29 June 2021
Orelvis Bormey, one of the businesspeople who took part in the 2nd Cuba-EU Expert Exchange programme, tells us about his experience and the support he received from the programme
Why is it important for Cuba to strengthen its entrepreneurial capacities at this time?
Reinforcing entrepreneurial capacities in Cuba now means adapting. The economic-social model envisaged by the country is constantly shifting, along with the measures adopted to make the new forms of economic management more flexible. This requires enterprise, which is the same as creating, revolutionising, adding, changing and transforming. This is more important now than ever before, because of the need for sovereignty and economic independence.
How has the 2nd Cuba-EU Expertise Exchange Programme helped you?
The 2nd Cuba-EU Expert Exchange Programme has allowed me to make a qualitative and quantitative leap forward. Sharing time, experiences and insights with the European teachers has given me a different perspective. It has allowed me to see situations and manage them with professional tools, rather than simply talking about problems or difficulties with decision-makers. The programme’s courses promote proactivity, constant responsibility for coordination, communication and process improvement as essential habits for managers.
What specific activities have you taken part in?
- European Diploma in Management Teaching, graduated on 12 February 2016
- Continuity Conference, May 2016.
- Continuity Conference, January 2018.
- Continuity Conference, April 2019.
- Foreign Trade Trainer Training Course, May 2021.
What benefits has working with this programme had for your business?
The programme continuously analyses case studies, practical training exercises that focus on the use of professional techniques and tools that have helped me manage our activities with flexibility, considering a multifactorial analysis for decision-making and always valuing its economic and social role for the stability and growth of the business.
Many situations have arisen, some expected, others much less so:
- There has been a shortage of essential raw materials, affecting production plans.
- Contracts have been terminated due to situations beyond the control of the parties.
- Increases in the prices of raw materials and inputs.
- Technology cannot be replaced due to import restrictions.
- Financial constraints on expanding production capacity or on guaranteeing the inventory levels required for a peak marketing period.
In general, we have always found a solution and I can assure you that the programme has had a significant impact. It has taught us how to manage scenarios when unforeseen events arise, what to do when there are limitations on implementing a programme of activities and ensuring that a system works effectively.
Is your product the first non-state product to be sold in Cuban airports? In your opinion, how important is this?
Maní BORMEY was added to the products on offer at “Abel Santamaría” International Airport in Villa Clara and later it was made available in other airports due to the popularity of the products. Its presence there is significant because it allows travellers to identify and buy a Cuban product that is as deeply rooted in our culture as tobacco and rum. This is why it is very important to praise it, to honour it, to ensure that our processing and presentation distinguishes us as a product for different occasions.
Do you think this type of experience is important for the foreign expansion of companies and in attracting investment from abroad? If so, why?
Training is essential for individual and national development, to see other cultures and business experiences that are summarised and analysed by experts and academics. Being professionally prepared for the foreign expansion of companies and investment from abroad means guaranteeing local and national development.
Do you plan to participate again in cooperation programmes such as the 2nd Cuba-EU Expert Exchange Programme?
I’m looking forward to taking part. The teamwork achieved in BORMEY allows everyone to continue to improve their professional skills and develop the manufacture of peanut-based products, providing new perspectives for research and innovation.
Would you recommend working with cooperation programmes such as the 2nd Cuba-EU Expert Exchange?
Yes, especially as they make you realise that at any time and any place there are opportunities to develop and explore ideas and business. It is possible to look for tools, information, establish communication, computer systems and controls and even establish working links with multidisciplinary teams and satisfy tangible and intangible needs.
05 March 2021
Posteado en : Reportage
After decades of energy inefficiency, technological innovations have led to some enormous improvements in the responsible use of energy. However, the pressing need to curb climate change requires more efforts in this area.
Energy efficiency means optimising the use of resources to produce energy. As well as consuming fewer resources, it means reducing emissions. This is essential to gradual decarbonisation and to keep the increase in the planet’s temperature to a maximum of 1.5ºC. Companies and individuals have become more acutely aware of the finite nature of fossil fuels, their increasing cost and their environmental impact.
The international community made a global commitment in the 2015 Paris Agreement and the 2030 Agenda. The goal for 2030 is to ensure that everybody has access to electricity and to increase energy efficiency and the use of renewable sources of energy.
This general objective is specified in two of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Among the aims of SDG7 “Affordable and clean energy” is to double the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency from 2015 to 2030. As the UN Energy Progress Report points out, although things are improving, there is still much to be done. SDG11 “Sustainable cities and communities” also warns of the concentration of the population in cities and the need to develop adequate, energy efficient urban infrastructures.
To this end, in 2012 the European Union enacted a series of binding measures to promote energy efficiency with Directive 2012/27 / EU. In 2020, under the European Green Deal, the European Union committed to a more demanding objective of improving energy efficiency from 20% to 32.5% compared to 1990 levels.
With the 2030 Agenda and with European and Spanish cooperation as its point of reference, FIIAPP has been working on cooperation projects with public administrations around the world for more than 20 years. With the maxim of benefiting citizens, several of the projects implemented by the Foundation have included the promotion of public policies to foster energy efficiency among their objectives.
For example, under the EUROCLIMA + cooperation programme, we are currently working in collaboration with Paraguay to promote clean technologies and energy efficiency. As part of the “Promotion of the Efficient Use of Biomass in Paraguay” action, the Vice Ministry of Mines and Energy and the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development (MADES) are receiving support to develop a calculation tool for SMEs to carry out self-diagnosis of energy consumption and identify potential savings points.
In the field of Public Technical Cooperation, the team is working to design and run a national dissemination campaign targeting the agro-industrial sector. The purpose of this campaign is to instil the concept of energy efficiency and its benefits in economic, social and environmental aspects in the productive sector.
FIIAPP also works closely on energy efficiency matters with Cuban public bodies. Cuba has launched a new roadmap for the country to gradually incorporate renewable energy sources and work on energy efficiency. The aim is that by 2030 at least 24% of the energy generated will be renewable with better efficiency. This would mean saving 1.73 million tons of fuel per year and avoid releasing 6 million tons of CO2 emissions into the atmosphere.
One of the actions of the Cuba-EU II Expert Exchange programme aims to improve energy efficiency in the Cuban hospitality sector. Three specialists from the Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Institute (IRC) are taking part in a Master’s Degree in Energy Conversion Systems and Technologies, at the Rovira y Virgilio University in Tarragona.
Alexander Maura is working on his thesis on solar energy-based conversion systems in a hotel in an isolated area that generates its own electricity using fossil fuels, Ricardo Domínguez’s thesis explores the use of biogas for refrigeration and air conditioning purposes of a pig farm while Carlos Luis Izquierdo is designing a grid-connected photovoltaic system at IRC to boost renewable energy and reduce emissions.
‘Cuba Renovables’ is another of the projects managed by FIIAPP to promote energy efficiency among Cuban institutions. The project is part of the “Cuba Energy Support Programme”, implemented through a programme of cooperation between the EU and Cuba. Its aim is to contribute to the effective implementation of the ‘Policy for the prospective development of renewable energy sources and energy efficiency’ in Cuba and its regulatory framework.
The project supports the new national policy promote rational use of energy by reducing consumption and increasing savings. Cuban institutions have already launched different awareness campaigns for the population. Companies also play an important role and work is being done to promote the production of equipment for private and industrial use that is more efficient in saving energy.
These projects are an example of the effort of the international community, the European Union and Spain to offer joint responses through cooperation to global problems such as climate change. With the 2030 Agenda, the SDGs and the European Development Consensus as a guide, FIIAPP encourages public institutions to share their experience, steering them to generate results, forge relationships of trust and strengthen values in societies.
25 February 2021
In this interview, José R. Rojo Rodríguez, General Director of the Institute of Refrigeration and Air Conditioning of Cuba, tells us about the importance of the IRC and the cooperation work which they have been carrying out together with the EU-Cuba Facility for Expertise Exchanges II, funded by the European Union and managed by FIIAPP
What is the Institute of Refrigeration and Air Conditioning?
The Institute of Refrigeration and Air Conditioning (IRC) is a national reference centre for the refrigeration sector in Cuba. Our corporate purpose is to provide scientific-technological services, conducting applied research in matters of refrigeration, air conditioning and ventilation.
We have more than 40 years of experience providing specialised solutions in these areas, with a highly qualified professional staff that carries out projects that range from the project itself to the supplying and provision of specialised technical assistance, called “turnkey projects”.
What are your main areas of work?
Our main activity consists of services for science and technological innovation works, in the national territory and abroad, technical assistance, feasibility studies, surveys, diagnoses, knowledge management and technological management by applying new technologies. We also carry out tests on refrigeration and air conditioning equipment, to certify its quality and verify its energy efficiency, both for national and foreign legal entities, provided that the latter are domiciled, established or authorised to operate in the country.
At IRC we also organise training sessions, technical events, seminars and conferences on refrigeration, air conditioning and ventilation, and we carry out standardisation work, such as: development of quality specification standards, technical requirements and energy consumption rates and technological processes within these specialist areas, as well as marketing raw materials and idle materials.
Which IRC jobs would you highlight due to their relevance to energy efficiency in Cuba?
At IRC, we have experience in developing turnkey projects for refrigeration facilities for different products and in different locations in Cuba, among which are the following: the Frigorífico San Pedrito with three freezing tunnels, the Contramaestre refrigerator for citrus fruits, the refrigerator of the Mariel Special Development Zone and the Camarones de Guajaca processing plant.
We also have laboratories that certify the quality of the refrigeration and air conditioning equipment that Cuba produces or imports and we run several specialised courses in refrigeration and air conditioning that can also be taught online through the GESTA virtual platform, the Centre for Business Management, Technical and Administrative Achievement of the Ministry of Industries of Cuba.
How is the EU-Cuba Facility for Expertise Exchanges II Programme supporting this issue? Could you mention some specific activities?
IRC’s participation in the programme has enabled us to deepen our expertise along the lines of energy efficiency and the use of all residual energy sources. This has already made it possible to work on reducing energy consumption in facilities belonging to several organisations. Likewise, this experience and the knowledge acquired has multiplied and has reached more people through the courses given by our centre to all the personnel interested in these topics.
Support for the programme has been very important for us in facilitating the participation of 3 IRC specialists on a Master’s Degree in Energy Conversion Systems and Technologies, at the Rovira y Virgilio University of Tarragona, Spain, which has allowed us to raise the scientific level of our specialists. They are already preparing their final Master’s theses, which have also been linked to the issues we are working on with the EU-Cuba Facility for Expertise Exchanges II Programme.
Within the framework of the Programme and in relation to this Master’s Degree, what results do you hope to obtain from this training?
The participation of our specialists on the Master’s Degree will allow us to open new lines of work that will influence the use of residual energies to protect the environment and expand the use of renewable energies in refrigeration and air conditioning in our country.
12 November 2020
The European Union-Cuba Expertise Exchange II programme, funded by the European Union and managed by FIIAPP, works alongside ONAT, the Cuban National Office of Tax Administration. The Deputy Chief of Office, Reinaldo W. Alemán Mondeja, talks about how he has adapted his work to the COVID-19 pandemic.
What measures has ONAT taken to continue working during the pandemic?
ONAT has not only not halted its work, but has intensified and transformed it during this current pandemic.
The Ministry of Finance and Prices introduced a series of tax and financial measures to tackle the COVID-19 situation which mainly focus on three areas: salary guarantees for workers in the business sector, adjustments to personal income tax payments and tax payments by corporate entities.
To ensure compliance, ONAT has implemented a system that includes the following new features: Video conferences with Office managers, weekly reports that monitor the level and control of suspensions of operations, payment reductions and deferrals and their impact on collection a review of revenue collection and a redesign of fiscal controls.
General measures have also been taken to prevent any spread of the virus in ONAT offices. For example, all workers are monitored on a daily basis to identify possible manifestations of COVID-19, office premises and vehicles are regularly disinfected and adequate air flow and ventilation is guaranteed. Working from remotely and from home has also been promoted, limiting activity to what is strictly necessary and avoiding meetings, face-to-face training and any other procedures that involve people coming into close proximity with each other.
What has been done to prevent and avoid the spread of COVID-19?
In order to protect workers, our priority has been to comply with measures related to prevention and health, with the influx of people into office spaces also avoided. In cases where this is essential, attention to older taxpayers has been prioritised to avoid prolonging the time they spend on our premises.
The use of email and telephone communication has been encouraged when carrying out certain procedures, with a direct line set up to assist taxpayers in all municipal, provincial and central offices. For example, in the case of corporate entities, deferral requests are made by email.
Other measures worthy of mention are those that focus on the public dissemination of all action undertaken. Through the various means of communication available, the telephone numbers and addresses of all the offices in the country have been made public, with the introduction of a computer application that facilitates contact between the user and ONAT. The possibility of requesting payment deferrals has also been publicised through social media and websites, informing people as to what information is required for such procedures.
We have also stepped up communication through social media and on our website, aimed at tackling COVID-19, with messages such as: “Avoid going to ONAT offices, contact us by phone or email. By protecting yourself, we can protect everyone” and “Take care of your health and that of your family – use the bank’s electronic payment gateways”. At the National Tax Administration Office we care about managing payments; however, what matters most to us people’s health.
How have the public responded?
The degree of acceptance that these measures have had from people has been very positive. For example, the firstname.lastname@example.org service has been widely used. We have responded to a large number of questions and concerns regarding developments which have arisen due to the current situation. In Cuba, we used to experience events which affected certain areas of the country, such as those of a meteorological nature, but not in such a generalised way as with this pandemic.
The ONAT Telegram channel has been widely accepted, which today has a large number of subscribers, with news also posted online, as well as on ONAT institutional Facebook, YouTube and Twitter platforms. We are using a wide range of social media, infographics and short videos that explain the processes that have been put in place.
I can honestly say that the work that ONAT has undertaken has been very well received, which I think is due to the quality of the response given to these inquiries and all the efforts that have been made to facilitate these procedures for the public throughout the country.
The expertise exchange programme works alongside ONAT in a number of areas. Do you feel that the programme’s work on digitisation has helped the Office’s adaptation to the pandemic?
Both the work on digitising processes and the acquisition of computer equipment through the programme have been key at this time.
The acquisition of video-conferencing technology has been decisive, as it not only helps us to connect with the provinces and manage a range of procedures with them, but it has also allowed us to connect internationally, for example with CIAT, the Inter-American Center of Tax Administrations.
However, that has not been the most important aspect. The video conferencing system has also served to remotely train our staff throughout Cuba in order to show, exchange, supervise and monitor, given the impossibility of travelling between provinces.
We feel that the diversification of activities developed within the framework of the European Union-Cuba Expertise Exchange II programme to be of great importance – workshops in Cuba and in other countries, internships abroad, participation in national and international events, exchanges in conferences with international organisations and the meetings we have had between the institutions that are part of the programme. All this has helped raise the technical professional level and the innovative capacity of our specialists, managers and civil servants. All of this ties in with some of the measures implemented in this phase of COVID-19. For instance, we are working on improving taxpayer services in relation to online tax payment, introducing a number of computer applications and methods, the knowledge for which has been learnt during the programme’s activities.
We really need to keep looking for solutions to the problems we face. If we can virtually host an administrative session of the CIAT Assembly and train our staff, we are sure that we will be able to continue to provide training within the framework of the Programme.
So far we have not stopped working, ensuring that a great deal has been done for the good of the taxpayer, the nation and our own organisation. We have had very valuable experiences that will stay with us, so we are sure that the programme will continue to contribute in all aspects to keep our organisation and our country moving forward.
I would like to repeat my pleasure at being part of this team and also having FIIAPP‘s support on this journey.
23 June 2020
Posteado en : Opinion
The biopharmaceutical sector in Cuba has managed to take significant steps forward in the midst of the Covid-19 crisis. Darien García tells us about this below
The expert from the Cuba-EU II Experiences Exchange project, Darien García Díaz, shares with us the important advances that the programme is making in the Cuban biopharmaceutical sector in the current context of Covid-19. He also relates how the programme has had to adapt to new circumstances to continue its operation and joint cooperation.
Composed of more than 30 institutions, BioCubaFarma is the main business group in the Cuban biopharmaceutical sector. Its structure, which includes closed cycle centres, enables ideas to be generated leading to innovative products, their development, production, and marketing, it also promotes the training of young professionals through its academic programmes and close collaboration with the Ministry of Public Health and the Cuban educational system. The main priority for the products produced in its facilities is to supply the national networks of pharmacies and hospitals, and secondly, they constitute an important source of exports that, due to their quality, have contributed to gaining a well-deserved international reputation. Areas such as cancer, complications of diabetes, autoimmune diseases and infectious diseases are successfully addressed through its research programmes.
The need to properly evaluate the efficiency of these products in terms of their costs and therapeutic effects using pharmaco-economic tools led to the start of a successful collaboration relationship with the European Union, through the Experience Exchange Programme coordinated by FIIAPP and the Cuban National Economic Research Institute (INIE). More than 8 actions have and are being carried out with international experts in the field during the 2018-2020 period, with the Carlos III University in Madrid playing a fundamental role in their coordination, leading to the training of 21 Cuban specialists who have been involved in achieving important objectives for BioCubaFarma. The main results include the economic evaluation of Heberprot P for diabetic foot ulcers in Mexico, which allowed it to be accepted by the corresponding regulatory bodies; the economic evaluation of nimotuzumab for head and neck cancer; and cost studies on vaccination programmes for pneumococcus and rotavirus in Cuba.
In the midst of the current Covid-19 epidemic which has led to an international economic and health crisis, the identification of actions that will enable the accelerated implementation of programmes to combat the virus and adequate decision-making have become a priority for the Experience Exchange Programme and for BioCubaFarma. The international event “Virtual ISPOR 2020 HEOR: Advancing Evidence to Action” arose as a unique opportunity that is part of this strategy. The sessions included a plenary conference to investigate the results and economic aspects related to Covid-19, as well as topics covering the challenges for health policies, clinical decision-making and new designs for cost-effectiveness studies. Case studies were presented including the Singapore National Centre for Infectious Diseases and its Outpatient Screening and Capabilities Centre. In addition, the presentation discussed the strategies for detecting suspected cases during outbreaks and protocols for segregating patients with different risk levels to prevent cross-infection.
The virtual nature of the programme allowed the participation of a Cuban specialist as delegate and an exchange between top-level figures along with access to more than 60 hours of conferences that will be kept as reference material for the Cuban company and other interested international entities. Additionally, membership of ISPOR was organised for the participating Cuban specialist, which allows access to leading publications on the subject, additional virtual events and exchange networks in this discipline that will have a positive impact on BioCubaFarma.
The continuation of the actions from the Experience Exchange Programme with the European Union in the current international context, undoubtedly, represents an important cooperation action that will raise the scientific, economic and social standards of the Cuban biopharmaceutical company.
Darien García Díaz, a specialist from the BioCubaFarma Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology and counterpart in the Cuba-EU II Experience Exchange Programme.
21 May 2020
Posteado en : Opinion
Alma Martín, support technician for the EU-Cuba Experience Exchange project, updates us on how the activities programmed to promote renewable energy sources in the country have been reassessed. She gives us her view on how to transform the limitations caused by COVID into advantages for the project.
Participating in the management of an international cooperation project is a fascinating job, although sometimes the rush and deadlines do not allow us to enjoy the work we do or to measure the great difference that its implementation makes for its beneficiaries. However, a momentous event such as COVID19 making its appearance in our lives upsets any plans and expectations we may all have. There is no SWOT analysis that foresees a context like the current one. And despite the seriousness of the situation and the problems we are facing, it is precisely now that an opportunity is arising that cannot be missed: to carefully address important aspects of the activities we are carrying out, paying more attention to them if possible and dedicating more time to them than ever, to ensure that when we can start them up, they will be as successful as we hope.
One of the most important activities carried out this year in the EU-Cuba Experience Exchange Project for the promotion of renewable energy sources and energy efficiency in Cuba, which we are working on at the FIIAPP, is the “Cuba sustainable energy forum” whose second edition was scheduled for June this year; the current circumstances have made it necessary to change the dates, possibly to September of this year. The Forum, organized by the Cuban Ministry of Energy and Mines, the Delegation of the European Union of Cuba and with the support of Fira Barcelona, will be held at the PABEXPO fairground area (Havana).
In the days before, a series of parallel events will be held in the city of Santa Clara aimed at promoting foreign investment in bioelectric plants (organized by the state group AZCUBA) with the involvement of the Universities of the Caribbean and Cuba (organized by the Central University of Villas) that will include a visit to the Ciego de Ávila bioelectric plant.
Taking advantage of this forced recess, we have been finalizing details to ensure that this forum is a once again a success, and offering Cuban regional institutions and universities a space for encounters and dialogue where more than 150 people will be able to exchange experiences and the latest sector know-how. Through workshops planned around four main topics (solar thermal energy, electric mobility, energy accumulation and energy efficiency), national and international experts of recognized prestige in the field will, together with Cuban institutional personnel and directors of regional and international organizations, address the current situation and development of technologies, as well as international advances and agreements within the sector, which will undoubtedly encourage the implementation of the country’s new energy modernization policy.
The Forum thus adds to the efforts of the country and MINEM to incorporate energy efficiency and renewable energy sources. Among the objectives of the new energy policy, in 2030 it is expected that renewable energy in electricity generation will increase by 24%, produce 7,316 GWh/year, replace 1.75 million tons of fossil fuel and save emitting 6 million tons of CO2/year in the country.
Sometimes taking a step back allows you to take a firmer step forward later and make the leap that ensures you achieve your goals. By overcoming adversity and taking advantage of the opportunity that is presented to us, we will contribute much more to this project and go much further than we had intended.
Alma Martín Pérez, support technician for the EU-Cuba Experience Exchange Project.