Cuba is slowly opening up to technology, but it hasn’t actually been making technology. Its exports are dominated by natural products like nickel, sugar and tobacco. The nation is about to diversify, however: it just inaugurated its first computer factory, which officials claim will “promote technology and digital literacy.” It’s a modest plant, to put it mildly. The factory is only capable of producing 120,000 devices per year, and Chinese electronics giant Haier is shouldering a lot of the responsibility by supplying equipment, tech and training. The facility is thoroughly modern, however, and will make modern laptops (using Celeron, Core i3 and Core i5 chips, Cuba eagerly points out) as well as 8- and 10-inch tablets.
It’s not hard to see why Haier would take an interest in a Cuban factory. This lets it produce devices for the region (except the US, as you might guess) while keeping labor costs low — remember, even services like Netflix are relatively expensive on a typical wage. The odds aren’t high that many of these PCs and tablets will reach Cuban hands, and it’s not clear that the factory will create many jobs. Nonetheless, it’s an important step for a country determined to get a stronger presence in the global economy.