New Book Looks at What It Will Take Kazakhstan to Reach 2050 Goals

BookASTANA – “Kazakhstan 2050: Toward a Modern Society for All,” a seminal 400-page book about the projected trajectory of development of Kazakhstan’s economy and society, was presented at the May 2-5 47th Annual Meeting of the Board of Governors of the Asian Development Bank in Astana. Prime Minister of Kazakhstan Karim Massimov and a group of international experts and authors, including Shigeo Katsu, rector of the Nazarbayev University and Dr. Johannes Linn, senior resident fellow, emerging markets forum, and former vice president of the World Bank attended the book launch on May 2.

Both Katsu and Linn were listed as editors of the new book along with two other experts. Eight prominent Kazakh and international experts became its authors. The book was written and published in English and Russian through a grant from Nazarbayev University. It was published by Oxford University Press.

In his December 2012 state-of-the-nation address, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev set an ambitious vision for the Kazakhstan of 2050, the overriding goal of which was for the country to join the world’s 30 most developed nations by 2050.

“In the 21st century, it is more important than ever to be open to new ideas and influences and to create a society where all can prosper,” Massimov said in his remarks.

“Kazakhstan has made great progress in the past 22 years; however, there is much more progress to make. We know that we must continue to build the middle class and strengthen our institutions,” he added.

“Kazakhstan 2050 seeks to accelerate the current force of reform and modernisation and aims to propel Kazakhstan into the 30 industrialised and developed nations in the world,” he said. “With high ambition comes high responsibility. There are many challenges and difficulties that lie ahead of us.”

Kazakhstan has seen a major economic boost and has established itself as one of the economic leaders in the region and one of the most successful post-Soviet countries. High economic growth has drastically brought down poverty and unemployment since 2001; however, it also faces risks from the international environment and challenges internally in the country.

The book aims to demonstrate the feasibility of this long-term vision and the strategy to implement and execute this programme. It also describes key priorities for the nation on its path and the actions that would facilitate the realisation of the goals.

These include:

– An efficient energy sector, and the actions that need to be undertaken are to set energy sector targets aiming at efficiency and sustainability, also establish Super ESCOs and a renewable energy fund;

– Green growth – recommended actions include introducing carbon taxation and annual review of regulations, expanding and improving management of natural reserves, introducing no-net-loss provision of biodiversity generally and also allowing GMOs, as well as advancing industrial waste management;

– Balanced and decentralised urban and regional development – recommended actions include upgrading urban services, limiting car use in cities, investing in ICT connectivity, clarifying and rebalancing revenue and expenditure responsibilities of sub-national authorities and introducing a sub-national development fund;

– A diversified, modern knowledge economy. Actions here include ensuring selectivity in government support for priority areas, attracting or buying into foreign firms, developing research universities;

– Regional and global economic cooperation and integration. Steps recommended in this area include joining the World Trade Centre (WTO) and assuring “open” Customs Union, providing leadership on Central Asian cooperation, developing hard and soft transit infrastructure;

– The development of resilient and transparent economic and political institutions. Recommended steps include reversing increasing trend of state involvement in the economy, implementing anti-corruption action, promoting accountability, transparency, civil society, and rule of law.

Above all else, the book advocates for the development of human resources as the most critical component of success with focus on quality improvement and implementation, introduction of targeted early childhood development programme, scaling up school and university reforms and promoting preventive medicine.

According to book authors, the global economy remains fragile and such important neighbours as Russia, China and partners as Japan, the U.S. and Europe may face economic stagnation leading to the drop in prices for oil and gas. There is also potential for conflict and political instability in the regions to the south of Kazakhstan.

“[Kazakhstan needs] to avoid getting mired in the ‘middle-income-trap,’ which has become the bane of so many countries at the same stage of development at which Kazakhstan is currently,” the authors of the book wrote.

In addition to Massimov, Katsu and Linn, the panel speakers included Harinder Kohli and president of the Centennial Group, and the President of the Asian Development Bank Takehiko Nakao.