As part of its ongoing march toward a more technologically advanced future, Cuba has opened its very first computer factory, slated to produce tablets and laptops to help catapult the island nation’s populace into the digital age. It’s a distinct departure from the sort of production for which Cuba is currently best known (think sugar and tobacco), but in the name of diversification, the factory will produce around 120,000 devices per year.
Owned by the state-run Informatics, Communications and Electronics Entity, the factory marks Cuba’s entry into the actual manufacturing of its own electronics. The move, Cuban officials say, will “promote technology and digital literacy.” It will have quite a bit of help from Chinese tech behemoth Haier, which will supply equipment, technology, and training to the factory. The output, officials say, will be quite modern, with laptops featuring Celeron, Core i3 and Core i5 chips; and production including 8- and 10-inch tablets.
Despite the emergence of such a factory in Cuba, the new business may not directly benefit the Cuban people. While it will likely benefit China and Haier (the company ought to be able to keep labor costs low), the factory probably won’t be a huge job creator, nor will it necessarily mean that Cubans will have greater access to Cuban-made electronics. Rather, Cuba may begin exporting its laptops and computers to supplement its better known exports, like its cigars.
All the same, as Cuba begins to normalize its relations with the U.S. and the world at large, establishing a foothold in the technological space is certainly a wise move. We’ll have to see what comes of Cuba’s first laptop factory, and keep our eyes peeled for the emergence of the next tech step forward.