Jamaica’s economy has grown on average less than 1% a year for the last three decades and many impediments remain to growth, including a bloated public sector which crowds out spending on important projects; high levels of crime and corruption, and a high debt-to-GDP ratio.
The Internet penetration rate was 56% in early 2017. The 1999 agreement to open the market for telecommunications services resulted in rapid growth in mobile-cellular telephone usage while the number of fixed lines in use has declined; combined fixed-line and mobile cellular teledensity exceeds 120 per 100 persons. The Fibralink submarine cable network provides enhanced delivery of business and broadband traffic and is linked to the Americas Region Caribbean Ring System (ARCOS-1) submarine cable in the Dominican Republic; the link to ARCOS-1 provides seamless connectivity to US, parts of the Caribbean, Central America, and South America.
Jamaica’s telecom sector is largely propped up by the maturing mobile sector. The merger between Digicel and Claro’s Jamaican business in 2012 strengthened Digicel’s dominance of the sector. Both Digicel and is only rival, Flow (supported by its new owner Liberty Global), have extended their 3G network across the island and have also invested in developing their LTE services. This progress has considerably improved access to broadband services, with mobile internet accounting for the vast majority of internet access. The regulator has endeavoured to develop the MVNO sector in a bid to improve competition.
The Jamaican economy is heavily dependent on services, which accounts for more than 70% of GDP. The country derives most of its foreign exchange from tourism, remittances, and bauxite/alumina. Earnings from remittances and tourism each account for 14% and 20% of GDP, while bauxite/alumina exports have declined to less than 5% of GDP.
Economic growth reached 1.6% in 2016, but declined to 0.9% in 2017 after intense rainfall, demonstrating the vulnerability of the economy to weather-related events. The current administration therefore faces the difficult prospect of maintaining fiscal discipline to reduce the debt load while simultaneously implementing growth inducing policies and attacking a serious crime problem. High unemployment exacerbates the crime problem, including gang violence fueled by advanced fee fraud (lottery scamming) and the drug trade.
LIME, an acronym for ‘Landline, Internet, Mobile, Entertainment’, was a communications provider owned by the British based Cable & Wireless Communications for its operations in Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda, Barbados, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, Montserrat, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent & the Grenadines and Turks & Caicos in the Caribbean. The company formed from the integrated businesses of Cable & Wireless in the Caribbean which adopted the LIME name on 3 November 2008. LIME operates as the native incumbent telecommunications service providers in many of the islands where they reside.
(None reported as of June 2018)