airtel Public Relations Officer, Faith Fiona Bugonzi last year said “outsourcing is a widely embraced international business model” which “facilitates economies of scale, ensures best practice within competitive multi country environments and enables profitability.”

If this trend is not contained, thousands of Ugandans including professionals will be rendered jobless.

About 90 percent of the jobs in the Airtel IT Department alone were taken away from Ugandans and the same jobs were being done remotely in India.

Forced leave?

The unfolding events at Multichoice come amid reports that the General Manager Charles Hamya was in January sent on forced leave to pave way for a comprehensive audit of the institution’s performance.

The laying off of staff and outsourcing of the call centre were implemented during Hamya’s absence.

Wamala dismissed as “disturbing” and “malicious” claims that Hamya was forcefully sent out, saying he has been on “sabbatical leave” since January.

“He is still very much with us,” said Wamala, who further pointed out that Hamya “in his capacity as General Manager of MultiChoice Uganda yesterday met with UCC Executive Director” to discuss issues affecting Pay TV operators in Uganda.

Wamala also confirmed that Willem Hattingh from South Africa was serving as Acting General Manager in Hamya’s absence.

Asked to comment on reports that Hamya’s personal laptop was taken to help in investigations, Wamala responded: “I am not aware about that.”

Wamala further said she was unable to comment on claims that Hamya was being investigated by the Head Office in South Africa.

She, however, said Hamya would return to office in June, 2018.

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