Last week, the US retail giant Amazon announced that it would be opening its first African office in South Africa with a real estate investment of over 4 billion rand ($280 million). The headquarters would reside on 70,000 square metres (17.3 Acres) of land on the outskirts of the city centre.

The building project is expected to roll out in phases, with construction set to take place over a period of three to five years. The project is expected to create up to 19,000 indirect and induced jobs.

Amazon’s history in South Africa dates back to 2004, with a customer service unit operating since 2010. 

Over the last decade, Amazon has also boosted its customer service capacity centre in South Africa. In 2020, Amazon announced that it would hire an additional 3,000 people in South Africa – almost doubling its local staff to 7,000 – to provide 24-hour support to customers in North America and Europe.

Amazon has also increased its local listings over the years. In 2019, Amazon Web Services (AWS) in South Africa had just 50 jobs listed. In 2021, this has increased to around 118 opportunities in the web service division and an additional 38 jobs in customer service,  corporate development, human resources and kindle content.

Amazon’s South African Career Portal

At the time of this publication, Amazon’s South African career portal listed 156 jobs, most of which are full-time and based in Cape Town.

About 80% of the job opportunities are in AWS operations with the remaining spread over customer service, the Kindle program, human resources, business development and students program.

The AWS operations positions require a Bachelor’s Degree in either information science or information technology, engineering science, computer science or any related field or equivalent experience in a technical position as a minimum. 

Amazon’s customer service roles are entry-level positions that require applicants to have a matric certificate (NQF Level 4), minimum service industry experience, reliable internet connection at home and strong communication skills. Almost all these jobs are referred to as Virtual Customer Service (VCS) positions, which allow applicants anywhere in South Africa to apply.

Amazon also offers several internship programmes for students or recent graduates of computer science, computer engineering, or related fields.

With 200 million paid prime members and over 300 million customers globally, Amazon serves 200+ countries and territories but its eCommerce services are not available in Africa. Could the announcement of its African headquarters and its increasing job listing be a hint that Amazon might be revisiting its eCommerce play in Africa?

Daniel Adeyemi | Author