Madagascar does not seem to be the perfect place for outsourcing.
It's far from the rich Frankophone countries, the communication lines
to the rest of the world are bad, and there's no experience of doing
outsourced programming here.

But those problems are either A. Surmountable, or B. a potential
advantage in disguise.


There are clever people here.  There are good universities which
educate students in a western style and mindset.  So while Madagascar
is far away from Paris, it is closer, intellectually, to Paris than
India is to New York.

It is also much closer to the Frankophone world in terms of time zones
than Asian alternatives, and this is crucial to efficient work on a
reasonable schedule.  

Welcoming Foreign Managers

The very remoteness has its own attraction.

Madagascar could, as an outsourcing model, function a little
differently from the Indian one.  

Indian models attempt to provide project designers, project managers,
documentation, and programming -- in short, all roles possible.  This
is both good business (for them) and necessary, as India is so
isolated from the US by culture and time zones.  British or American
project managers do not want to go to India to manage the project, and
if they did go, they would be ineffectual, as the culture and language
is different.  Further, such managers would be NOT be welcomed,
because there is a real paranoia that foreign companies would steal
the employees if they actually met them.

Madagascar, on the other hand, could welcome Frankophone managers.
With very little capital, a single community of programming talent and
all-inclusive resorts could be built in eastern Madagascar,
providing beautiful weather all year long, beaches, lemur-speckled
forests and western hygiene and culture.

For at least ten years, such luxurious accomidations would remain
literally cheaper than a month in one's apartment in France.  And the
company would pay the expenses of such a place -- equivalent,
hypothetically, to $800 American.

Managers would leap to come, and would pay to bring their wife and
children, inexpensive as it is.  Madagascar is beautiful, and costs
are outrageously low.

Fear of Brain Drain

Madagascar would not have to fear that foreigners would steal their
best employees.  There are three main reasons for this.

      One: The lives of the programmers in the resort community of
           Madagascar would be better than any that they have
           experienced in past, and arguably better than they would
           experience in France.  By paying them enough, and feeding
           them and their families in the all-inclusive dining rooms
           (this makes production, purchasing and staff for the
           kitchens more regular and predictable, and works to lower
           the cost of food for the worker community) Malagasy
           programmers can be persuaded, RIGHTLY, that the quality of
           life in France or Belgium would actually be LOWER.

      Two: Cost of maintaining a worker on permanent contract in
           Madagascar will be much cheaper for a Frankophone company
           than bringing such a person "home", especially considering
           the benefits and taxes connected with full time hire in the
           mother country.

    Three: Scouting for people to bring home would be done by project
           managers.  Actually finding good talent to bring home would
           be killing the goose that lays the golden egg.  Bringing
           people back to France or Belgium would prevent a return to
           this resort lifestyle.

The Madagascar Branch Office -- there when you need it

The negligible time difference, and the ability to place a home-office
project manager on site, together with ubiquitous French language
(which needs polishing in many of the potential workers, but polishing
is comparatively easy with an existing base of knowledge), make the
Madagascar programming group a branch office, rather than an separate

Imagine the ability to hire an entire jelled programming group in a
branch office, and on one week's notice.  Imagine that the cost of
sending an experienced project manager to work with that staff would
be only $2500 for a month (on top of salary).  Imagine that the
project managers you have locally all WANT to go.

The ease that this represents, compared to a struggle with Indian
firms, and the low cost of it, compared to staffing up a large
full-time body of project programmers means that companies, once they
see the advantages, will maintain a group of small-project
programmers, large-scale project designers and mangers domestically,
but outsource the actual programming of large projects to Madagascar.

Intelligent companies would actually manufacture projects to be
outsourced, as a perk for their talented employees.

What's Needed

Communications: Lines to Madagascar are abysmal.  A fibre trunk to
	South Africa needs to appear as soon as possible.

Resort Communities: While building a resort or quality single-family
        housing in Madagascar is expensive by Malagasy standards, by
        American or French standards, it is absurdly cheap.  A
        community of high quality homes could be provided, as well as
        a resort building for under $1,000,000 US.  More expensive
        would be providing good plumbing, sewage treatment, and clean,
        reliable electrical power.  And of course, all this needs to
        be built near an airport.

Workers: The Universities of Antananarivo will need to begin preparing
        students for exactly this sort of work.  A three to four year
        program will be required, with many example projects and
        relationships with local Tana companies to provide (free or at
        reduced cost to the local companies) opportunities to perform
        exactly as the industry performs with foreign companies.

As you see, this requires three actors: The government, an outside
investor (hard currency is required, but laughably little by western
standards) and a University.

Economic benefit

French companies will pay $10 (20,000 Ariary) an hour for these
workers without batting an eye.  More expensive prices will require a
track record of good service.  This is ten times the salary of the
average Malagasy worker.

Foreign managers will bring their families to the resorts.  They will
spend money in the local economy.

Foreign guests of all types will tell others of Madagascar as a
tourist destination, and the resort communities will grow.

The money spent on communication will reduce costs and improve
efficiency for businesses all over Madagascar.

The domestic projects needed for production of programmers at
University will improve efficiency of domestic companies, and at very
little cost.

Importation of computer parts and domestic production of, for example,
computer cases, cables and other industries which Madagascar can get
into quickly and relatively cheaply, will both lower costs for the
whole country due to economies of scale, and provide an manufactured
export product to Africa.  Countries in Africa may be more likely to
order computer parts and cases from Madagascar, as their close-by
high-tech cousin instead of directly from China.  This would allow
Madagascar to get a cut as a shipping middleman for such items.

(Computer cases are particularly attractive to manufacture
domestically.  They take up a large volume on container ships, and
weigh very little.  They are not tremendously difficult to
manufacture, requiring sheet metal work, welding, and painting.)

When can it be done?

I would like to say "NOW!" but in truth, outsourcing to Madagascar
awaits the fibre line from South Africa.  However, the day after the
first bits fly over that cable, the business outlined above can begin
to operate.  Preparations should begin today, in both the financial
world and the local universities.