Govt official underlines potential of data warehousing, call center industries

Monday, September 26, 2011

Panama has great potential for developing a data warehousing and call center business, taking advantage of robust connectivity infrastructure and solid financial metrics, Frank de Lima, the country's deputy economy minister, told BNamericas.

The official said the country has yet to even "scratch the surface" with its potential for data warehousing.

"Panama's geographic position is a blessing. We don't have hurricanes or earthquakes like other countries have. We have six fiber optic lines that run from Panama. I think Panama is a safe haven for companies to use as a back up to house their data here," he said.

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As regards call centers, Panama has, over destinations like India, the advantage of being in the same time zone as the US, and computer manufacturer Dell and UK telecoms operator Cable & Wireless Panama have call center operations, de Lima said.

But the limited amount of proficient English speakers among Panama's population is an obstacle to that industry's growth.

That said, the government has significant education plans to boost the level of English, putting it on the national curriculum and providing instruction through national training institute Inadeh.

In a presentation, de Lima said foreign direct investment (FDI) totaled US$1.42bn in the first half of 2011, up 17% year on year.

The country - a logistical hub via the Panama Canal, which is due to double its capacity by 2014 - expects FDI to continue to be strong over the coming years, in turn boosting demand for IT services.

In 1H11, communications represented 9.1% of total GDP, the same level as financial services, while transportation and storage was the largest single segment, accounting for 15.3%.