1. Johannesburg, South Africa. The unenviable prize for the most dangerous call centre city goes to Johannesburg, one of 4 South African cities in our list and one which will undoubtedly be questioned by some (especially those who want to market South Africa as a call centre destination). However, the facts are quite simple. Johannesburg has an exceptionally high crime rate especially in terms of violent crimes including gun crimes. Drive round the wealthier suburbs of Johannesburg and the sheer volume of high walls, electric fences & security guards show the fear within which its inhabitants exist. Murder rates in South Africa are over 50 times higher than the UK and 10 times higher than even The United States. Johannesburg may be a fairly popular destination for call centres but for those who go there to manage their outsourced partners, it's often an unnerving time.
2. Lahore, Pakistan. In 2013, The United States withdrew all its diplomatic staff from the consulate in Lahore after receiving a credible threat. Foreign companies and their personnel are often the subject of threats in Lahore but attacks are very limited. The fear of violence hasn't stopped a number of call centres from setting up there but clients aren't rushing there.
3. Barranquilla, Colombia. Barranquilla would like to be known as the home town of global singing sensations Shakira and a sizeable call centre industry. Whilst both of these are true, Colombia (and particularly Barranquilla) are more famous for organised crime, kidnapping, political instability and the drug trade. This combination has prevented the city's potential for call centre activity from being reached and an often uneasy stay for the clients who are there.
4. Port Elizabeth, South Africa. Despite being one of South Africa's smallest cities (both in terms of total population and number of call centre agents), Port Elizabeth is well known for its high levels of violent crimes. One call centre in Port Elizabeth provides a detailed guide for would-be-outsourcers of call centre activity on how to avoid the more unsafe parts of the city.
5. Tel Aviv, Israel. The call centre industry in Israel has grown on the back of European settlers who moved to the country unable to speak in fluent Hebrew & a number of companies have only been too keen to take advantage of its multi-lingual capabilities. The challenges facing Israel's security will be of no surprise to anyone and neither will its place in this list.
6. Durban, South Africa. South Africa's second entry in this list highlights the reputation the country has as one of the most violent countries in the world. As with Cape Town, Durban has many no-go areas for foreign visitors and those visiting on business are advised to be aware of these.
People are often surprised to hear that a
surprisingly large call centre industry in Kenya
which is almost exclusively in Nairobi.
Nairobi has been no stranger to foreign
tourists who visit for its wonderful nature but its
image has been hit by the shopping centre massacre.
With foreign visitors now the apparent target
of those who wish to harm Kenya, it's to consider
your safety when targeting the country.
8. Karachi, Pakistan. Pakistan has been nowhere near as successful in attracting call centres as its neighbours in India in no small part due to its political instability. Despite the negative media surrounding Pakistan, violent crime is quite low. Despite this, the limited number of foreigners managing call centre contracts there are normally closely protected by armed bodyguards.
9. Kingston, Jamaica. Many countries in The Caribbean have been expanding their call centre industries and Jamaica is no exception but away from the all-inclusive holiday resorts, Kingston has a reputation for being a very unsafe place for foreign visitors.
10. Cape Town, South Africa. South Africa's 2nd largest city may seem an idyllic location especially when overlooked by Table Mountain. However, its reputation among visitors is often terrifying for foreign visitors. With an exceptionally high murder rate in Cape Town, companies outsourcing there have been keen to ensure their staff sent there on placements are often confined to hotels when out of the call centres.
11. Chisinau. Moldova. Chisinau is supposed to be one of the easiest places in the world to find call centre agents who are bi-lingual in English & Russian. After the fall of the Soviet Union, crime rose dramatically in Moldova as organised goals moved in to fill the power vacuum which had been left behind. The country is well known for both people & drug trafficking and the country's judicial system is weak. All of this limits its potential to be the bi-lingual English and Russian call centre destination of choice.
12. Bucharest, Romania. Bucharest is the only EU member state in the top 20. Romania has a not insignificant call centre industry mainly due to its EU membership, low cost of labour and availability of language skills. In many ways, Bucharest (and all of Romania) has quite low crime rates in areas such as murder and other violent crimes. However, of all EU States, Romania is well known for corruption & also has a major issue with crimes against tourists (and those people visiting on business). Crimes such as pick-pocketing, mugging & credit card fraud are exceptionally common which all would be outsosurcers need to be very aware of.
13. Panama City, Panama. Many countries in Latin America have become fairly popular for bi-lingual English and Spanish call centre activity originating from The United States. Despite being one of the more successful economies in Central America, Panama suffers from a high murder rate and some areas of the country are no-go areas for those outsourcing call centres there.
14. Cairo, Egypt. A few years ago, Egypt's call centre was growing at a fairly steady pace. Since then, the country's strong man President has been ousted as was his democratically elected successor. An uneasy calm still exists across Egypt. The tourists are staying away as are many of the people who once outsourced call centres there.
15. Detroit, United States. You might think it's unusual to have any part of the United States in the list at all but Detroit has a serious image problem. In 2013, it became the largest city in The USA to file for bankruptcy which was nothing more than a symptom of the problems faced in this once great city. High unemployment has attracted call centres but visitors are always reminded to be safe.
16. Zamboanga City, Philippines. You can't have escaped noticing the massive expansion of call centres in The Philippines. The many foreigners know working in the industry seem to love The Philippines especially the highly sophisticated areas of Metro Manila such as Makati City. However, in the South of The Philippines, foreigners have tended to stay away. The recognition of the Filipinos as call centre agents has led many companies to set up in cheaper parts of the country and there are some (only a few) in the city of Zamboanga in Mindinao. Known for an insurgency and a reputation for kidnapping foreigners, Zamboanga rightly takes its place on the list.