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A Caribbean telecom leader

Interview - August 16, 2012
United World meets with Rosario Sang, President of Cámara TIC, the Dominican Chamber of ICT, to discuss the current situation of information and communication technologies in the island nation
Where is the Dominican Republic heading since its current growth is of 5,3% GDP and Fitch ratings have stated its economy at B+?

Dominican Republic has a population of 10 million people who want to work, who want to have opportunities to help with the growth of their country therefore the unemployment rate must be reduced. There are many sectors helping in this boost of the economy such as telecommunications, were there are 17 companies in the country, 10 of them active, including nearly all of the most important telephone companies in the world. All of the projections of growth go in line with the virtualization of the companies, the big players are investing huge amounts of capital in this sector, therefore macroeconomic stability and the necessary infrastructure is needed. Dominican Republic has many challenges, continuing its growth and the repayment of the debt – the elected President has said this country is open to investment, open to companies that want to come to the country and create more growth. Dominicans have many talents, and there being so many small companies (from 1 to 5 people) they need to be specifically addressed, President Medina has stated that in his government he will have a special policy towards them. It’s like in Taiwan, every small company accounts for a part of the whole, making their economy a huge success.

In the current booming economical situation please describe the role of the telecommunications sector.

President Leonel Fernández did a magnificent job in getting Dominican Republic to the world, he went to many international public events and fairs, as did his ministers, and they made the country known to the world. We are on an island but that doesn’t mean we are apart from the world or isolated; we want and need to be part of this globalized world we live in. The DR-CAFTA was a very important step taken into the integration of the country in the region, in the Caribbean, which is our first ambition and then in the world.
There are still things that need to be done: the Internet access has to be generalized, there is a big gap between the urban and the rural areas and there needs to be an important step taken by the public and the private sector to make this happen. There are many opportunities to create specialized clusters of telecommunications and to improve our competitiveness in this area.

Competitiveness, innovation and technology are the mottos of the Chamber; please describe its specific roles.

This Chamber was created from a compromise the Camara de Comercio y Producción de Santo Domingo (Chamber of Commerce and Production of Santo Domingo, the oldest chamber in the continent with more than 100 years of history) had acquired with some European Institutions that help this country. Actually the original idea was to be the base of the region, for all the Caribbean, but due to the different legislations, cultures and languages this could not be achieved. This Chamber in its first period had the objective of organizing the association and in this second period I was chosen as President. There are many interesting ideas for this second period and we will launch and announce our program at the end of August.
This Chamber can be very important because in our Board of Directors we have representatives of all the subsectors: we have the Asociación Dominicana de Telefónicas; Prodetel (Professionals of Telecommunications); Asociación Nacional de Empresas de Comunicación; a very important lawyer specialized in Intellectual Property Law; and an officer of the Instituto Tecnológico de Santo Domingo to help train specialists and representatives of the software industry – one of the most to-be developed upcoming industries in the country. Being this multidisciplinary helps us to understand every aspect of the sector.

Please comment on the importance of innovation and how the Chamber addresses the small companies specifically.

We have several measures addressed specially to them. One of them is of course Internet access, which is necessary and basic for these people to integrate in the commercial world of today, basically in the rural areas. This measure is being studied and is to be done through either the Cloud or another terminal in order to ensure these companies have all of their inventory and accounting in a very cheap and organized way. This way they would have a shared platform with very affordable services. As well, we are launching a specialized employment agency that wants to integrate all of the professionals of the sector, from the technicians to the PhDs. This could help foreign companies that want to establish in Dominican Republic to have trained and qualified professionals and at the same time offer the latter jobs without having to migrate to other countries. This challenge must be faced along with the public sector; it is vital to join efforts.

And what about the importance of foreign direct investment in the sector?

It is very obvious to everyone living in this country. We have the very best international players such as Orange, Claro, Viva or Tricom, among others, which describe very well how appealing this sector is for telecommunication moguls. We have more than 60 television channels as well as numerous radio stations. For the size of this country we are a leader in this area and we intend to improve even more.

The USA are leaders in innovation, research & development, technology and every aspect related to the development of the telecommunications and the information industry. Please relate advantages of furthering this alliance.

One of the sectors which could benefit very strongly would be the creation of contact centers or BPO’s – indeed it could increase employment and the technicality of Dominicans. Nevertheless we need to address the problem of the English language, it is seen already by the new authorities as a priority for the country. We have to take advantage of the amazing geographical situation we have and exploit as much as we can this historic relation that was organized in the CAFTA-DR.

You have been in the private sector for many years as a very prominent business figure and now you are the President of the Chamber. Please describe the differences in both roles.

I am very proud and thankful of being named President of the Chamber at a time when we are involved in really demanding objectives, working with the Government and the health system. It is an honor for me. I was one of the first women to start in electronics and as I realized every object was going to be computerized I jumped to another sector. All computers need their veins to work properly, and those veins are the systems of networks. My company DataRed was founded 11 years ago and has been the leader for some time now of the industry. We are waiting for the new authorities to take charge and to continue the communications with them of the importance of training in this sector, access and the positive way of using the Internet.