Belize is one of the least competitive economies; that was confirmed today by the Minister with responsibility for Technology, Joy Grant, at the launch of the national energy policy. As to technology, the percentage of Belizeans with access to internet Belize is at the bottom of the list, compared to other countries in the region. In fact, Belize is only better off than Haiti.
Senator Joy Grant, Minister, Ministry of ESCT&PU
“The Global Competitiveness Index report of 2012 ranks Belize as one of the least competitive economies in the world. We are ranked one hundred and twenty-three out of one hundred and forty-two countries. In the region, only Haiti has a lower rank. On further analysis, we note that on technological readiness indices, Belize is ranked one hundred and one for internet users per every hundred people in the population and ranks one hundred and thirty-two of one hundred and forty-two countries for the foreign direct investment and technology transfer. With regard to communication and information technology in the region, Barbados has a seventy percent ICT penetration for internet. Costa Rica, which is closer to Belize in size and topography, has thirty percent penetration. Belize has ten percent penetration; Belize City being the highest and Punta Gorda being the lowest. We have been actively considering initiatives to provide Belizeans with internet at an affordable price. It has been documented that there is a direct correlation between internet connectivity and economic growth. A ten percent increase in connectivity, results in zero point six to one point two percent GDP growth. An increase in growth will mean more employment and more persons emerging from poverty and hopelessness. This will have an impact on our educational system, our investment strategies, and our development priority.”
Telemedia Chairman, internet cheaper than coke; no joke
Earlier this year, a survey of the Caribbean indicated that Belize is amongst the countries with the slowest and most expensive internet speeds. And as the dominant provider, the criticism landed squarely in front of Telemedia executives, we can only assume while they sipped on some carbonated soft drinks. Chairman, Net Vasquez, doesn’t believe the report takes into consideration all the pertinent factors. And in his opinion, at times Telemedia’s internet is cheaper than Bowen’s coldest Coca Cola. But instead of fizz, Vasquez’s comment quickly fizzled as we placed it alongside Senator Joy Grant’s recent speech that confirms Belize is far behind in internet speed and connectivity.
Net Vasquez, Chairman, Telemedia
“A few weeks ago, an article surfaced in the local press which made reference to our rates in comparison with other countries in the region. I want to take this opportunity to give a little explanation with those comparisons that were made. I feel that it is misleading and improper when apples are compared with oranges. it is a bit unfair for the journalists to only include our public charges and not to ascertain our weighted average rate which is our actually rates inclusive of discounts and other packages that we offer. The fact that over ninety thousand students in Belize have access to free internet from B.T.L. must also be considered when trying to ascertain our rates because this is a substantial cost to company. And ninety thousand is also one-third of the population of Belize. We also allow the entire population of Belize to the surf internet for five dollars Belize per day. This means that they do so at the rate eighty-seven cents U.S. per day on double and triple days. Now how much lower do you want a rate; eighty-seven cents per day on double and triple day? Now to me these rates are even lower than any rate that was published in the chart by the press. In fact; that eighty-seven cents is even cheaper than a coke; okay remember that.”
Senator Joy Grant, Minister of ESCT&PU [File: September 27th, 2012]
“The Global Competitiveness Index report of 2012 ranks Belize as one of the least competitive economies in the world. We are ranked one hundred and twenty-three out of one hundred and forty-two countries.”
“The population of Jamaica; when comparing our rates to that of Jamaica. Jamaica is approximately have about three million people in population; which means that when they purchase bandwidth, they provide for a market of three million people for the internet service. Now when we buy, we buy for a market of three hundred thousand—ten times smaller—therefore they get a better rate to begin with. And when they sell; to sell to a market of ten times bigger. So you just cannot take the rate of Jamaica and compare it with the rate of Belize. But we give rates, like I told you a while ago, at a rate cheaper than a coke for an entire day; where you can surf the internet for an entire day every day of the month.”
Senator Joy Grant [File: September 27th, 2012]
“With regard to communication and information technology in the region, Barbados has a seventy percent ICT penetration for internet. Costa Rica, which is closer to Belize in size and topography, has thirty percent penetration. Belize has ten percent penetration; Belize City being the highest and Punta Gorda being the lowest. We have been actively considering initiatives to provide Belizeans with internet at an affordable price. It has been documented that there is a direct correlation between internet connectivity and economic growth.”
Vasquez says Jamaica is also half the size so less equipment needed such as towers.