What is the Future of ICT4D in Cuba?

The US Government has a mixed record in using technology to help the Cuban people improve their lives. Most of its attempts ended in failure, some painful for everyone involved, others comical in their shortsightedness.
At the same, Cuba is a technology backwater. Only 9% of the population has access to mobile services, 5% has Internet access, and neither are affordable to the masses or free of censorship. Of course, open competition by mobile operators or Internet service providers is nonexistent.
However, President Obama has finally brought Cuban-American relations into the 21st Century with historic changes to the political and commercial relations between the two countries. Of specific importance to us is the liberalization of telecommunications investment and technology.


ICT equipment and services that a few short years ago would land people in prison will soon be lawful for both Americans and Cubans. In fact, Apple just took Cuba off its Restricted Countries List.
Expect an explosion of investment, innovation, and celebration across the island as mobile towers and smartphones proliferate, and the famed Cuban entrepreneurial spirit is released across digital economies.
Direct US Government development activities in ICT4D could still be suspect, or tightly controlled, yet it will not be long before other development actors start using ICT in their Cuban programs. This prompts me to ask a few interesting questions:

  • Who are the current technology leaders already innovating on the island?
  • What are they doing, expecting, and envisioning in a liberalized future?
  • Which international organizations will be the first to do ICT4D in Cuba?
  • Where will they start? What will they focus on? How will they scale?

Essentially, we are about to witness an amazing transformation. In the next few years, Cuba will move from a hermit island to the center of a connected Caribbean. Do you want to be there making it happen with an ICT4Cuba job?
Then be sure to tell us your thoughts in the comments, so we know whom to go to first for advice and action when we convene a Technology Salon on ICT in Cuba in mid-2015.