The Nicaraguan computer industry has been growing by leaps and bounds and the increase is likely to continue along with the exploding economy. Nicaragua imports close to 20 million dollars each year and the figure continues to grow. A new tax law which lowered the overall tax on computer imports to 21% has also helped to spur growth in this area.
This rapid growth is due to several factors. The first is that as enterprises here begin to expand again and outside investors pour in their support, they seek to modernize their operations. Consequently, relatively new computer equipment is purchased and operations become streamlined. The second factor is the far-reaching legislation which has recently been passed which lowered tariffs, made it easier to import goods, and attempted to streamline the whole input-output process.
US producers currently have a corner on the market (95% of total sales) because of the fact that supplies can be easily brought from the United States. After the US comes Panama, Japan, Canada, Mexico, and Switzerland, in descending order according to their market share. Another factor which has kept the US portion of the market so high is that the quality is usually quite high and there are plenty of people who are familiar with the machines and can provide timely repair service, if needed. It's also quite easy for visitors from the US or Nicaraguan vacationers to bring in equipment from the US in their luggage and this accounts for about 5% of the total private consumer market. The government picks up about a quarter of the market of computers here and the general private market makes up the other 75%. The affluent general public are a major part of the private portion as well as the modernizing, up-scale businesses.
Businesses here are generally more worried about price and availability, instead of quality. Thus, don't expect to make a booming business selling top-of-the-line G3 Macintoshes. Instead, you would be more likely to profit by mass-purchasing 200 MHz Pentium or Cyrex chips and then assembling the computers yourself. There are no large retail outlets here or direct marketing, so almost the only viable option is to make an alliance with an established Nicaraguan business and market your wares through them. Be forewarned, pirating of software in Nicaragua reaches untold levels. Although not as obvious as China, where you can purchase Windows 98 for 5 bucks of a street vendor, it is still very profound. The Nicaraguan government is working on the problem, however.