Accelerating Development through Digital Transformation

June 10, 2024

UNDP aims to mobilize resources and encourage actions with the purpose of closing digital gaps related to gender, age, skin color, or disability status.

Since 2018, with the expansion of mobile connectivity, more and more Cubans are accessing the internet. Six out of ten people use mobile phones, and at least nine out of ten access the internet through this mean. Additionally, around 282,000 households are connected, and 53,000 institutional connectivity services are operational.

However, not everyone is connected, accesses the potential benefits of digitalization on equal terms, or has the necessary skills to make the most of it.

In rural areas, fewer women use a mobile phone or the internet compared to urban areas. Usage is also lower among people aged 45 to 49, according to results from Cuba/MICS 2019 (Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey).

Digital transformation can be promoted by leveraging available capabilities and closing existing digital gaps. This has to be achieved without losing sight of rural women, older persons, people with disabilities, or those who, for various reasons, have limited access to or have a limited use of digital technologies.

For UNDP in Cuba, digital transformation and innovation are priority accelerators in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Our country program is committed to digital transformation and innovation as cross-cutting themes, with an emphasis on inclusion and gender equality.

Digital transformation can contribute to the expansion of development impacts by placing people and the planet at the center. From this perspective, we work for a world where digital technologies empower, include, and provide innovative, ethical, and sustainable solutions. We advocate for digital norms and open data management, as well as the strengthening of local digital ecosystems.

Creating strategic alliances is fundamental. We are consolidating collaboration with ministries, the private sector, universities, national institutions, new economic actors, and civil society organizations in Cuba.

In this way, we connect digital transformation with important issues for the country, such as effective government management based on information; information management systems for decision-making on environmental issues, disaster risk reduction and health services; optimization of public services, as well as diagnostics of the digital ecosystem and the design of associated strategies.

Some relevant experiences include the Guide for Digital Government Management in Cuban municipalities, part of the tools developed by the Articulated Platform for Integral Development (PADIT); the Guide for the Digitalization of Public Services; or the Cuba Gender Equality Observatory, supported in partnership with the National Office of Statistics and Information (ONEI) and the Federation of Cuban Women (FMC).

Additionally, progress has been made in the implementation of information systems to improve the quality of services related to HIV by health institutions and community-level organizations.

Among the recent cooperation agreements are those signed with the Havana Science and Technology Park and the University of Information Sciences, to promote the training and capacity building of strategic actors in the digital transformation of the country.

Similarly, within our institution, we promote digital transformation through training, staff awareness, and process dynamization. The “Digital Fitness Programme” promoted by the UNDP Digital Office, was an opportunity to incorporate digital transformation into our programs and projects. One of them is the “En Marcha” initiative, aimed at strengthening the business ecosystem in the provinces of Villa Clara and Holguín.

UNDP aims to mobilize resources and encourage actions with the purpose of closing digital gaps related to gender, age, skin color, or disability status; to promote inclusive digital transformation and innovation processes that ensure access for the most vulnerable communities.

Digital transformation has proven to be a driver for the development of human capacities due to its potential to ensure and improve the functioning of services, increase productivity, generate jobs, and facilitate people's lives. We are at a good time to push it, commited to integration, connection, and inclusion, for people and planet.