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The IT revolution taking place in Cuba is positioning the country as an attractive outsourcing option for Canadian companies, and a gateway to the Latin American market, according to website

Cuba has proved masterful in reinventing its economic priorities in troubled times, said the Canadian online news service on Tuesday.

Since 1991, Cuba's information technology sector has been developing at warp speed and now consists of about 45,000 highly skilled workers, 38 per cent of whom have specialized degrees.

More than 85 per cent of the country's IT industry is concentrated in technical services and software development, highlighted OffshoringTimes.

"We've been investing in this sector for the last 14 years and we now have highly skilled IT workers at every level," says Luis Marin, general manager of Avante, the marketing arm of Cubas Ministry of Information Technology and Communications. "IT doesn't require a lot of investment . . . except in human resources."

Canada is Cuba's third-largest trading partner and fourth-largest foreign investor, with more than $750-million tied up in the island nation, according to Canadian sources.

Cuba is particularly interested in joint ventures that will enhance the local infrastructure, while transferring skills to citizens. It wants to attract Western partners who can teach more about the standards and demands of the international market.

Cubas Centresoft Corp. and Cimex Corp., for example, have partnered with Sentai Software Corp. of Edmonton and Indcom Trading Co. of Orleans, Ont., to create an international software consortium called CubaSoft Solutions Inc.

CubaSoft is recruiting Cuban IT talent to work on projects for the Canadian companies and is also developing domestic IT projects.

"IT is among the main investment opportunities in Cuba for Canadian companies right now," says Raciel Proenza, economic counsellor with the Cuban embassy in Ottawa. "Its a high-priority sector because it also contributes to the development of our country."

Cuba is also poised to become a gateway to the lucrative Latin American market by providing software adaptation and localization services, offering the added benefit of regional economic associations within the Caribbean and Latin American economies.

"Latin America is starting to roll and they won't be far behind in technology down the road," the Canadian insider says. "Cuba offers a front row seat to one of the worlds fastest emerging markets, just a three-hour flight from Canada."

As the fifth-largest buyer of Canadian goods in Latin America, Cubas IT revolution is two-way. The country is also moving at a rapid pace to develop its own infrastructure, concentrating on networking all of its science and technology institutions the way the University of Havana has been.

The project eventually will link more than 6,000 primary and middle school libraries, 300 university libraries and more than 200 scientific institutions. Those numbers represent a significant opportunity for Canadian companies, based on Cubas inability to buy U.S. goods and services.

"Its a huge undertaking that will require hardware, software and everything in between," says Eduardo Orozco, director-general of the Institute for Scientific and Technological Information. "Canadian companies with good products at attractive price points have an excellent opportunity."

Source: Prensa Latina

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