Thesis: Cuba is doing the right thing by opening up their country and internet and encouraging increased freedom.
With the recent announcement that the Cold War enemies have finally ended the détente in December, Cuba is ripe for new world technologies and innovations. Companies are waiting to move into Cuba and try to help their people move into the modern world that they have been shielded from for decades. This is an opportunity for companies to not only make a profit, but also to help the people of Cuba realize a better life.
One of the industries most ready for innovation is the internet and technology. As the Wall Street Journal reported, “Going online at designated cyber centers and hotels is unreliable and slow. At around $5 an hour, it’s too costly for Cubans, who on average earn $20 a month, according to government statistics.” This is attempting to be solved by “The so-called Code for Cuba ‘hackathon,’ organized by Miami-based nonprofit groups Roots of Hope, aims to attract U.S. engineers, software developers and entrepreneurs to work on increasing access to information as the Caribbean country begins flirting with freer telecommunications.” This organization aims to bring the innovative, entrepreneurial environment of the United States, to Cuba which has been hidden in the dark of the internet for years.
One of the first companies who have taken advantage of this opportunity in Cuba is Airbnb. They recently just opened up their services to be offered in Cuba as well. As reported in the US News, ““Licensed U.S. travelers will now be able to experience the unique culture and warm hospitality that makes the island so special through our new Cuban community,” Airbnb co-founder Nathan Blecharczyk said.” This will boost tourism to the country as “Demand for travel to Cuba is growing despite these obstacles, as Airbnb “saw a 70 percent spike in searches from U.S. users for listings in Cuba,” says Cristina Calzadilla of DKC Public Relations, which represents Airbnb.
This combination of increased tourism and travel to Cuba, with the increased freedom and innovation should help lift Cuba out of the economic turmoil they have been in since the Cold War. This offers good signs as “U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raúl Castro are expected to meet this weekend in Panama at the Summit of the Americas, Cuba’s first time attending the hemispheric gathering.” These all point to positive signs that Cuba is finally opening up their economy to the world. If Cuba is to reach its ambitious goals of having 60% of it’s 11 million inhabitants using the internet by 2020, they will need as much help as they can get, especially from the U.S.