Bringing together 192 companies from 20 countries, the 23rd Azerbaijan International Telecommunications and Information Technologies Exhibition and Conference (Bakutel 2017, held from December 8-12) gave Azerbaijan another chance to confirm itself as an important ICT hub.
Virtual reality was the star of this year’s show, and not only in gaming. One of the trends this year was the combination of the two technologies for applications in fields ranging from art to medicine.
“Virtual reality is a very new field for us but as our research shows, in a couple of years it will be one of the most popular and most demanded sectors,” Mia Aliyeva, co-founder at Omarov’s Game Studio tells Emerging Europe.
In 2017 Omarov’s indie game studio published three mobile games that have attracted over three million players. It is working on its very first VR project.
Azerbaijan is making progress not only in virtual reality. The Ministry of Transport, Communications and High Technologies took part at the exhibition and presented new developments in nanotechnology, e-government, electronic signature infrastructure and cloud services data centres.
“Over the last few years the ICT sector in Azerbaijan has improved very fast, and the decisions and steps being taken in this area by the government have helped,” said Mrs Alyieva. “The president of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev is taking steps to encourage the non-oil sectors, especially in the ICT field. As a result of that, there are more than 10 incubator centres, with all the essential resources for startups, where we can find working space, meet with investors and access various local and global events.”
According to a 2016 World Bank study, ICT has strong potential in Azerbaijan, but many risks remain. The country faces the challenge of diversifying its economy away from energy resources to create new sources of growth and quality jobs.
“Azerbaijan has the potential to strengthen and diversify its economy through the development of the information technology industry,” says Larisa Leshchenko, World Bank Country Manager for Azerbaijan. “IT has strong growth potential, and carries the promise of creating high value added jobs among young, skilled graduates.”
To achieve this objective, the country needs to make sure that the education system meets the requirements of employers and develops the domestic IT market in order to compete at a global level.