How Kazakhstan is emerging as a regional leader in digital transformation

Kazakhstan’s digital transformation is not just a national project but a part of a broader tapestry that interconnects economies, technologies, and ultimately, human lives across the globe

The digital revolution is inevitably reshaping the face of the global economy and society. Kazakhstan, a Central Asian country rich in resources and potential, has emerged as a regional leader in this transformation.

Over the past decade, we have meticulously crafted a roadmap to become a regional leader in digital development. The strides we have taken, from widespread internet connectivity to fostering an innovation-centric ecosystem, reflect our commitment to building a digital-first nation.

From the first crucial steps of investing in our digital infrastructure, we have worked diligently to ensure internet access across not just urban centres but also in remote areas of the country.

This effort has dramatically increased internet penetration, enabling us to implement a robust e-government model that offers citizens and businesses a more straightforward, more efficient means of accessing essential services. We have significantly reduced bureaucratic hurdles, resulting in faster processes and better outcomes for people and enterprises alike.

Beyond infrastructure, investing in human capital has been of paramount importance. Our collaboration with international organisations and leading technology universities has yielded a strong IT workforce, further fuelling our digital ambitions. We have developed courses, seminars, and extensive training programs focused on IT and other future-centric disciplines. These initiatives aim to give our citizens the tools they need to thrive in an increasingly digital world.

Digital society

These investments translate into a far more streamlined interaction with the government for citizens. From the ease of re-registering a car in less than five minutes from the comfort of one’s home to adopting cashless payments that reach an impressive 85 per cent usage rate, the effects are deeply felt.

Even processes as crucial yet often complicated as obtaining birth certificates and child support have been simplified through digitalisation. In just a few clicks on a smartphone, mothers can complete all the necessary procedures without leaving the maternity ward. This is what digital development is all about: making life easier, more efficient, and allowing more time for what truly matters.

At the heart of our country’s digital revolution lies the development and execution of a strategic roadmap, as emphasized in President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev’s recent state-of-the-nation address. One notable mention was our plan to become an exporter of IT services. By the end of 2022, the export of IT services had reached 334 million US dollars. For a country still viewed by many as largely resource-dependent, this is a significant achievement that underscores the shift towards a knowledge-based economy.

In our most recent collaborations, we have been sharing our expertise in e-government with other countries, exemplified by a Memorandum of Understanding signed with Tajikistan. As part of our continued cooperation, we are also committed to training specialists in advanced IT skills, thereby solidifying a collective digital future for our region.

Our innovative drive doesn’t stop within our borders. We have launched the Silkroad Innovation Hub in the United States, a bold initiative designed to establish a pipeline of technological entrepreneurship from Central Asia to Silicon Valley. This move has positioned us alongside developed nations with similar initiatives, a significant leap forward in placing Kazakhstan on the global tech map.

Astana Hub

In addition, our technological hubs are paving the way for localised innovation. Our flagship hub, Astana Hub, has led the way, inspiring the establishment of 14 regional IT hubs.

These hubs offer a nurturing environment for start-ups, granting them access to much-needed resources and mentorship. Our Tech Orda programme alone aims to train 20,000 programmers in up-and-coming fields like Machine Learning, Data Science, and even Game Development. These programmes are breeding grounds for future tech leaders and visionaries, fortifying our IT landscape for the coming decades.

Our start-up ecosystem, too, has witnessed commendable growth, thanks in part to initiatives like QazTech Ventures and Qazangels. These organisations offer invaluable support to nascent startups, giving them the financial backing and mentorship they need to thrive. We have accelerators focusing solely on digital technology, blockchain projects, and decentralised finance.

Our journey towards digital development is both thrilling and challenging, but the outcomes we have achieved so far are rewarding. The president’s recent state-of-the-nation address highlights the commitment at the highest level of government to continue driving digital development and innovation. With state support, a burgeoning tech ecosystem, and a young, increasingly skilled workforce, Kazakhstan is more than ready to embrace the opportunities the digital age brings.

As we continue to evolve, our focus remains clear: To create a sustainable, efficient, and citizen-friendly digital ecosystem that serves as a model for other countries to follow. This involves ongoing collaborations, open dialogues, and shared ambitions as we engage with partners both within and beyond our borders.

Kazakhstan’s digital transformation is not just a national project but a part of a broader tapestry that interconnects economies, technologies, and ultimately, human lives across the globe. We are proud of the progress we have made, yet we remain eager and committed to shaping an even more promising digital future.

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