Haiti is a free market economy with low labor costs and tariff-free access to the US for many of its exports. Two-fifths of all Haitians depend on the agricultural sector, mainly small-scale subsistence farming, which remains vulnerable to damage from frequent natural disasters. Poverty, corruption, vulnerability to natural disasters, and low levels of education for much of the population represent some of the most serious impediments to Haiti’s economic growth.
The Internet penetration rate was only 12% in early 2017. The incumbent operator has developed in Haiti a reliable world-class network, made of over 6,000km of fiber optic cable, 1,550 base stations (2G & 3G), covering 93% nationwide.
In the internet market, poor fixed-line infrastructure obliged most businesses to rely on satellite and wireless technologies. However, the launch of services by Natcom in late 2011 has provided a significant boost to the sector. The company in subsequent years built three international gateways and quadrupled international connectivity. As a result broadband services are much more readily available, and Natcom has become a wholesale provider for the small number of other ISPs in the market. Nevertheless, there remain significant barriers to fixed-line broadband development, not least of which is the low income level among the majority of the population, low PC penetration and the perennial problem of equipment theft.
Currently the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, with close to 60% of the population living under the national poverty line, Haiti’s GDP growth rose to 5.5% in 2011 as the Haitian economy began recovering from the devastating January 2010 earthquake that destroyed much of its capital city, Port-au-Prince, and neighboring areas. However, growth slowed to below 2% in 2015 and 2016 as political uncertainty, drought conditions, decreasing foreign aid, and the depreciation of the national currency took a toll on investment and economic growth.
Investment in Haiti is hampered by the difficulty of doing business and weak infrastructure, including access to electricity. Haiti’s outstanding external debt was cancelled by donor countries following the 2010 earthquake, but has since risen to $2.6 billion as of December 2017, the majority of which is owed to Venezuela under the PetroCaribe program. Although the government has increased its revenue collection, it continues to rely on formal international economic assistance for fiscal sustainability, with over 20% of its annual budget coming from foreign aid or direct budget support.
National Telecom S.A serves currently over 2 million subscribers under the ‘Natcom’ brand. Natcom is a joint venture between and Télécommunications d’Haiti S.A.M (Haiti) and Viettel Global (Vietnam). Viettel is the largest telecom group in Vietnam and also listed among the top 15 largest telecom companies in the world in terms of number of customers, successfully investing in 10 countries over 3 continents, including Asia, Africa and South America. As a national operator, Natcom has been the pioneer in innovation to deliver latest technology solutions and best products to contribute to the development of the country.
(None reported as of June 2018)