What is behind Cisco's strategic partnership with the government's Digital Kazakhstan program?
This partnership dates back to a visionary initiative by Kazakhstan's President Nazarbayev in preparation for Expo 2017. As we began working with the government to support this, we quickly realized there was a strong will to not only demonstrate our “green" digital capabilities, but also leverage the exhibition to make new strides in the digitalization of Kazakhstan. Realizing this potential, President Nazarbayev met with John Chambers, Cisco's Executive Chairman, in New York in 2015 to outline potential areas where Cisco's technology and experience could contribute to the modernization of the country. The following year, the government began developing the “Digital Kazakhstan" program led by the Minister of Information and Communication. Cisco also played an important role in its development, advising which relevant digital initiatives could be applied to Kazakhstan. Cisco's broad set of digital solutions and over 30 years of IT leadership were clear synergies between our capabilities and ambitions. As such, we took the strategic decision to include Kazakhstan in our Country Digitization Acceleration (CDA) program, which was implemented in 16 countries worldwide. As the only country in Central Asia to do so, we were delighted to see Kazakhstan in this privileged group, a great testament to the country's determination to digitize its economy in a comprehensive, efficient, and visionary way.
What are some of the key areas under the CDA initiative in which you will support Kazakhstan's digitization efforts?
There are a number of focus areas for Kazakhstan in our CDA strategy. These include digital access to government services, cybersecurity, smart cities, digital mining, and education. A significant proportion of citizens, particularly in rural areas, have limited access to several basic government and financial services such as applying for identification documents or getting a loan consultation. Therefore, we started with a remote government services project, connecting the national network of the 'Government for Citizens' service provider. The next step is a collaboration with KazPost, which has one of the broadest networks across the country, to install remote service terminals for citizens. Another crucial segment relates to digital mining, where we are working with some of the biggest local players such as KazAtomProm and Kazakhmys with the intention of applying some of our innovative security solutions and industrial automation controls. By creating a unified platform, we help enable local mining companies improve their decision-making and reduce their operating costs. Furthermore, leveraging our vast experience in developing smart cities (Cisco Kinetic for Cities) across the world, we are partnering with the government and local authorities to modernize transport connectivity and energy efficiency in cities across Kazakhstan. We have already initiated a pilot project with the municipal government of Astana on a system to support smart lighting, traffic, and environmental monitoring. After only six months, we are already working on expanding the pilots to other cities such as Almaty or Shymkent. These are just a few examples of the scope of work under the Cisco CDA partnership here. Kazakhstan has a clear goal of becoming one of the top 30 global economies by 2050 by implementing an ambitious digital agenda.
How would you describe your engagement with the private sector and your commitment to build lasting ties with the growing IT industry in Kazakhstan?
We have a network of more than 300 registered partners in Kazakhstan. Working with them, we have been able to significantly widen and deepen our business with the local private sector. From network infrastructure to videoconference technologies, data center analytics, and cybersecurity, we provide a broad range of solutions, as well as design and implementation services. One of the key factors to successful digitization is the availability of a digitally skilled workforce. To close this skills gap, we are expanding the Cisco Networking Academy program in Kazakhstan.