Cuba holds business forum on foreign investment: Moves towards electronic payments

Cuba recently held a business forum comprising national and foreign business people to promote foreign investment, part of the national development strategy.

The business forum is expected to develop four panels on foreign capital investment in Cuba which the government announced will protect all entrepreneurs who have interests in the island from threats by the application of the Helms-Burton law, which codifies the economic, commercial and financial blockade of the United States.

The Cuban Chamber of Commerce organised the event and co-sponsored by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean and the European Commission.

Rodrigo Malmierca, minister of foreign trade and investment, noted that, the partnership with the European Commission is developed within the framework of the bilateral political dialogue and co-operation agreement, and prioritises sectors such as renewable energy and food security.

Meantime, the Cuban banking system is moving towards electronic payments, highlighted the increase in the number of magnetic cards issued up to May of this year, which exceeds five million; with a growth of nearly half a million units since 2018.

“In keeping with the country’s policy of computerising itself in favour of the progress of the national economy and the welfare of the people, the Cuban banking system encourages the development of computer infrastructure and easy-to-use services that are beneficial to all, Alberto Quiñones Betancourt, director general of informatics services of the Central Bank of Cuba (BCC), said.

Regarding the behaviour of the electronic payment channels in the first months of 2019 (telephone, remote and mobile banking), Quiñones Betancourt said, “the use of mobile banking grew more than seven times with respect to the same period of the previous year, for 830 thousand payment operations.”

With 67,000 transactions, remote banking grew 37 percent compared to 2018, while telephone banking decreases by nine percentage units.

Digitisation lowers the costs of banking activity in the country, favours organisation and internal control while providing users with different options to optimise their time and facilitate the management, Quiñones Betancourt said.

“Among the services that are working to add to mobile banking in 2019 is the recharge of the Nauta account, as well as electronic commerce and payments with the CIMEX Corporation,” he added.

On the other hand, the current challenges are focused on promoting the use of digital payment channels, including the [so-called] Point of Sale Terminals (POS), which reduces the use of cash.

Regarding cybersecurity, he stated that it is one of the main concerns of the Central Bank of Cuba, which is why it works together with national software development companies so that each service is not only efficient but safe for users and banking institutions.

  • Published in Cuba

Cuban Business Delegation Carries Out Working Visit to Italy

A business delegation led by Orlando Hernandez, President of the Chamber of Commerce of Cuba, on Monday began a visit to Italy, framed in both countries'' interest to expand and deepen their bilateral relations.

The Cuban delegation is also composed of Juan Gonzalez, President of Cuba Ron Corporation and the Cuba-Italy Business Committee (CICI), and Isaac Hernandez, Director of Foreign Debt of the Central Bank of Cuba.

The delegation also includes representatives of the Ministry of Tourism, QUIMI SA company of the Ministry of Industry, Gaviota Group, Melfi Marine S.A., the Agricultural Business Group and APICUBA.

According to the information provided by the Cuban embassy in Italy, the main goal of the visit will be to participate in the 7th session of CICI, to be held on Tuesday in Padua Congress Center.

Participants in this meeting will discuss on investment and business opportunities in Cuba, based on the priorities and potentialities of both countries, and it is expected that a development plan is also approved for the positioning of joint projects in the Latin American and Caribbean region.

The program of the visit, jointly hosted by the Cuban embassy in Rome and CICI, also provides for exchanges with Italian unions and institutions in the economic, commercial and financial sectors.

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ETECSA Keystone of Computerization in Cuba

The Cuban television show Mesa Redonda, specialized in debates and opinion trends, was recently dedicated to “The Roads of Computerization in Cuba”. Several officials and experts from the Ministry of Computing and Telecommunications in Cuba participated among them was the First Vice Minister, Wilfredo Gonzalez.

In her intervention at the show, Tania Velázquez, Vice-president of ETECSA, reminded the important role of the Cuban telecommunications company in the computerization process, not only with the infrastructure but with the facilitation of services, she pointed out.

She offered a wide report on the achievements in the increase, diversification, and accessibility of these services since the beginning in year 2000 of the Internet access with the prioritized sectors and the boost three years later with the Internet Rooms.

Further on the process of widening the services she specified that in 2013 rates in Internet Rooms was 4.50 CUC per hour, and 0.60 cents for domestic navigation.

For year 2014 access via cell phones to Nauta Mail was introduced thus broadening the reach to more Cubans. That year did not only saw the widening of services to the population, but a drop in the tariff to 70% on the managerial sector because prices were an obstacle for those first steps, she quoted.

She referred that the Nauta mail offered to Cuban citizens in their cell phones at 1 CUC per hour had an important acceptance.

In 2015, ETECSA took an important step with the widening of Wi-Fi spots to wireless Wi-Fi areas, bringing them closer to the neighborhoods. "And when those wireless areas were opened we went from 4.50 CUC per hour to 2 CUC per hour, and the demand went up. Users not only found connections closer, but they also saw well a significant discount".

The vice-president remembered how 2016 was not only particular for continuing with the strategy of diversifying services enlarging Internet rooms and Wi-Fi spots, but also because in that year was ran the pilot test to begin the Nauta Hogar services and were applied tariff discounts up to 1.50 CUC per hour.

The following year the Nauta Hogar offer was broaden and discounts were applied to navigation tariffs, in this case international navigation while it continued the promotion to access to domestic contents.

Year 2018 brought along as important landmark, said Velázquez, the opening of Internet service in cell phones, and also in that year took place a special offer for rural towns in the case of Nauta Hogar.

  

She highlighted that Internet in cell phones was really one of the things that has boosted connectivity in the last few months. “We agree, she added, that people appreciate that it can be cheaper, but in these six months we have had an important use of that service."

The ETECSA official also mentioned the introduction of the 4G technology that not only improves the quality of Internet connection but it also provides a greater level of capacity. In this regard she mentioned that there is already a large number of BTS (Base Transceiver Station) that will continue to increase at some important places like tourist resorts, and economic social sites in general.

She mentioned that in this year the new tariff discount for the corporate sector: a cut down of almost the 50% of all connectivity tariffs, which also accompanies the process of computerization of society.

In her speech she highlighted that "We have already reach 5,5 million mobile lines in Cuba; 2,5 millions of them have data mobile access".

Along with Internet access in mobiles other navigation forms have expanded: by the end of this first semester we will also have a hundred new navigation areas between wired and wireless connections that add up to 1 427 Wi-Fi areas, including those in the neighborhoods, and those on hotels and institutions.

There are at present more than two million Nauta accounts and she expressed that there are more than 87 thousand houses connected by Nauta Hogar. This figure will increase with 40 thousand new Nauta Hogar services this year. Also in companies and institutions connections were increased in about 2 500 for a total of 42 000 connections in the entire managerial system.

As for the topic of mobile access, the vice-president commented that they are working some indicators that allow them a feedback regarding the quality of the service. This allows, she added, to monitor when to make tariff discounts and where to increase BTS, among other actions.

This year 3G BTS have increased in more than 400 and more than sixty 4G BTS. The coverage done so far is substantial in both the population and the territories, but it isn’t enough, she said.

By the end of this first semester nearly 2,5 millions Cubans will have Internet access from their mobiles.

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Russian warships head to Cuba for official visit

A flotilla comprising Russia's most modern warship and its escorts will on Monday arrive at the Havana port for an official visit, said Cuban Ministry of the Revolutionary Armed Forces on Sunday.

One of Russia's newest warships, the Project 22350 missile frigate Admiral Gorshkov, heads the naval group.

"During their stay in our country, the Russian sailors will carry out a program of activities that includes courtesy visits to the chief of the Revolutionary Navy, as well as touring places of historical and cultural interest," said the official daily Juventud Rebelde.

The Northern Fleet's naval group departed from the port of Severomorsk for its long-distance voyage on Feb. 26, according to Russian media.

Its journey included stops in Djibouti and Sri Lanka before visiting China, where Admiral Gorshkov took part in a major naval parade, marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese People's Liberation Army Navy.

Admiral Gorshkov entered service in July 2018 and is one of the first to carry Russia's Poliment-Redut air defense system, which consists of the Poliment phased array radar and the Redut surface-to-air missile system, a navalized version of the ground-based S-350.

  • Published in Cuba

Azur Air Ukraine to launch flights to Cuba in autumn

The Ukrainian airline Azur Air Ukraine plans to launch flights to the Cuban resort town of Varadero from October 2019.

"Azur Air Ukraine CEO Karen Antonov announced the launch of flights to the resort town of Varadero in Cuba, together with the tour operator ANEX Tour," reads the statement on avianews.com.

According to the booking system of the tour operator, flights will be performed from Kyiv once in 10 days starting from October 25, 2019 till April 10, 2020.

At present, there are no direct flights between Ukraine and Cuba. Ukrainians can get to the Island of Freedom using a transfer flight.

  • Published in Cuba

Cuba: Computerizing in a Cybersecurity Environment

At the recent “Mesa Redonda” (Round Table), weekly television opinion and debate show dedicated this time to the subject of the “Roads of Computerization in Cuba”, Miguel Gutiérrez, Director of Information Technology of the Ministry of Communications, stressed the importance of replacing foreign-made applications by homemade ones.

“This measure eliminates imports for license payments and mobilizes our productive forces,” he said. The expert also referred to the protection of the personal data of Cuban Internet users.

He reiterated that steps are being taken in that extent to elaborate a norm –process led by the Ministry of Justice with the participation of other entities, and pointed out that the current juncture in the country allows to see this issue more comprehensively.

Gutiérrez dug deeper into future cybersecurity-related actions to provide the population with the necessary tools in that order.

“We should continue our efforts to increase cybersecurity culture in the population, in all workers, in all leaders. Everybody should have that culture”, he said.

In his speech, Gutiérrez also approached certain phenomena spread today that are linked, among others, to the dissemination of fake news and banal contents.

He explained that such a situation has an international scope, but several countries are already taking steps to reduce the proliferation of those contents.

He informed that in Cuba “We are also assessing how to act on that dangerous phenomenon.”

He specified that “It is not normal to consider ordinary that people access harmful contents that do not correspond with the aspirations of our society.”

The official announced that the entity is working to promote that people behave ethical and respectfully in the cyberspace, as they do in the real world. As for those who conceal or forge their identity in the cyberspace, he urged them to be authentic and maskless because that prevents our identity from being forged.

“They are matters to continue stressing to prevent the cyberspace from becoming something that is not in keeping with what we want to promote.”

Translated by Jorge Mesa Benjamin / CubaSi Translation Staff

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Cuba seeks to surpass Toronto ranking in upcoming Lima games

Cuba has already 397 athletes classified to the games in 28 sports

A few days remain for the start of America’s sports festival: the 2019 Pan-American Games in Lima and the Cuban delegation has completed a good preparation in order to face a highly competitive challenge event.

Cuba has already 397 athletes classified to the games in 28 sports. The delegation could increase to 425, since the registrations of 28 more representatives of track and field and tennis are yet to be confirmed.

According to the 31st National Preparation Seminar for the 2019-2020 Academic Year, held at the Convention Center of Cojímar, the Pan-American Games of Lima represent a high level scenario where multiple Olympic and World champions will attend since 19 of the 39 registered sports will confer direct places for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

According to Jorge Polo Vázquez, Vice-President of the National Institute for Sports, Physical Education and Recreation (INDER by its Spanish initials), the Cuban representation must achieve an efficiency of above 80%, as an attempt to overcome the number of medals achieved in Toronto 2015 (36 gold, 27 silver and 34 bronze medals). About the real possibilities of the athletes, the directive argued that the design of the training plans of each discipline has been evaluated monthly, enhancing the technical-methodological work in coordination with the Institute of Sports Medicine.

Polo Vázquez reported that, according to analysis carried out on the athletes composing the Cuban delegation, 44 athletes distributed in 13 sports have potential to win gold medal options; 21 athletes or collective disciplines in 11 sports have prospects of winning silver medals and 101 athletes in 23 sports could achieve bronze. Lima will host 419 events (Cuba will take part in 279).

Surpassing the 36 titles and the fourth place by countries in Toronto 2015 is possible since, according to Polo Vázquez, we have studied the rivals and prepared our athletes accordingly. In the last year, Cuba competed in more than one hundred international events, earning 95 gold metals.

The 28th Pan American Games will mark the arrival of the 900 gold medal for the Cuban delegation, which currently have 874 golden medals and holds the second position by countries after the United States (1,948 gold medals) and before Canada (456).

The seminar was chaired by the member of the Secretariat of the Party Central Committee Olga Lidia Tapia and the president of the National Institute for Sports, Physical Education and Recreation (INDER), Osvaldo Vento.

  • Published in Sports

Cuban Musical Inspired In The Phantom of the Opera

Havana, June 22 (Prensa Latina) A Spanish-language version of the musical The Phantom of the Opera premieres on Saturday in Cuba with the participation of several cultural local institutions and young Chilean orchestra conductor Ninoska Medel.

The theater America hosts, on June 22, 23, 29 and 30, the adaptation of local radio and television scriptwriter Pedro Urbezo, based on the piece by English musician Andrew Lloyd Webber, who in turn recreated scenes based on the French novel by writer Gaston Leroux.

Lately, at a press conference, Urbezo expressed his intention was to move a legend of the old Opera theater from Paris to America, downtown in Havana, which have large basements, similar to the European Colosseum.

With live orchestral accompaniment, lyrical singers of several generations will perform the main roles such as sopranos Dayri Llanes and Angelica Martinez, tenors Reynier Borrego, Lisbani Rojo and Bryan Erice, mezzo-soprano Giselle Polanco and singer of the Opera House David Delgado.

According to Llanes, there is no soprano in the world who does not dream of Christine's character and considers it a privilege to star in such a grateful piece although the character demands a vocal work of great contrasts.

Actress and singer Zoyla Jimenez will perform the costume designer character of the Opera House, introducing touches of humor and symbolic elements of contemporaneity.

In the show live music orchestration, acting, singing and dancing converge, and in the last show, on June 30, all the cast will share the stage, to give a special performance.

  • Published in Culture
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