Antigua and Barbuda –“A Center of Technological Excellence, Quality English Speaking Talent, Competitive Costs and a Compelling Lifestyle.”
Antigua & Barbuda places a high priority on ICT as an important enabler for national development. As a consequence, the country has experienced rapid growth in its ICT sector, driven by major public and private sector investment. Antigua & Barbuda now has a modern telecommunications infrastructure. This has facilitated fast growth in broadband internet and data and voice services that are so vital for modern information-intensive businesses.
Antigua & Barbuda has demonstrated immense commitment to making the country the most well connected island in telecommunications in the Eastern Caribbean and has articulated a policy of transforming Antigua & Barbuda into a knowledge-based society. Information Technology-enabled Services/Business Process Outsourcing (ITeS/BPO) operations are consistent with the aim of increasing employment and revenue flows attributable to the ICT sector, a main objective of the ICT Policy.
Antigua & Barbuda is well on its way to becoming a digital economy with high levels of internet and telephone connectivity. The country has two underwater fibre optic cables with landing points for the East Caribbean Fibre System (ECFS) and the Global Caribbean Network (GCN) submarine cable systems. The GCN has links to other islands in the eastern Caribbean extending from the British Virgin Islands to Trinidad and goes onward to the Global Crossings Network, thereby providing connection to other continents. The country is also equipped with satellite earth stations.
Geographically, Antigua & Barbuda, with its close proximity to the United States, is a natural near-shore location for the massive US market – the fastest growth segment of the global ITeS/BPO outsourcing industry. In recent times there has been an increasing trend from off-shoring to near-shoring, especially for voice related outsourcing.An important driver for the near-shore shift in the ITeS/BPO sector is to improve the quality of customer service – typically with the use of native speakers. Antigua & Barbuda, with its English Language capability and neutral accent meets this fundamental criterion.
In addition to its geographic proximity to the US and its language capability, Antigua & Barbuda can also offer investors in this sector a number of further benefits:
- Cultural affinity to the USA and the UK which together account for 80% of the English-speaking outsourcing market
- Good air connectivity with the USA and UK
- Time zone similarity to the USA, the largest user of outsourcing services worldwide estimated at 70% of market demand
- High literacy rate of 98 % (UNDP 2013)
- The country’s post secondary educational institutions offer a range of courses in technology, business and customer service related disciplines
- A network of colleges, as well as accreditation and certification bodies, ensures that skills quality meets world standards
- Strategically situated in the eastern Caribbean, within sight of several neighbouring islands who are also members of OECS with easy access to a combined labour pool of over 600,000 people
- 6th in the category of ‘Caribbean and Central American Country of the future’ in the 2011/12 survey of FDI attractiveness of LAC countries by the Financial Times, 2nd for ‘Best Infrastructure’ and 8th for ‘Best Human Resources’.
- 8th of 32 countries in the LAC region, in the 2014 World Bank Doing Business Report with rankings of 3rd and 5th respectively for enforcing contracts and protecting investors
- Welcoming, strong customer-service culture resulting from the country’s long history as a premium tourism destination
- Good availability of ‘ready-to-occupy’ office space suitable for the ITeS/BPO sector
- Good quality of life
Given the nature and experience of Antigua & Barbuda’s workforce, the areas within Business Process Outsourcing that the country can best support new investment are considered to be:
- Contact Centre Services in Credit and Debit Card Services
- Insurance Claim Processing
- Back Office Shared Services such as Finance and Accounting Services
- Patient Adherence
- Technical Customer Support
- Financial Sector Compliance Services
- Knowledge Process Outsourcing (KPO) in the areas of Finance and Accounting, Asset Management and Payroll Processing.