by Yosley Carrero
HAVANA, Oct. 28 (Xinhua) -- Collaboration with China in the fields of computerization and cybersecurity has strategic importance to Cuba, a high ranking official has said.
"We reaffirm the profound links that unite Cuba and China, in the context of the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries," Wilfredo Gonzalez, Cuba's first deputy minister of communications, told Xinhua in a recent interview.
Bilateral collaboration in the field of communications has gained major prominence against rising unilateralism worldwide, according to the official.
The two countries increased collaboration in telecommunications after signing a memorandum of understanding in July 2014.
As a result, Cuban human resources in this field have received training in China, and cooperation between Chinese tech companies and their Cuban counterparts has increased over the past few years.
In December 2019, the two countries held the first China-Cuba Internet Forum in Havana, hosted by the Cyberspace Administration of China and the Cuban Ministry of Communications, to share experiences in internet governance, network management, among other topics.
Cuba is expected to continue strengthening participation in the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative, said Gonzalez, noting the importance of China's Digital Silk Road as a multilateral platform for promoting the development of the participating countries.
China has participated with infrastructure and technical assistance in the process of computerization of the Cuban society, by which "the Cuban government promotes the creation and use of digital platforms to facilitate the participation of people in society," he continued.
Telecommunications infrastructure has steadily grown, facilitating the increase of mobile network coverage on the island to around 60 percent, according to Gonzalez.
"Public Wifi hotspots and mobile internet service with access to 4G platforms have increased chances for people to go online across the country," he said.
Cuba also became the first country in Latin America and the Caribbean to adopt China's terrestrial digital TV broadcasts after nearly 45,000 converter boxes were distributed among Havana households in 2013 following a Chinese government donation.
"Digital TV in Cuba has also registered significant progress, reaching 76.2 percent in population coverage in standard definition and 45.7 percent in high definition," he said.
As regards the COVID-19 pandemic, Cuba has promoted "the use of big data tools, mathematic models to monitor the spread of the virus nationwide, and the use of digital platforms linked to diagnosis, management, surveillance, prevention and control of the disease," Gonzalez noted.
Although the Cuban communications sector lost more than 64 million U.S. dollars between April 2019 and March 2020 due to the U.S. blockade against the island, its workers have helped the country maintain the vitality of essential services during the health emergency, he added.
So far, Cuban experts have developed software products such as Transfermovil, EnZona, and Ecured, in addition to significant steps taken to increase cybersecurity of public administration, economy and services nationwide. Enditem