Panama: The perfect place for your high-tech/software company (3)

Panama – Country Quick Facts

Located in Central America, between Costa Rica and Colombia, separated by the latter through the Darien jungle, the Republic of Panama is geographically and politically stable. There is not even an army, as there is none in neighbouring Costa Rica.

 

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Source: geology.com

 

It is most famous for the Panama Canal, connecting two oceans. Built 100 years ago, extended recently, handling 4% of global trade, making the country a logistics hub.

The Canal extension means a lot more business to be built around. Beside the 2nd largest free zone after Hongkong, in Colon, there are 2 more Special Economic Zones:

  • City of Knowledge, home of software and other hi-tech companies.
  • Panama Pacifico, for logistics, warehousing etc.   

Panama has become a preferred offshore business and finance center. Financial crisis since 2008 have had no influence in Panama, solid annual growth between 6 and 10%.

By far most ships globally are registered here. Incorporating and running offshore firms is therefore an everyday affair. Accordingly, Panama has successfully signed bi-lateral treaties to not be considered a tax haven by the OECD.  

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Source: anuvito

Panama City ’s skyline and infrastructure are impressive and GDP per capita has become #2 in Latin America ($21,800 in 2015). Middle class is growing, accumulating wealth. The country is a bit smaller than South Carolina, has a population of 3.6 mio, a coastline of 2,490 km, hundreds of islands in both oceans.

Half of the country is covered by tropical rainforest, including the Central American mountain range, reaching up to 3,475m (Volcano Baru). Thus there are several different climate zones to live in, and providing ideal conditions for tropical fruits, coffee and vegetables.

The Inter-American Highway is the backbone of the country, stretching over 775 km from the Costa Rican border until Yaviza. The Darien jungle is a natural boarder. Traffic to Colombia must use a ferry from Colon to Cartagena.

Panama City’s Tocumen International is named the “Hub of the Americas”, with numerous destinations between Montreal and Vancouver in the North, to Buenos Aires and Santiago de Chile in the South.

Conveniently, the currency is the USD, officially named as Balboa, the first European looking at the Pacific Ocean,  although there are no Balboa bills.

 

 

Imaging Panama as a hightech hotspot

It has been a while since I suggested to develop Panama as a “Second Home & Bootcamp Facility” for Silicon Valley corporations.

As time goes by and things in tech are changing as fast a never before, my views have changed as well. Having seen how other places have tried to copy the Valley unsuccessfully, this place should move up in its own way.

Coder courses, accelerators, VC firms – there is nothing that can’t be done here. What has to be created and nurtured is the mindset to go for top achievements.

Despite the Panama Papers fuss, this country still has the best conditions to establish and run a business, not to forget essential soft factors, like quality of life and vast investment opportunities. See here

Few weeks only until the Panama Canal extension goes live. Time to seek a new challenge for the country connecting North with South America, the Atlantic and the Pacific Ocean.

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Source: ACP

 

 

 

 

 

What Panama has to offer Silicon Valley companies, benefitting both

Upcoming countries, like Panama, have to figure out how to become and stay competitive in the future.

The Panama Canal with logistics, a solid financial sector, mining and tourism are already in place and growing. Starting a business is easy to do.

facebook.com/canaldepanama

facebook.com/canaldepanama

But how about high tech and a way to prepare the younger generation? Panama should seriously consider high-tech initiatives.

Of course, there is no way to copy something like the “Valley”. It has been tried already. But Panama is ideal to become a SECOND HOME & BOOTCAMP FACILITY for SV companies. And a super-affordable springboard for hightech startups anyway.

City of Knowledge, a special economic zone at the banks of the Panama Canal, only 15 minutes from downtown PanamaCity, is the right place to begin with.

City of Knowledge PTY

City of Knowledge PTY

Stay tuned how this project goes along.

Visiting 2 oceans within 2 hours

Try this from San Francisco.

In Panama it’s a piece of cake. What was planned as a roundtrip does look more like rectangular, doesn’t it?

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It’s one of not so many days during the rainy season in Panama, when Caribbean and Pacific coast are both and between available for VFR (visual flight rules). Today it is.

Our FlightDesign CTLS LSA (light sport aircraft) takes off from Chame (MP24), few miles only from the Pacific coast. Wind from South today, so it’s runway 18 on this non-towered airport. We need to coordinate with 2 SENAN (coast guard/boarder patrol) helicopters doing training.

When airborne, we turn North and contact Panama Radio. We have submitted a flight plan already as we are kind of surrounding Panana City with 3 international airports: MPTO, MPMG and MPPA.

Got our squawk code and are handed over to Panama Advisory. When reaching FL55 (5,500 ft) we are already over Lake Gatun, which is a significant part of the Panama Canal passage. Watching ships on their way and assembling on both sides of Gatun Locks. The old ones, in 24/7 operation since 100 years, and the new ones under construction, to double transit capacity from early 2016. Impressive.

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Then the city of Colon, Atlantic-side entrance of the Panama Canal and home of the second largest free zone, after Hongkong. Colon’s airport (MPEJ) is a waypoint to overfly today.

Now we are flying along the Caribbean coast of Panama, still under-developed, but not for long anymore. Clouds are building over the rainforest and we climb to 7,500 feet now. This leg, as the other ones too, is approx. 50 nautical miles long.

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Next waypoint is El Provenir, a settlement on few small islands, and even the airport is on an island. Runway is 400 m and this place cannot be reached by land. As these pictures look, it goes along the coast for another 120 km, into Colombia. Islands, palms, sand, seafood. A true natural paradise, which we will overfly the next time, but low and check out all the airstrips along the way.

Now we turn South, leaving Caribbean/Atlantic behind and climb to 9,500 ft because of clouds. It takes time for our Rotax 912 engine at this altitude and still 57F outside. New course: Las Perlas Archipelago, Pacific Ocean. And after a few minutes we can already see these islands ahead.

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Weather is perfect, the views are amazing. Landing on Isla Contadora (MPRA), out of the plane and straight into Gerald’s garden restaurant. Watching hummingbirds, enjoying super-fresh seafood, talking with our hosts. What a peaceful and relaxing atmosphere.

Now it’s high tide and the beach is only 200 meters aways. White sand, turquoise clear water to the ground. Turn on your back, close your eyes and drift for an hour.

Getting ready for the last leg. Another 50 nautical miles westward to Chame, our homebase. At 4,500 ft towards the sinking sun. A lonesome container ship is on its way to the canal, and already descending we take another picture of Punta Chame.

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Departed 10:40 from Chame, arrived 12:50 at Isla Contadora. Up again at 15:55 and arrival in Chame at 16:40 local time. Per Foreflight planning it was 204 nautical miles but we took several detours because of clouds or to slowly descend into Las Perlas. Closer to 450 km probably, burning 13.5 galons of 95 autogas. Gas for US$50, food for US$35 … total of $85 for visiting 2 oceans. Not bad, right?

Most of the journey we have been on the radio with and on the screen of Panama Advisory, coordinating our flight with some other traffic this morning. They were, as always, doing a great job, taking care in a friendly and professional way.

Gracias amigos.