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Why Cuba could be the next Silicon Valley (eventually)

Mike Elgan | March 22, 2016
Cuba is an Internet backwater, but I think its next revolution could be digital.

An organization called HeyCuba recently held a hackathon in Miami, where more than 100 developers competed to develop the best app for bringing better Internet access to Cuba. The winner was a Cuban developer competing under a pseudonym.

Some neighborhoods now have illegal "street nets" that connect people in the neighborhood to each other (but not to the Internet) via Ethernet cables.

Cubans also pass around flash drives called el paquete semanal (the weekly package) filled with Netflix movies, episodes of House of Cards, YouTube videos, digital music, news reports, mobile apps and other content. This flash-drive network is actually a platform for digital entrepreneurship. For example, the drives contain a kind of Cuban Craigslist called Revolico, which features black-market products for sale. And a digital magazine called Vistar Magazine is distributed almost entirely on these thumb drives. The paquete costs between $1 and $2 per week.

Why Cuba's future is bright

From what I've seen here, Cubans make kick-ass entrepreneurs. They're educated, motivated and excited about the future.

Ironically, the Communist revolution has done a good job preparing Cuba for capitalism. Thanks to the nation's 99.8% literacy rate and its huge number of engineers, Cuba could become a tech hub if allowed.

The only thing Cuba needs now is much better Internet connectivity and the political freedom to really use it.

Now if you'll excuse me, I've got to file this story from the sidewalk, then go wave at the president's limo.


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