MoBay Free Zone to be expanded; LIME to give up monopoly
The Montego Bay Free Zone is set for a 50,000 sq ft expansion and a break in the telecommunications services monopoly that was held by LIME.
The move forms part of Government's efforts to position Jamaica as the information and communication technology (ICT) and business process outsourcing centre of the Caribbean.
"There is no reason Jamaica should not be the centre of all telecommunications and business-related activities in the region. We are going to claim back that near source market (North America) and we all have to pool resources together, all of us, to achieve that," stated Minister of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining Phillip Paulwell.
Paulwell was speaking during a press conference at the Montego Bay Free Zone in St James yesterday.
The expansion is expected to begin over the next 12 months, while the break in the telecommunications monopoly will take immediate effect after LIME agreed to relinquish its exclusive arrangement which would have expired in 2015.
Chairman of the telecommunications company, Christopher Dehring, affirmed the company's commitment to development and sought to welcome other players to the Montego Bay Free Zone in the interest of national development.
"This partnership with the Government for the development of the ICT and telecoms services signals our total embrace of competition in the sector. We, at LIME, know that our community is not abstract to us and what benefits Jamaica benefits us."
The Montego Bay Free Zone has played a pivotal role in the growth and development of Jamaica as an attractive offshore investment destination. In the 2011-2012 financial year, ICT companies at the Free Zone contributed US$102 million to Jamaica's foreign-exchange earnings.
"Space is our greatest problem. Montego Bay is bursting at its seams and we have to create thousands of office spaces," Paulwell noted.
"If you see lands owned by the Government, we are prepared to work with you in a partnership because it makes no sense to have idle lands when we could collectively expand our space capacity and create jobs for our people.
He also pointed to Mandeville in Manchester as a new location from which to create major economic growth through ICT in the transformation of the "sleepy economic village".