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Curaçao's Regional Role in the Digital Age.

Worldwide surveys are showing that emerging markets are leading the digital age. China, the Middle East and parts of Latin America are leading the West in embracing the Internet. Online consumers in rapid growth markets have overtaken mature markets in terms of engaging with digital activities, despite the benefits of more advanced infrastructures in the developed world.

Corporations in developing markets are becoming more regionally focused. In the past we were accustomed to thinking of global economic relationships as relationships between east and west or north and south. Western companies setting up call centers and development centers in India or manufacturing their goods in China - rich emerging market economies, especially China, investing in US Treasuries or Russian oligarchs buying London mansions. In the next stage, some of the biggest deals and some of the most important capital flows are occurring between emerging markets, with no need for a stop-over at Heathrow or JFK.
Latin America and the Caribbean are being re-tooled, restructured and new information highways are being created to support new intra-region capital flow. The region has become a bright spot in the post-recession global economy, with strong growth projected for the foreseeable future. In the region, as is the case in many emerging markets, an increasing number of companies have regional roots. One of the largest public conglomerates in the Caribbean is based in Trinidad & Tobago. The fastest growing banks in Colombia have their roots locally. One of the fastest growing international trust and corporate services companies is based in Panama. Some of the savviest emerging-market champions seem to be discovering that they have more in common with each other than with their traditional trading partners in the west: they have analogous business models and states of development that are all culturally attuned to these fast growing markets.

Curaçao’s regional role

At a time when emerging market countries and companies are getting better at doing business with each other and expanding regionally, the opportunity for Curaçao to play a major role as a regional technology hub and facilitator of trade in the region is significant. As regional companies become more sophisticated in their use of technology, they are often faced with aging computing and data center processing infrastructures. These corporations similar to their counterparts in the developed world continue to push their insatiable demand for all types of structured and unstructured data. Add this to the fact that corporations increasingly need real time ‘big data’ processing and analytics and one can easily see the significant continuing demand for data centers. It’s no secret that over the past few years many corporations based in the Caribbean and Latin America had no choice but to leverage data centers in North America and Europe. But that is all changing. The world’s latest and most advanced data center is not being built in New York city or the City of London. Instead it is being built on the island of Curaçao. Hidden beaches, colorful architecture, pristine reefs, and picturesque plantations; located in the southwest corner of the Caribbean, Curaçao has it all. Historically, Curaçao has always been recognized as a major international hub, perfectly situated between the northen part of South America and Europe. The island has an experienced and professional financial services sector. Being part of the Dutch Kingdom also enables the island to be a major transshipment point between Latin America and Europe. For tourists its probably one of the best-kept secrets. But there’s more to come. Much more.
The island is gaining prominence as a regional technology hub enabling international digital commerce. The first tier-IV Uptime institute certified data center complex in the region consisting of four 57,000 square feet facilities is being built by a young and innovative company called CTEX, which stands for Curaçao Technology Exchange ( It is building the most advanced Tier-IV data center facility in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Three catalysts have converged in CTEX’s favor: growth in the Latin America emerging markets, advancements in cloud computing and an auspicious location, being outside the hurricane belt and seismic active zones.

More business, more technology needs

Business activity in Latin America has been on the rise for some time. Caribbean nations find themselves at commercial crossroads between North America, Europe, and Latin America, and are experiencing a similar business surge. Despite this growth, there continues to be a lack of high-end technology services. Companies wanting to conduct business in the region have few options for storing their data, accessing advanced technologies, and getting top-notch support.

Today, the region doesn’t have a world-class certified tier-IV data center. These facilities exist in the U.S., Canada and Europe. But many regional companies are concerned with privacy laws, strict regulations, and the high costs of reaching these far-flung data centers. Others are wary of utilizing South American data centers due to physical security and political instability.

An untapped island refuge

CTEX was formed in Curaçao not by happenstance, but through careful planning and exhaustive research. In Curaçao, CTEX found the perfect location for a tier-IV data center complex. The island is situated outside the hurricane belt and major seismic zones. And the data center is being purpose-built for 100 percent reliability. It is 197 feet above sea level, and can withstand a Category 5 hurricane and extensive seismic activity. Regional companies don’t have to worry about putting their data or technology operations in harm’s way.

Curaçao’s connectivity is also a significant benefit. Six redundant submarine cables link the island to the rest of the world, and more are currently being installed; perfect for reliable, high-speed data transmissions.

As part of the Dutch Kingdom, Curaçao offers a very friendly environment for international business. The privatization laws are favorable, the taxes are low, there are no import duties on technology equipment, and the island offers unique benefits for expatriate employees. A multicultural populace that speaks English, Spanish, Dutch, and Portuguese also makes the island an ideal location for transnational commerce.

Building a world-class data center

CTEX’s founders wanted to provide customers with the most advanced data center services out of a high end facility. Those services include secured, collocation, security management, archiving, disaster recovery, and managed services. However, the company’s commitment to delivering services to its customers goes much further. The company wanted to deliver the most secure and reliable cloud computing environment in the region. With more than a dozen standard server models, CTEX and its customers can select their operating system and configuration of choice, and the software quickly and automatically provisions the environments with a fixed or variable payment structure. Computing power is delivered as a service over the Internet, rather than customers having to make heavy capital expenditures on expensive equipment.

The company is also delivering disaster recovery services. CTEX has office space with server and desktop provisioning, a full communications suite using Cisco Unified Communications Manager, and Cisco TelePresence® capabilities allowing companies to conduct high-end videoconference sessions with over 15.000 locations worldwide.

Implications for Curaçao

The implications for Curaçao’s future are significant. As CTEX opens the first of its four datacenters this fall, Curaçao will benefit by attracting regional companies to leverage Curaçao as a major consolidation hub and/or hop off point to other countries with the region and for that matter the world. While the island previously focused on delivering offshore financial banking services, it is now also positioned to deliver a host of business process outsourcing (BPO) services to companies throughout the region by leveraging a state of the art data center and using advanced technologies.
Being multi-lingual also means that Curaçao can now build new technology based services sector including but not limited to, local content development, customer interaction services (i.e., telesales, order processing, warranty administration), knowledge management (i.e., data analytics and mining) and back office transaction processing (i.e., direct and indirect procurement, collections, check and credit card processing).

Curaçao’s greatest challenge will be to have enough skilled human resources to meet the demands of the international marketplace.

Anthony A. de Lima