IT in Cuba

Telecommunication Infrastructure

Liberalization and Deregulation

Internet Diffusion

Electronic Commerce

Hardware Manufacturing

Software Manufacturing

Who Uses IT?

IT Labor Market

IT Geographics

IT Financing

Government Policies

Legal Environment

Transborder Data Flows

Analysis: IT Strengths and Weaknesses

Analysis: Impacts on the Business

Sources and Links

About the Authors


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 Cuban population is one of the most educated amongst developing nations

Labor costs are lower than for most software developing countries

Cuba is already recognized as a leader in biotechnology

The Cuban government is fostering FDI

Inadequate domestic IT/telecommunications infrastructure

Price and availability of Internet technology and services

Government control of all Cuban marketplaces, e-commerce, and trade

Lack of IT growth in the domestic marketplace

Training/IT infrastructure based on obsolete technology

Poor IT infrastructure provides growth opportunities for wireless technologies

Market penetration of PCs in the home and businesses is very low

Internet access is provided by one provider

High piracy rates/lack of value ascribed to software development

Low financial support for the IT industry

Cuba's inability to attract foreign aid and FDI

International political sanctions

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.


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