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Telecommunications

Telecommunications: A Growing Sector with International Presence

Sector Overview

Haiti's government has been aware of importance of the sector and eager to improve its ICT infrastructure. The national telecommunication company (TELECO) was privatized in 2010 opening the door for private investors to tap Haiti's promising market.[1] Viettel, the largest mobile telephone operator in Vietnam, won the bidding of the privatization of TELECO under cooperation with IFC. In 2010, Viettel acquired the majority of shares, transferring an initial US$ 59 million. The company's total investment amount reaches around US$ 100 million.[2]

Most of the ICT infrastructure in Haiti was severely damaged or destroyed by the earthquake in 2010. It is hard to analyze the current ICT situation due to lack of official information. It is true that Haiti's telecommunication sector is in dire need of reconstruction. However,several indicators from World Bank show that some progress had been made during 2000-2009 [1].

Indicator

2000

2009

Sector structure

Separate telecommunications
regulator

Status of main fixed-line
telephone operator

Yes

Mixed

Yes

Public

Level of competition


International long distance
service


Mobile telephone service


Internet service

Monopoly

Partial competition

competition

Competition

Competition

Competition

Sector performance

Telephone lines (per 100 people)

0.8

1.1

Mobile cellular subscriptions (per 100 people)

0.6

36.4

Fixed internet subscribers (per 100 people)

0.1

1.0

Personal computers (per 100 people)

0.1

5.1

Households with a television set (%)

23

25

Internet users (per 100 people)

0.2

10

International internet bandwidth
(bits/second/person)

5

16

Major improvements have been made particularly in the telecommunication sector. Telephone subscriber (per 100 inhabitants) increased from 1.5 (2000) to 6.9 (2005), 37.4 (2009).[1] In the same period, internet users per 100 inhabitants grew from 0.2 (2000) to 6.4 (2005), 10.0 (2009).[2] It is estimated that mobile telephone service sector has a clientele of roughly 3.33 million individuals, which approximately accounts for 30% of total population (10 million).[3]

DIGICEL, HAITEL and NATCOM are providing mobile telephone service in Haiti. The country's market leader, DIGICEL acquired COMCEL (VOILA) in April, 2012.[4] NATCOM, which is the result of the privatization of TELECO, is the newest but fastest-growing competitor. Internet access service is provided by ACCESS-HAITI, HAINET, CAN and LINK. The companies are authorized to use a network integrating high speed internet and all those involving broadband transmission.[5]

Opportunities and perspectives

Most of investment opportunities are mainly focused on the public sector, given that the country is faced with the severe necessity of ICT infrastructure reconstruction. In a roundtable with ITU, Haiti identified 40 projects as a priority in the reconstruction of its telecommunications and ICT sector, ranging from basic infrastructure including emergency application to broad legal framework reform.

Haiti's government is implementing a development strategy plan which includes mega projects in the ICT sector. One of the projects is to expand CT infrastructure by building multimedia centers in the twelve regional poles including: Jérémie,Les Cayes, Miragoane, Jacmel, Port-au-Prince, Mirebalais,Saint-Marc, Hinche,Gonaives, Fort-Liberte, Cap-Haitien, Port-de-Paix [1] [ELIS1]

Basic connectivity infrastructure is an attractive field of investment due to its priority for the country. Like in other countries, ICT has been a key sector for Haiti since it plays a vital role in helping a country's economic development. It has even gained in importance to Haiti after the earthquake 2010 since proper use of technology helps to minimize damage and losses from natural disasters. IDB has already approved a technical cooperation to develop a National Plan of Connectivity after a conference with the World Bank.[1] Communications network including cables, broadband are highly demanded for economic development in Haiti.

Finally, there is also the possibility of exporting ICT services from Haiti to foreign countries. Haiti's competitive labor cost, its language capabilities in French and -to some extent- English, as well as its historic ties to major sales markets could bode well for the ICT service sectors. Demands for IT supplies are consistently increasing in private sector. Given the country's francophone culture and nature as well as its proximity to the US, the offshore services sector is an option for the future.[2]

[1] IDB internal report (Connectivity in Haiti: Broadband
infrastructure for economic development and transformation of public sector)

[2] IDB internal report (Haiti Contact Center Feasibility Study)

[1] Pays Emergent en 2030, Plan Stratégique De Developpment D'Haiti >> Pays Emergent En 2030, Government of Haiti

[ELIS1] WE will include a self-made map later

[1] Economic indicators, Country profile, UNDATA, UN

[2] Economic indicators, Country profile, UNDATA, UN

[3] Telecommunications, CFI Invest in Haiti (www.cfihaiti.net)

[4] (http://www.digicelgroup.com/en/media-center/press-releases/achievements/digicel-group-acquires-voil-in-haiti)

[5] Telecommunications, CFI Invest in Haiti (www.cfihaiti.net)

http://devdata.worldbank.org/ict/hti_ict.pdf

[1] Promoting Investment in ICT in the Caribbean, IDB (May 2006)

[2] IFC Investment Generation in Haiti, IFC

http://devdata.worldbank.org/ict/hti_ict.pdf

The National Telecommunications Council (CONATEL) is the entity mandated to regulate telecommunications in Haiti. It is under the supervision of the Ministry for Public Works, Transport and Communications (MTPTC). It was created in September 1969, and its mission defined in August 1987.

At an operational level, it is responsible for (a) proposing to the government the rates to be applied to different types of communications, (b) ensuring the oversight of telephone companies and the coordination of their network, (c) evaluating requests for new licenses and modifications proposed by existing firms, (d) arbitrating disputes between networks and conflicts arising between networks and users, (e) managing the band of radio-electric frequencies.

Telephone service

Four companies operate telephone services: NATCOM, HAITEL, COMCEL and DIGICEL. NATCOM was born of the acquisition by Vietnamese firm VIETEL of the majority of the stocks of TELECO during the privatization of TELECO, a semi-public company belonging to BRH (Haiti's central bank), which had the monopoly on telecommunications. HAITEL (1998) has a majority of private Haitian capital; COMCEL (1999) and DIGICEL (2005) are direct foreign investments. The agreement struck with VIETEL opens the door for the re-establishment of a network of landlines which had disappeared from the Haitian market.

Cellular telephone service has a clientele of roughly 3.33 million individuals for a population of over 10 million individuals. It is provided by four private companies, with the following market shares : HAITEL (11.4%), COMCEL (24.7%) and DIGICEL (60%). NATCOM began operations during the first week of September 2011. It is also authorized to offer cellular telephone service.

HAITEL operates using CDMA/EVDO technology, while COMCEL and DIGICEL use GSM/EDGE. HAITEL offers coverage overr 25% of the national territory; COMCEL, 90% and DIGICEL, 95%.

Internet service

Internet access service is provided by four suppliers: ACCESS-HAITI, HAINET, ACN and LINK. They are authorized to use a network integrating high-speed internet services and all those involving broadband transmission. Several thousand Direct Way type VSAT are installed in Haiti. An interchange point ensures routing of local traffic from internet access providers. This interchange point is privately owned.

How CFI can assist you:

The telecommunications sector in Haiti has great potential for growth and great potential for investment. CFI can assist investors in learning more about opportunities in the telecommunications sector. CFI acts like a hub to cross-reference agencies and entities in order to provide business and legal information to investors. CFI provides help to investors by facilitating site selection or enterprise installation, choice of professional's advisors, site visits, follow-up of the project until achievement.

For more information about the Telecommunications sector, please visit CONATEL's website