Kazakhstan plans to increase IT services exports to $1 bln by 2026

The issues of realization of new tasks within the framework of IT-industry development were considered at the Government session under the chairmanship of the Prime Minister of the Republic of Kazakhstan Alikhan Smailov.

Minister of Digital Development, Innovation and Aerospace Industry Bagdat Mussin noted that currently the state policy is aimed at intensive development of the innovation ecosystem in the Republic of Kazakhstan. This includes measures to improve the quality of human capital, create IT infrastructure and venture funds, attract foreign technology companies and create favorable conditions for local startups. 

In recent years, as a result of the proactive policy of the state, there has been a sharp increase in interest in the IT sphere. In particular, the number of students at the relevant faculties in universities is increasing. Modern IT schools supplement the personnel base necessary for the creation of innovative economy. Under the TechOrda program, Kazakhstan residents can study in advanced private IT-schools under the voucher system. In the future, in order to improve the quality of education, the issues of allocation of vouchers for the training of teachers and the introduction of quality standards at IT-faculties will be worked out.

The Minister noted that in order to increase the export of Kazakhstan IT services, Silkroad hub representative offices will be opened in South-East Asia and the Middle East in the near future. Also for attraction of qualified specialists the project Digital Nomad Visa will be realized.

In parallel, the work on opening new technological hubs in the regions of the country will continue. To date, 9 sites have already been opened, by the end of the year it is planned to launch 4 more hubs.

It was noted that today 24 venture funds work in the market of Kazakhstan, which have already invested in startups $145 million. However, despite the growth in the number of venture agreements, there is a shortage of funds. In this regard, the Ministry together with market representatives will develop legislative initiatives that will remove restrictions in the venture capital industry.

At the same time, the development of the sphere of artificial intelligence will continue, the Caspian optical infrastructure and data processing centers meeting international standards will be put into operation. It is also planned to create a special economic zone for IT-investors.

During the meeting the akim of Karaganda region Yermaganbet Bulekpayev informed about the work of regional IT-hubs. In addition, Mirat Akhmetsadykov, head of the Most Hub private technopark, and Maksat Kadyrov, co-founder and technical director of the Kwaaka startup, made speeches.

Prime Minister emphasized that today IT-industry is one of the fastest growing in the world economy. Thus, according to experts, this year the volume of the global IT market will reach $4.5 trillion.

"In his Address, the Head of State set the task to bring the export of IT services to $1 billion by 2026. This is quite a realistic goal," Alikhan Smailov said.

He noted that in recent years Kazakhstan has made a significant leap in the development of the IT sector. Large global companies and investors are attracted. Favorable conditions for local startups are created.

"Only for 3 years the export of IT-services has increased 5 times. At the end of this year it can reach $500 million. IT-hubs and venture capital funds should become the main drivers in achieving this task," Prime Minister said.

Prime Minister also emphasized the need for training of highly qualified specialists in this industry. In this regard, it is required to further develop educational programs, to attract big business for this purpose.

"World trends are changing rapidly. To date, artificial intelligence neural networks are actively developing. Even today, many of them not only generate texts and create images, but also write programs several times faster than humans. According to a McKinsey study, by 2030, artificial intelligence will take over most routine operations. In this regard, it is necessary to properly build education and IT-infrastructure," Alikhan Smailov pointed out. 

According to him, Kazakhstan should strive to become a full member of the world IT-market. For this purpose it is necessary for each region to have its own IT-hub and modern IT-schools.

"There are successful examples. Regional IT-hubs and schools are functioning in Almaty and Karaganda region. It is necessary to scale their experience to other regions," Prime Minister emphasized. 

He added that there are also questions on the development of startup projects. In general, at the initial stage there is a whole line of support measures for them, but with the expansion of business there are problems with lack of capital and, as a consequence, the development of the project.

"Because of this, many of them remain at the project level. This hinders the development of the IT industry. The export potential of the industry is lost. Here it is necessary to involve big business, banks, venture funds and other instruments. We must use all available opportunities and resources," Alikhan Smailov said.

According to the head of the Government, IT-schools should be created for training and retraining of programmers, designers, engineers and other specialists of this sphere, the training program for IT-specialists should be made more flexible so that it could follow the world trends, as well as programs for exchange of students and experience, internships with leading universities should be established.

In conclusion, Prime Minister instructed to develop amendments to legislation to ensure the development of venture capital financing taking into account international experience and to provide approaches to financing startup projects at the expense of subsoil users' funds allocated for research and development.

#Alikhan Smailov #Digitalization #Government session

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