Source: Caribbean 360
Government will over the next few weeks unveil a five-point plan aimed at expanding Jamaica’s information and communications technology (ICT)/business process outsourcing (BPO) sector, Industry, Investment and Commerce Minister Dr. Christopher Tufton, has announced.
This, he says, is with a view to doubling the number of jobs the sector currently provides, as well as enhancing the industry’s global competitiveness.
Dr. Tufton told a media briefing yesterday that the US$145 million local BPO industry accounts for six percent of the Caribbean and Latin American market, which is valued at US$2.5 billion.
The Minister said the local sector, which comprises approximately 26 firms, accounts for nearly 11,000 full time jobs.
He noted that analysts conservatively estimate that Jamaica’s ICT/BPO sector must grow at a compounded rate of between 20 and 21 percent per annum over the next four to five years, in order to remain competitive regionally.
Pointing out that at the regional level, the sector is expected to grow to US$5 billion by 2013, Dr. Tufton said global industry watchers have indicated that Jamaica is “well positioned” to address the growing needs for a “near shore investment destination.”
“Business processing outsourcing has, increasingly, become the best practice for global corporations seeking reduced costs by focusing on core activities, process and technological improvements, while benefitting from reduced transaction costs and easier markets. The sector ranges from basic sales to more technical support in areas such as health care, finance and logistics management,”’ he said.
Noting that BPO is “big business,” the Minister said global expenditure which totalled US$460 billion in 2007, is projected to reach US680 billion at the end of 2011. Further, that information from the firm, International Data Corporation (IDC) suggests that the global market will grow at an annual rate of nine per cent, and reach approximately US$1 trillion within three years.
Against this background, Dr. Tufton said increased investments in the local ICT sector will be a “top priority” of the administration over the next 12 to 18 months. In this regard, he advised that the government’s main investment promotion agency, JAMPRO, will mobilise its resources to attract more ICT entrepreneurs and corporations to invest in Jamaica.
“It is our position, as a Government, that the local ICT/BPO sector presents the greatest opportunity to create jobs in the shortest possible time; jobs which will, in turn, increase the multiplier effect in the economy,” he said.
To this end, Dr. Tufton said that the administration’s five-point plan to drive expansion of the sector, will focus on: market/client segmentation and targeting; infrastructure build out; a policy and legislative framework to stimulate and protect the industry; a cost effective approach to addressing training needs for the industry; and financing to support ICT activity.
The Minister also announced the appointment of ICT entrepreneur and businessman, Patrick Casserly as Ambassador/Special Envoy with responsibility for ICT in the Ministry.
He explained that Casserly will assist with the refinement and execution of the ICT promotion strategy, with a view to realising prospective investment opportunities.
“He will be integral to all activities relating to the development and promotion of the ICT sector in Jamaica, and will work closely with JAMPRO to execute a programme of promotional activities, specifically geared towards the attraction of investors in this sector and the expansion of existing companies within the local industry,” Dr. Tufton explained.