Cuba signs four memoranda with Google

Google, the internet giant, has signed four memoranda of understanding intended to enable several Cuban entities ‘to take advantage of’ the Cuban content on the company’s platform.

The memoranda were signed with the University of Information Sciences, Infomed (Cuba’s health network), the Ministry of Culture, and the Office of the Historian of Havana.

President Díaz-Canel made the announcement on 3 October at the end of the first Congress of Cuba’s Information Technology Union (UIT), and revealed that the signing took place when he was in New York at the end of September to attend the UN General Assembly (Cuba Briefing October 1, 2018).

Although few further details were provided, it is likely that the agreements provide a legal framework for collaboration between the four institutions and Google.

During the period of détente with the US, Google had expressed an interest in helping expand internet access, but the proposal did not move forward at the time, apparently because of Cuban concerns about security.

In other remarks to the UIT Congress, Díaz-Canel said the role the country’s computer scientists had to play was vital to the future of the Cuban nation. The event, he said, had offered the space to discuss aspirations and dissatisfactions that exist, and “to enhance collaboration in all areas, state or otherwise”, to work together towards a common goal.

He reiterated previous remarks that computerisation is now a priority of the Cuban State in relation to e.government and e.commerce. He also told participants that as the computerisation of Cuba’s economic and social activity progresses, it will be necessary to guarantee cybersecurity. In this context he urged UIC members to develop a concerted approach to encourage the necessary national culture.

He also called on UIC members, many of whom are self-employed, to strengthen ties with universities, generate more training projects, strengthen relations with the central government agencies, and to continue developing national apps and computer solutions as a part of a “conscious migration towards free software technologies and national alternatives”.

In other remarks to the UIT Congress, María Esther Alfonso, the organisation’s First Vice President was quoted by the Cuban media as telling participants that to achieve the country’s computerisation objectives for 2019-2021, it would be necessary for the organisation to strengthen its alliances.

The UIT has more than eight thousand members. It came into being in 2015.

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