Earlier this year, TLScontact secured a new contract with our French client in Cameroon, Congo-Brazzaville, Gabon, Madagascar, and Nigeria. We already run centres for France in Gabon and Madagascar, and in Nigeria, we took over from the previous supplier in October. However, in Cameroon and Congo-Brazzaville, France is outsourcing the visa application process for the first time.
In the past few weeks, we have opened several new centres for France across Sub-Saharan Africa, extending our footprint for France in this important region:
- Cameroon opened on 2 October 2023, with new centres in Douala and Yaoundé, plus a temporary location in Garoua, to open once a month.
- Congo-Brazzaville opened on 2 October 2023, with new centres in Brazzaville and Pointe-Noire.
- Nigeria opened on 3 October 2023, with new centres in Abuja and Lagos.
We are also renovating our existing centres for France in Gabon and Madagascar and extending our “Apply Anywhere” service, offering customers the option to submit their visa application at a location of their choice without coming to a visa application centre. Already available in Gabon, the service will now be rolled out for French visa customers in Lagos, Yaoundé, and Congo-Brazzaville.
The inaugurations of the new centres in Cameroon have been accompanied by press conferences with the French Embassy and Consulate General on September 27th in Yaoundé and the 28th in Douala.
On this occasion, French Ambassador to Cameroon Thierry Marchand announced, “I am very happy to inaugurate these new visa application centres. They will allow us to offer a faster, smoother service and more proximity to our visa applicants in Cameroon.”
Cross-functional collaboration to prepare for centre openings
Collaboration is essential when preparing for a new market, as is the ability to understand and adapt to local nuances, regulations, and cultural sensitivities.
Antoine Rault, Client Director and his team have been heavily involved in the rollout, coordinating with our French client and operations colleagues on a daily basis to resolve any last-minute issues. As he explains, “The success of this project has relied on strong collaboration both across our organisation and with our client at the central and local levels. We are delighted to have this new opportunity to expand our footprint with France in this key region, and are committed to delivering excellence every step of the way.”
Female leadership at the helm
We have taken a dual approach to talent acquisition when building the teams for these new operations. External recruitment has brought fresh perspectives and diverse skill sets to the team. We have also encouraged internal promotions from within our existing teams. In total, 76 new employees have been onboarded, while also promoting TLScontact employees from elsewhere in Sub-Saharan Africa to leadership positions. 62% of the staff in the new locations are women, and we have achieved an impressive 100% female leadership team in the region!
Comprehensive training for new recruits
To ensure the readiness of the centres, we have prioritised training of new staff. This investment in skill development ensures that our teams are well-prepared to meet client requirements and offer the best possible service to visa applicants. Training has taken place both virtually and on the ground to ensure that all aspects of visa operations are covered. Our teams have also attended operations training in other centres, visiting existing TLScontact sites in Egypt, Cameroon, Gabon, and Madagascar to dive deeper into the visa processes.
A dedicated internal team of experts to support the launch
To address the unique challenges posed by this expansion in Sub-Saharan Africa, an internal team of seasoned operations experts has been deployed to help ensure the success of the centre openings. They are at the disposal of the local teams, providing assistance during this first phase. Their role is crucial to help our new teams navigate the intricacies of the local markets and optimise the operations process.
The visa market in Sub-Saharan Africa is primed for growth, and TLScontact is determined to be at the forefront of this evolution. With a relentless focus on operational excellence, we are well-prepared to embrace the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.