Why Trinidad is one of Latin America and the Caribbean's best destinations for data centers
With data giants like Google moving into the region, Trinidad and Tobago will be attractive to investors interested in lean, energy-efficient data centers. While it shares some of Chile’s competitive advantages, Trinidad’s cost effectiveness and business-friendly policies make it one of the region’s best choices for Tier 3 or Tier 4 data center investments.
1. Low Cost of Doing Business
Energy consumes a large chunk of infrastructural costs in a data center. As an oil and gas economy, Trinidad and Tobago offers investors subsidised, reliable energy for less than US 6 cents per kilowatt-hour, one of the lowest rates in Latin America and the Caribbean.
But low energy costs is just one side of the coin. Power distribution for high-end cooling systems is the other critical component when calculating Total Cost of Ownership.
To guarantee general “maintainability,” Trinidad boosted its power generation capacity by more than 50 percent with the recent commissioning of a new combined-cycle power plant at La Brea in the south.
Utility rates are competitive; commercial broadband rates are less than US$900 monthly, with upload speeds of 3 Mbps.
Construction costs are cheaper than Chile’s at US$125 per square-foot and you also pay less for permits, compared with Costa Rica, Barbados and Colombia.
The cost of doing business here is low. It takes three days and less than $100 to register a company.
Labour costs are competitive. The country produces 400 ICT graduates annually, including network and electrical engineers, and software programmers.
In a 2013 IT labour survey, more than 50 percent of respondents had university degrees, 48 percent are between 20 to 29 years old and nearly all expect monthly wages between US$1,250 to $1,875.
As well, the tax regime is fair with a 25 percent corporate tax (35 percent for petrochemical and petroleum marketing companies).
Companies may earn corporation, land and building and work permit tax exemptions if they operate within established free zones.
Investors may also qualify for fiscal incentives including subsidies on imports of construction materials and equipment.
2. Enhanced Infrastructure
Prime “Grade A” industrial space in Trinidad is generally cheaper than other Latin American and Caribbean countries and the government is boosting capacity with new investments in real estate.
One state-of-the-art industrial park that is under construction offers investors a chance to grow in an ICT cluster environment with direct access to copper and fibre optic infrastructure.
Available lots range from 1-20 acres, each with access to specialised utilities like advanced cooling duct systems and humidity control.
The facility is close to the Piarco International airport with daily flights to the Caribbean, Latin America, North America and Europe via American Airlines, British Airways and state-owned Caribbean Airlines.
Other warehousing spaces exist for investors who prefer to be located in Port-of-Spain or central Trinidad, closer to sea ports and more commercial business districts.
Increased public sector investments in ICT infrastructure add to Trinidad and Tobago’s attractiveness. Five Miami-linked fibre optic cables provide robust support here and five broadband service providers companies provide industry comparable download/upload speeds.
Mobile penetration in Trinidad and Tobago also reached a staggering 142 percent, higher than the average rate among developed countries.
3. Business-friendly Environment
While the government is open to equity or joint-venture investments, Trinidad offers investors 100 percent ownership of privately-held businesses and ranks as one of the best destinations in the region for economic freedom.
The country has long established itself as a commercial hub with trade agreements with the US and China as well as key Latin American and EU partners.
We should recall that Latin America had the fastest growing internet population in 2011. By January 2013, its roughly 250 million internet users accounted for more than 10 percent of the global total, making it an e-commerce hotspot.
The opportunity is obvious: Trinidad and Tobago lies at the gateway to the Americas below the hurricane belt, eliminating the threat of natural disasters while providing access to lucrative markets of North, Central and South America.
Ease of doing business is one reason companies like Microsoft, and Fujitsu have already found a home in Trinidad and Tobago and are reinvesting. Other foreign investors attest to the strength of the legal and regulatory system and the stable political environment.
“We always want to ensure foreign investors have the best experience, said Manager of Investor Sourcing at invesTT Sekou Alleyne.
“And since we’ve started working to diversify our economy, data center investments have become a priority.”