Azerbaijan, Baku / Trend corr S. Babayeva / The Azerbaijan IT and Communications Ministry divulged its plans on development of the IT sector in 2008 and also released the basic achievements in 2007. The Trend 's interview with Iltimas Mammadov, the Azerbaijani Deputy IT and Communications Minister:
Question: Which events took place in the field of IT and communications in 2007?
Answer: First of all, Azerbaijan has been paying more attention to this field, since the national strategy on the development of ICT was approved. In Dec 2003, the Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev stated at the Universal Informational Summit that the key purpose was turning of the 'black gold' into the 'human gold'. The basic laws complying with the up-to-date requirements were passed, and all the conditions enabling the development and the prosperity were provided for the implementation of this idea and for the development of the ICT field. As a result of the work carried out within the framework of the state program, on the development of the IT and communication (Electronic Azerbaijan) intended for 2005-2008, the share of ICT in GDP of the country is growing and for the time being it varies between 4 to 5 %.
Azerbaijan occupies 71st place in using the advanced ICT in 2006-2007, following Russia among 122 advanced countries and leaving behind Bulgaria, Kazakhstan, Serbia, Ukraine, Egypt, Pakistan and Moldova. The internet network is expanded in the country. We have over 30 internet providers and there are over 5,000 sites functioning under az-domain.
The adaptation of the Next Generation Network (NGN) technologies is extending in Baku, to provide for the new and high-quality service to the population (VOIC, Internet, IPTV, IPFon, etc). The same is being done in the other regions. The reconstruction of the telephone network, as well as introduction of NGN, in Shamakha region has been competed.
The construction of an optic cable connecting the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic (NAR) with Azerbaijan via Iran has been completed. By the end of the year, we will be able to connect with Turkey.
The year of 2007 can be considered as one of the most successful year in the field of IT and communications. We hope to gain the same success in the coming the future with the increased speed.
Question: What are your priorities in the IT field for 2008?
Answer: Our strategic purpose is to enhance the IT network complying with the up-to-date standards within the next three or four year and to provide new telecommunication services. The Government is developing the elements of the electronic governance, and the prospects in this connection have been coordinated with the World Bank. We are cooperating with the range of countries and have launched cooperation with the Governments of Korea and the United States, as well as Moldova. There is a special program supported by the State, which is intended for development of IT in Azerbaijan, and is a field of priority. The project is on the creation of the Regional Innovative Areas within the framework of Special Economic Areas. The first and the most important one of the five key factors in the project, is the introduction of the privileges. The taxes and customs in the prospective area must be reduced to zero.
Our second motive is the development of the human resources. The most important thing for us is the establishment of the International IT University, the establishment of the IT Centre and the Nano-technology Research Centre, the improvement of the education in the IT faculties at the Azerbaijani universities.
Another motive is to enable the Azerbaijani youth to receive IT education in the world's leading universities. A special program initiated by the Azerbaijani President has been developed, and approved for this purpose.
The third direction is reforms. The fourth one is the implementation of the regional projects. The Azerbaijani IT market is not large; therefore the steps made within the framework of the regional area give us the ground to pursue such a policy, enabling all the ICT companies functioning in Azerbaijan to operate not only in the local but also in the regional market.
Owing to the state support and the special attention paid by the administration of the country, Azerbaijan will strengthen even more in the region of an ICT leader. Azerbaijan will be able to take a worthy position among the developed countries in this field. IT and Communications will be the key factor of stable economy in Azerbaijan, and will play a significant role in the economic development and will contribute to the creation of the Azerbaijan global information society.