DIGITALIZING KAZAKHSTAN

Kazakhstan 2018 | TELECOMS & IT | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Dauren Abayev, Minister of Information and Communications, on the impetus behind the establishment of the ministry, its achievements thus far, and upcoming initiatives for 2018.

Dauren Abayev
BIOGRAPHY
Dauren Abayev is the Minister of Information and Communications. From August 2001 to August 2003 he worked in the central apparatus of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, later becoming the head of the press service. From 2008 to 2009 he was Vice-President of the Press Secretary of the Republic of Kazakhstan, and became Press Secretary of the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan in October 2011.

What was behind the creation of the Ministry of Information and Communication in 2016?

Almost two years ago, a vital decision was taken by the President to form the Ministry of Information and Communications. In tandem with the rising priority of cybersecurity around the world, the need to improve the competitiveness of domestic media has become fundamental. We have been tasked to restore the population's trust in the local media by increasing its competitiveness. We have managed to systematize explanatory work in the media space, launch new projects, and start implementing modern products that meet contemporary demands. Several studies were conducted, including with the participation of international consulting agencies that revealed further growth of the economy was not possible without digitalization of key sectors such as industry, agriculture, and transport. Moreover, at the time, many countries had already started to draft digitalization programs. Despite the seemingly obviousness of the prospects of this sphere, there was no one state body responsible for coordinating the entire process. The establishment of the Ministry of Information and Communications has solved the problem. There was also strong demand on behalf of society to improve the quality of public services that is largely related to their automation. In light of all this, it seems logical that one state body is in charge of these issues.

What have been some of the early achievements of the Digital Kazakhstan reforms, and what role is the ministry playing in its implementation?

2018 will be decisive for implementation of the Digital Kazakhstan program. In particular, we will set the pace and vector of upcoming work. In short, the program is planned to run until 2020 and includes five directions, 17 initiatives, and 120 events. As targets, we plan to improve our position in the World Economic Forum's ranking on the ability to innovate indicator, as well as to increase the volume of the investments in start-ups up to KZT67 billion by 2022. At the same time, during the initial stage of program implementation, the Ministry of Information and Communication is tasked with clarifying its main points and strategic importance. The further success of all transformations depends on this. Currently, the entire and detailed regulatory base has been prepared. Now, the main role of the ministry is the overall coordination of activities of all state bodies in each of the five directions of the program.

What are will be your key objectives and expectations for 2018?

In 2018, the ministry begins to implement a project to provide settlements with high-speed internet. This project will be implemented by 2020 and will cover more than 1,200 rural settlements. This is one of the most socially significant undertakings of the ministry. On top of that, the project is personally supervised by the Head of State. The project effect is enormous: the basis for agriculture digitization, broadening public services coverage, and improvement of the quality of education and health in rural areas. Also, we will continue to incentivize the start-up ecosystem. At the beginning of the year, an accelerated program was launched on the basis of Astana HUB. This project will become a kind of Kazakhstan Silicon Valley, where unique IT products are developed. The government provides free offices and educational functions and legislatively stimulates demand for the new technologies from the real sector. In terms of the improvement of public services, the “digital by default" principle will continue to be implemented supposing the planning and provision of further public services exclusively electronically. Also, the paper-free project will be implemented this year, meaning there will be no need to request for certificates from one state body to receive the services from another state body. As for the media, we will continue to work on further modernization of public resources, release domestic products, as well as introduce modern mechanisms for the media market operation.