Kazakhstan to be largest regional player in IT market

Astana Hub has become the only partner of Google for Startups in the Central Asian region. This was announced by the Minister of Digital Development, Innovation and Aerospace Industry Bagdat Mussin at the Government session, where the issues of implementation of priority directions of IT-industry development were considered. 

According to the best world practice, the IT sphere consists of main sections. An important role is given to the development of human capital, creation of a unified innovation ecosystem, dissemination of Astana Hub experience in the regions. 

Bagdat Mussin noted that the driving force of the startup industry is the support of venture capital funds. In recent years, as a result of proactive government policy, there has been a sharp increase in interest in this area. 

The number of students at IT faculties in higher educational institutions is increasing. Modern IT schools supplement the personnel base necessary for the creation of innovative economy. A policy of distributing such schools across the regions of the country is being implemented.

"As part of the TechOrda program, we have considered the possibility of training in advanced private IT schools under a voucher system for Kazakhstani citizens wishing to learn a profession. Under this project, citizens are given the key to changing their destiny, as well as changing their professional direction. For example, currently under the program 2 thousand people have mastered the IT profession and received the opportunity of employment with a salary of 500 thousand tenge," Bagdat Mussin said.

According to the Minister, cooperation with international partners will also have a positive impact on the development of human capital of the country. The agency intends to team up with giant companies such as EPAM, Binance, Google, Huawei, Cisco and distribute training courses such as Coursera. 

Bagdat Mussin expressed his gratitude to the Ministry of Science and Higher Education for supporting the work in this direction. To strengthen this trend, the same mechanism for IT teacher training will be introduced from December 1.

Kazakhstan has started work on introduction of appropriate quality standards for IT faculties. Together with the Ministry of Science and Higher Education, a corresponding audit of IT faculties in regional educational institutions will be conducted. In order to intensify this work, local akimats need to support IT project schools in the regions and work closely with business.

There are more than 16 thousand IT companies in the country, and more than 180 thousand specialists work in the sphere. The volume of salaries is also growing rapidly, for the year it increased by about 100 thousand tenge. The positive dynamics shows the possibility of further growth. This, in turn, has become one of the most attractive areas of the IT industry, the minister believes.

Also the promotion and development of sports programming will have a great impact on the development of the IT industry. To this end, an application has been submitted to hold the World Championship on Sports Programming in Astana.

"The Head of State has set a goal to bring IT exports to $1 billion by 2026. Last year, IT exports grew 5 times and amounted to $334 million, including $153 million by Astana Hub participants. This is an indicator that our digital products are competitive in the international arena," Mussin said.

Astana Hub has become the only partner of Google for Startups in the Central Asian region. Thus, Kazakhstan becomes the largest regional IT player.

In addition, the volume of investments in the IT sphere is growing, and startups are entering Silicon Valley acceleration. Together with Baiterek Holding, specific measures have been developed to stimulate the introduction of domestic IT products. 

On September 15 this year, Silkroad Innovation Hub will be opened to support and promote startups of the member countries of Central Asia and Turkic states.

In order to attract IT specialists, the Digital Nomad Visa project will be implemented. Today the state policy is aimed at laying the foundation of the IT-industry. The number of residents of Astana Hub, which has become the main institution for the development of the IT ecosystem, has exceeded 1200, the number of foreign companies has reached 319. 

The revenues of Astana Hub participants for the first half of 2023 amounted to 162.32 billion tenge, and the amount of attracted investments amounted to 31.82 billion tenge. 

The Ministry has started to spread the Astana Hub brand in the regions by opening and supporting technology hubs. To date, 9 IT hubs have been opened, and 4 more will open this year. Akimats are requested to legislatively approve the requirement of financial and infrastructural support for regional hubs.

The IT startup industry is working on attracting venture capital funds to meet the financial demand. There are 24 venture capital funds in the market, the volume of investments amounted to $145 million. However, despite the growth of venture agreements in the market, the funding deficit is about $100 million. In this regard, the Ministry together with market representatives will develop legislative initiatives to remove restrictions in the venture capital industry. 

In his Address, the President emphasized the need to pay special attention to the development of artificial intelligence. Two main issues are planned to be addressed for this purpose. The Government's SmartData project brings together major databases to make them available to government agencies and scientists, universities and IT companies so that they can create appropriate models for their needs on the basis of this data. In other words, it is about providing big-data.

The data provided to domestic companies for artificial intelligence modeling will be made available in an impersonal form. That is, the market will be provided with data and computing power. But this capability will only be available to domestic IT companies that have taken the appropriate responsibility and commitment.

The Ministry expects that as a result, the number of domestic startups in the field of artificial intelligence will grow and market competition will emerge.

#Digitalization #Government session

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