Cuba Advances in Communications and Takes on Challenges for 2023

Cuba Advances in Communications and Takes on Challenges for 2023
Fecha de publicación: 
1 January 2023
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Year 2022 in Cuba traced the path to follow to continue strengthening the telecommunications sector in a small, underdeveloped country and strongly marked by a genocidal blockade that, from the strongest nation in the world, attempts to crush a neighboring island with important technological needs.

Despite this hostile scenario the Cuban nation has lived for more than 60 years, and which is becoming more and more intense with concrete actions aimed at hindering access to information and essential supplies, the panorama in the sector showed progress focused on digital transformation and the computerization of society.

This was confirmed by the head of the Ministry of Communications (MINCOM), Mayra Arevich Marín, during her most recent report before the National Assembly of People's Power.

Even with the external problems and the economic crisis that hinder access to essential materials for the good performance of the Ministry of Communications in our country, this year the sector shows results in terms of infrastructure and services, which, although they are not the preferred, statistics show considerable progress.

Indicators such as the growth of telephone density in fixed and mobile modalities; the increase in cellular coverage and the Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) signal, as well as the commercialization of television sets; and the expansion of Internet access, largely thanks to attractive offers and plans; clearly demonstrate the will to bring technology closer to the population.

Arevich also dedicated a section to Electronic Government and Commerce, referred to actions aimed at the digital transformation we seek, and emphasized a project that will begin jointly with the Civil Registry and the Ministry of the Interior so that citizens can carry out procedures and services.

In her balance on the digitization of society, she counted 263 portals of agencies of the Central State Administration, entities, provincial, and municipal governments; and she assured that the organization of government information in cyberspace is improving, and interaction from digital platforms is progressing.

The official of communications said that, although still in the making, non-state management bodies are also present in the digital universe, where they offer their services; and she affirmed that each time the payment using these channels are increasing.

A favorable aspect that Arevich highlighted is related to Transfermóvil and EnZona platforms, for electronic payments. According to the data collected, the growth of users who use these applications to pay debts, among other functions they offer, is evident.

In her intervention, she explained that our country is working on new exportable capacities of identified products and services; while markets are examined for other activities supported by Information and Communication Technologies (ICT).

The minister also referred to the difficulties with the pre-assignment of students for professional practices and social service; and she expressed concern about the need to increase cybersecurity content in the study plans.

Last October was an important stage for the ministry, was, when the Cuban nation, especially the West, was severely affected after Hurricane Ian hit the island. However, experts from all over the country joined efforts to restore the damaged services.

Regarding how essential access to information is, let’s remember an event of this same year, when Joe Biden’s administration, in the United States, declared that it would support access to Internet, applications and e-commerce platforms of that country in Cuba; However, so far, not only has it not complied, but the Department of Justice of the North American nation recently recommended that the Federal Communications Commission deny a permit to install what would have been the first submarine cable that would connect both territories.

In this sense, an issue to follow closely in 2023 is the technological operation called "Arimao", agreed and ongoing in compliance between the Cuban Telecommunication Company S.A. (ETECSA) and the French telecommunications company Orange S.A, to deploy a submarine fiber optic cable between the island of Martinique and Cienfuegos.

In accordance with what was stated regarding the Tenth Ordinary Period of Sessions of the IX Legislature, the challenges of the sector for the future are aimed at the development of telecommunications infrastructure, raising levels of cybersecurity, and increasing the use of renewable energies.

Looking at the new year, among the main priorities of the organization Arevich represents, she stressed moving forward with the pending telephone transfers; solve coverage and quality problems in mobile services; solve the lack of cash for the delivery of money orders; find a solution to the insufficient sale of decoder boxes for digital television; work so that newspapers get to their destination on time; in addition to improving the quality of analog television signal that’s still in use.

As reported by the Cuban minister, it’s essential to continue promoting the digital transformation of society; diversify exports; as well as raising the organization and economic contribution of the business sector to achieve a more effective natural relationship with non-state forms of management.

E-commerce stands out as highly valuable for the advancement of Cuban society, for this reason, Arevich acknowledges difficulties to be solved, related to issues such as digital inventories, warehouse organization, distribution, and platforms, among others.

In 2023, the computer applications and services industry will also prioritize working more to strengthen the computerization of society in a safe manner, which implies monitoring and improving technological conditions. Likewise, among the most important objectives for the sector, it stands out to specify alliances with other sectors. And regarding the technological sovereignty policy promoted by Cuban telecommunications, Arevich highlighted as positive that the ministry is close to consolidating a free software certification system, with international recognition.

In bold strokes, with this path to follow, we hope year 2023 will be a year of hard work and tangible results. Efforts will be made to respond with resilience, science, and innovation to the challenges imposed by the unfair blockade of the United States on Cuba, as well as others that depend more on human capital, such as raising the demand to be more efficient in the services offered by the different entities that represent MINCOM. It is also essential to promote communication processes so that, together, we can build the inclusive digital society we seek.

Translated by Amilkal Labañino / CubaSí Translation Staff

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