Project Overview

“Cuban Innovators and Cubans in general have adapted to the lack of infrastructure and have created their own Internet, an offline Internet based on peer to peer sharing of information." -Mariela Machado


The ICT4Cuba project was designed with the goal of providing an overview of digital media in Cuba, including issues of connectivity, cell phone penetration, and digital platforms. Columbia University SIPA's Anne Nelson and Debi Spindelman enlisted seven students- Chiara Bercu, Ana Carolina Diaz, Tricia Johnson, Laura Lehman, Mariela Machado Fantacchiotti, Emily Sylvia, and Gary Verburg- to conduct three months of remote research, which was complemented by ten days of field research in Cuba during March 2016.

In addition to reviewing communications infrastructure, the teams explored the implications of digital technology for three sectors of Cuban society: arts and culture, public health, and sustainable agriculture. During the March field visit, the team surveyed over 150 Cubans from all walks of life, ranging from government officials to local tobacco farmers. They were joined in the project by celebrated photographer Omar Z. Robles, whose work from the trip has received worldwide attention.
The participants would like to thank the many leading scholars in Cuban studies and leaders from the technology and business sectors who offered their guidance over the course of the semester.

This Wiki summarizes the semester's research. This research also resulted in two articles in Foreign Affairs, published by the Council on Foreign Relations, The Cuban Internet and Business Unusual in Cuba.
This research was implemented by students and administrators of the Masters of Public Administration in Development Practice program at Columbia University. Visit the Group Biography page for background on the team members.

For more information, contact Anne Nelson.

Video by Ana Carolina Diaz
Debi Spindelman, Chiara Bercu, Mariela Machado Fantacchiotti, Emily Sylvia, Tricia Johnson, Laura Lehman, Gary Verburg, Ana Carolina Diaz,
Anne Nelson, Omar Z. Robles