"Conoce Cuba," An App Focused On The Private Sector / 14ymedio, Zunilda
14ymedio, Zunilda Mata, Havana, 31 August 2016 – The daughter of
necessity and ingenuity, the application Conoce Cuba (Meet Cuba) has
been gaining ground on Android phones throughout the island. With an
intuitive design, well made and functional, it stands out among other
tools that also seek to provide information about private services and
places to eat or be entertained.
Conoce Cuba is distributed free in the weekly packet. Its developers,
the young engineers Eliecer Cabrera and Pablo Casas Rodríguez Yordi,
come from Camagüey and two years ago wrote the tool's first lines of
program code. Today, it is the work of their lives of which they feel
The two young men have designed versions with similar characteristics
for other provinces, but the capital city is where they have the most
complete inventory of restaurants, scenic places, clubs, cafes and homes
for rent. "In the future we want to offer new services," says Cabrera
Casas, but they prefer to move forward in careful steps and consolidate
what has been achieved.
The tool can be used without an internet connection, a trait shared by
many of the apps created on the island. Some of them were demonstrated
and exchanged during the first meeting of the Cuban Android Community,
which was held last Saturday at the studio of the artist Alexis Leyva
(Kcho), under the slogan "For a technological culture available to all."
The creation of these two camagüeyanos is "useful for visitors to the
island," they explain and they say they have focused "on the private
sector from the beginning." The app only provides "information on places
that offer different services, but doesn't include prices or ratings, so
users have the freedom to choose," says one of the creators.
The long-held dream of the student was taking shape in Cabrera Casas'
mind and when he graduated he made the decision. "If it doesn't exist,
we're going to do it," and he turned his hand to the work with an
obsession that knows no bounds.
Totally free, the developers are careful not to include any license or
restriction that would impede the massive use of Conoce Cuba.
To distribute it, they based their strategy on visiting cellphone
repairers and developed an advantageous collaboration with their owners.
At first, they walked around the city knocking on doors of the
self-employed to offer their product.
The proprietor of the Ultracell workshop in Havana was one of the many
who learned of the existence of Conoce Cuba on the street. After
offering the tool as a part of the installation package he loads on the
phones that come his way, he believes it has increased his numbers of
clients and their satisfaction.
Currently the two engineers have also developed a way for business
owners to contact them via email so they can request changes and updates
in the tab associated with their business.
They acknowledge, however, they have had to overcome many obstacles to
pursue their dream. Technological limitations hinder any work of this
kind, but above all they are held back by the restricted internet access
afflicting the country.
Cuba is one of the nations with the lowest rate of connectivity in the
world, with only 5% of the population on-line, a percentage that is
reduced to 1% in the case of broadband.
During the first months of work, the young engineers relied on the
internet rooms operated by the Telecommunications Company of Cuba
(ETECSA), or on friends who copied for them "some tools" they didn't
have, said Cabrera Casas.
Today, competitors abound, such as the app Isladentro (Island Within)
one of the most popular in Cuba. This tool also offers a guide for
travelers, is available for free, and in addition it not only shows
private services, but also state services and is organized by province.
"That people can find a great deal of information no further away than
their pocket" was the objective guiding the two engineers who created
Conoce Cuba, and so far they seem to have succeeded.
Source: "Conoce Cuba," An App Focused On The Private Sector / 14ymedio,
Zunilda Marta – Translating Cuba -