WILLEMSTAD, Curaçao. – Commercial space travel could come to Curacao as early as 2014.
Curacao Airport Holding Managing Director Maurice Adriaens announced the projected launch date for the ambitious project, during his presentation at the Caribbean ICT Roadshow, which took place at the Curacao World Trade Centre from September 9 to 10.
The island of Curacao is tipped to host SXC’s second launchpad, the first being located in an Air and Space Port in the Mojave desert, USA. Spaceflight participants will be launched from the Curacao spaceport into suborbital space above the surface of the Earth and then safely looped back to Earth, according to an online promotional video on the Space Expedition Corporation (SXC) official website.
Addressing a multi-stakeholder audience on the second day of the Roadshow, Adriaens’ presentation highlighted the downstream economic benefits that would flow from the development of an indigenous commercial human spaceflight industry. The prospect of transitioning the island’s economy from traditional tourism to space tourism generated great interest in the room and amongst the foreigners represented at the regional gathering.
“It’s a good dream, isn’t it?” he asked. “So…who wants to be a Curanaut?”
Adriaens was among a number of local and international presenters from a range of backgrounds demonstrated the potential of ICT to impact e-Health, e-Learning, e-Commerce, cyber security, telecommunication, and youth. The spaceflight presentation was part of the CTU’s emphasis on technological innovation as an engine for Caribbean development.
Organised by the Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU), the Caribbean ICT Roadshow is now into its third year, having visited 17 countries across the region. According to CTU Secretary General Bernadette Lewis, the programme is “designed to foster a spirit of innovation in the adoption of ICT-based practical solutions to development challenges”.
The third day of the event was dedicated to the 9th Caribbean Internet Governance Forum (CIGF), which brought stakeholders from Latin America and the Caribbean together to engage discuss and develop policies and structures for regional Internet governance. The CIGF is organised by the CTU at the request of the CARICOM Secretariat.
“Because of the Internet’s phenomenal and rapid growth, a coordinated approach to regional Internet Governance has become a fundamental priority,” Lewis said in her introductory remarks.
“We must take an active part in shaping its growth and development to ensure that our rights are respected and our security assured even as the Internet grows. We must do our part to ensure that the citizens of the Caribbean have affordable access to the Internet and are able to use it safely to solve real-world problems.”
The CIGF facilitates the CTU’s multi-stakeholder approach to the development of regional IG policy, drawing on the expertise and experiences of policy makers, regulators, service providers, content providers, consumer groups, academia, professionals, end users and other Internet interest groups in the region.
The diversity of the range of interests gathered under the CIGF umbrella was evident. In one panel discussion on the Internet Economy, Bevil Wooding, Internet Strategist with U.S.-based non-profit Packet Clearing House, led a panel discussion with Nico Scheper, Business Develoment Manager for the Amsterdam Internet Exchange in the Caribbean (AMS-IX Caribbean), Craig Nesty, Executive Director of Dominica’s National Telecommunications Regulatory Commission, and Kurleigh Prescod, Columbus Communications’ Vice President of Network Services for the southern Caribbean.
“Many Caribbean Internet stakeholders are unaware of the work of the organisations that administrate the Internet and its resources. The CIGF highlights opportunities for Caribbean stakeholders to contribute collaboratively to the environment in which important decisions are made about critical Internet infrastructure,” Wooding said.
Both the Roadshow and the CIGF were coordinated by the Curaçao Bureau of Telecommunications and Post, and sponsored in part by regional telecommunications company, Columbus International.