(Jamaica Observer) Government yesterday launched a US$20 million infrastructure loan facility to support growth in the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector.
The facility is being made available through the Petro Caribe Development Fund and will be administered by the Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ) in collaboration with Jampro.
Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce Dr Christopher Tufton told journalists that the financing support is aimed at developing at least 350,000 square-feet of appropriate ICT ready space to accommodate tier 1 operators in the ICT sector, which is expected to generate 10,000 new jobs locally.
“We have redoubled our efforts to increase development support to the over 26 BPO (business process outsourcing) operators in Jamaica, which we expect will shortly result in the formation of a vibrant industry association settling the platform for further growth and expansion,” said Tufton during the signing ceremony at his ministry’s office.
The infrastructure loan facility will provide a maximum loan of US$5 million per project, representing a maximum of 70 per cent of the total project cost. The loans are being made available at interest rates of 4.5 per cent per annum payable monthly up to a maximum of 12 years.
Tufton noted that the facilities constructed with the funds must be used for ICT projects for the duration of the loan. A violation of this stipulation will see borrowers penalised with an increase on the interest rate of their loan to 6.5 per cent per annum.
Among its responsibilities, Jampro will primarily screen investors interested in building ICT facilities and refer suitable applicants to the DBJ.
The DBJ will be responsible for the conduct of due diligence, credit checks and financial evaluation of the applicants referred by Jampro.
DBJ managing director Milverton Reynolds said more funding can be made available for the sector.
“We would love for these funds to be utilized as fast as possible,” he said.
The development comes against the background of an influx of investment in the local ICT space. Earlier this week, Tufton announced that a major foreign firm will invest hundreds of millions of dollars in the sector, creating 2,000 to 3,000 jobs over the next two years.
Government has set a target to facilitate the build-out of 500,000 square feet of space for the business processing industry over the next three to five years as part of its plan to more than double ICT jobs in Jamaica over that period.