Information Technology in Cuba
Analysis: Strengths and Weaknesses
In analyzing the primary features of the Cuban IT industry, a broad view of Cuba's comparative advantages and weaknesses as a global IT provider begins to emerge. The traditional Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) analysis is presented below in tabular form.
The SWOT table summarizes Cuba's advantages and disadvantages as an IT competitor in the global economy. Cuba must make dramatic improvements in many facets of its traditional and IT economy before achieving status as a major global IT player. Much of this stems from Cuba's adherence to a centrally planned economy operating under a political system that discourages capitalism. The continued lack of privatization of IT and telecommunications providers will maintain excessive prices for Internet and telecommunications services that will not make technology accessible to the Cuban citizenry. The current daily economic struggle must be addressed first and foremost before PC and telecommunication penetration can increase across the island. The Cuban population remains unenthusiastic about participating in the development of an IT economy when nearly all citizens must receive government subsidies and rations to survive.
An economy that does not provide value to intellectual property does not encourage ongoing development of software and hardware technology. The current Cuban political landscape has only recently welcomed international development programs from organizations such as the United Nations and the International Telecommunications Union. Subsequently, it lags even regional competitors in the Latin American and Caribbean basin in terms of infrastructure and IT development.
Although the Cuban government is strongly encouraging foreign investment, it remains to be seen whether global IT firms will invest in new IT manufacturing. Given the current economic struggle, the Cuban government has little resources with which to develop a leading IT economy. It must depend on attracting foreign companies to Cuba with its offer of highly educated IT professionals available at labor rates unheard of in most developing nations. Cuba may attract software development, such as off-shore programming. However, it is more likely that given the current international political sanctions, Cuba will need to transport its IT professionals abroad rather than create software development centers on the island.