BISHKEK (TCA) — Kyrgyzstan can become Central Asia’s IT transit hub if it effectively uses its geographical position and implements ambitious IT projects, the director of the Civil Initiative on Internet Policy public foundation Tattoo Mambetalieva said at the sixth Kyrgyz Information Technology Forum (KIT 2017) held on February 21-23 in Bishkek.
The forum brought together leading experts, heads of major IT companies, software developers, and politicians to discuss current projects and development prospects.
This year, the main topics of the KIT forum were information security, e-government, IT-education, the development of IT-industry, and e-commerce. The forum participants discussed barriers to innovation including corruption, conditions for investment attractiveness, and opportunities for public-private partnership.
The Kyrgyz Government pins high hopes on the IT sector development. Many projects related to electronic control of the country’s public bodies to ensure facilitated access of citizens to public services are currently being developed, Prime Minister of Kyrgyzstan Sooronbai Jeenbekov said. Common approaches to cyber security, e-governance, IT-education and e-commerce are relevant not only for the business but also for government agencies, he added. To perform these tasks, the State Committee for Information Technology and Communications was established in 2016.
A national high-tech project Smart Koom (Smart Society) will cover the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government, including the entire justice system, Jeenbekov said. The project will be an effective tool for the eradication of corruption in the public sector by minimizing the influence of the human factor through automation of administrative procedures of digital public services.
Both business and the State could benefit from joint implementation of ICT projects. Business could have more opportunities for economic growth, the population will have high-quality services and employment, and the state structures will get transparency and accountability.
Kyrgyzstan’s laws allow implementing projects through public-private partnership, but not a single PPP project has been implemented by IT-companies in cooperation with the Government so far.
IT specialists are ready to work with the government agencies which are not able to maintain staff of highly skilled programmers who could create high quality products. Local IT companies could work to State orders. It would be less expensive and more effective for the State, but there are no inherent operating mechanisms in the PPP legislation to consolidate the State and private companies.
During the forum, an exhibition of modern information technologies was held and the Prime Minister presented awards for achievements in the field of information and communication technologies.
Civil activist Chorobek Saadanbek was named the IT Person of the Year for the development of the Kyrgyz language and its use in the Internet. Thanks to Saadanbek, the Kyrgyz language has been added to the Google translator service and Wikipedia.
The High-Tech Park of the Kyrgyz Republic won in the Best Social Project category.
Established in 2008, the High-Tech Park of Kyrgyzstan (HTP) has been enjoying tax incentives for IT companies since 2011. Six HTP companies had an annual turnover worth 80 million soms in 2014, which increased to 150 million soms in 2015. As of the end of 2016, 27 companies presented IT developments worth 250 million soms.
For Kyrgyzstan, it is a good indicator, as these incomes were generated by 250 programmers only. On average, one programmer has generated a one million som (about $14 thousand) income.
The High-Tech Park exports its software. Kazakhstan remains the main customer and consumes 38 percent of all the software developed by HTP, followed by the United States (about 30 percent). Japan has also shown interest in Kyrgyz software products.
Kyrgyzstan’s High-Tech Park is a virtual marketplace, as it has no office building. It also needs more, and good, programmers.