Cyber cafes of Port-au-Prince
Dumas Maçon and I reported on Port-au-Prince cyber cafes for Haiti Rewired. The cafes are ubiquitous in Port-au-Prince and a relatively cheap way to use the internet for an hour or two. But given decreasing costs of internet access and growing investment in infrastructure, they may get creatively destroyed in coming years, or at least have to transition into something more like business centers:
The cost of internet access has fallen rapidly in just the last six months and will continue to fall once Digicel completes an ongoing $16 million project to lay a 200-kilometer-long undersea fiber optic cable to connect Haiti to 21 other Caribbean countries and the U.S. Much of Haiti’s traffic is routed through the Dominican Republic’s internet backbone, although an existing cable does connect the country to the Bahamas and eventually to South Florida.
Laguerre, owner of Willio’s, laments that his business is hardly profitable, mostly thanks to high electricity costs. He’s considering giving up the cyber cafe business and selling mobile phones instead.
“Right now,” says Bayard, the CEO from Access Haiti, “cost is coming down—cost of access, cost of internet, cost of hardware for access, laptops or tablets—and coming down so drastically.” Consequently, more users are able to afford connections like those provided via 3G or 4G USB sticks, which cost $30-$40. That price is still prohibitive for Haiti’s poorest—as is the price of visiting a cyber cafe. But there’s a noticeable and burgeoning market for internet services, especially in Port-au-Prince.
Read the entire thing here.
Photo by Dumas Maçon