Nowadays, it is almost impossible to imagine a world without the Internet or without mobile phones. Information and communication technologies (ICT) open the doors to a unique world of knowledge and new types of social interaction.
They have a wide potential to democratize access to knowledge and information, as well as promote sustainable development. However, they exist in a scenario of great challenges, where not all countries have the same resources to have adequate infrastructure for their use or necessary preparation.
That is why the United Nations and other organizations, such as the Group of 77 and China, promote cooperation in this regard. For example, overcoming the digital divide is essential if we want to advance the use of science and technology for the benefit of people. Vaccines wouldn’t be the same if we didn’t all have access to the latest scientific research.
More than a technological instrument, ICTs should be seen as an opportunity to find solutions to pursue sustainable development, such as improving education, citizen participation, and governance. Such is the case of teleworking, distance education, the new use of artificial intelligence, electronic commerce, and government, which would not be possible without the digital transformation of society.
In recent years, Cuba has been slowly developing in terms of computers and connectivity. About fifteen years ago, the Internet was only available mostly in work and educational centers, but its access has expanded. First in 2013 were navigation rooms, then Wi-Fi parks, and finally, at the end of 2018, services such as mobile data and later home navigation, which have been done despite the costs and infrastructure problems of accessing the internet across the country.
Today, 70% of Cubans connect to the Internet through some means, although the most commonly used is mobile data, according to the Minister of Communications, Mayra Arevich Marín.
Therefore, it is not surprising that in the Digital Report 2023 about global digital and social media trends, presented annually by We Are Social and Hootsuite, it appears that 59.7% of Cubans, or about 6.69 million, are users of social networks.
But it’s not just the connection; it’s also what we can do with it. Hence the importance of educating people about the correct use of ICT, with its advantages and disadvantages.
Regarding this, the professor of the Faculty of Communication in Havana, Dr. Luis Alain de la Noval Bautista, told us about the social networks themselves: these spaces must be used in an articulated and integrated way with other communication tools such as public relations, institutional communication, political communication, community communication, and so on.
“Furthermore, the challenge is not only the level of access but also the ethical and political use we make of them, where the conceptualization, implementation, and evaluation of programs, projects, and strategies in digital, media, information, and communication education are involved,”, he emphasized.
The implementation of ICT in society must be accompanied by a change in mentality that helps to computerize the processes and take advantage of them. Technology, if used well, can make everyday life and even decision-making easier in a country.
For example, the good management of digitized databases and the use of computer systems will greatly help the strategies of the Cuban government to deal with COVID-19 because this information allows the analysis of the epidemiological situation and the taking of measures.
Currently, information and communication technologies have the potential to provide new solutions to development problems in various fields such as science, economics, health, climate change, and economics.