Kazakh President reshuffles government, appoints new ministers of foreign affairs, defence and aerospace industries, and industry and infrastructure development

ASTANA – In a reshuffle aimed at strengthening the investment attraction and export promotion efforts of the Kazakh government, President Nursultan Nazarbayev reorganised three ministries and appointed new ministers through a string of presidential decrees Dec. 26.

Photo credit: primeminister.kz.

Nazarbayev significantly strengthened the economic diplomacy credentials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs by giving it oversight over the work on attracting foreign investment and promoting Kazakh exports abroad, taking away these responsibilities from the reformed Ministry for Investment and Development.

He appointed Beibut Atamkulov as Minister of Foreign Affairs, Askar Zhumagaliyev as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence and Aerospace Industry and Zhenis Kassymbek as Minister of Industry and Infrastructure Development.

Nazarbayev relieved former Foreign Minister Kairat Abdrakhmanov of his responsibilities due to his transfer to another job, as yet unannounced. The new Minister of Foreign Affairs Atamkulov was transferred from his former position as the Minister of Defence and Aerospace Industry.

Kassymbek was appointed to lead a newly revamped Ministry of Industry and Infrastructure Development, into which the Ministry for Investment and Development was transformed. Some of the former ministry’s functions were transferred to the Ministry of National Economy and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Beibut Atamkulov. Photo credit: kazcosmos.gov.kz.

Atamkulov was born in the Alma-Ata region in 1964. In 1986, he graduated from the Kazakh Polytechnic Institute, receiving the profession of engineer-metallurgist. In 2000, he graduated from the St. Petersburg State University of Economics and Finance and received a degree of Candidate of Economic Sciences (similar to PhD).

In 1986, he started working in the Shymkent Lead Plant as a smelter, senior engineer. From 1991 to 1995, he worked in the Ministry of Foreign Economic Relations, and served as the Republican Foreign Economic Enterprise Kazmetalllexport’s organisation Chermeteksport’s Chief Specialist and Director, and as the first deputy director at the Kazakhstan Sauda foreign trade company.

During the following two years, he worked as the Karaganda Metallurgical Plant’s First Deputy Director. From 1996 to 2002, he was the Rakhat Metals President. Over the next four years, he was the Rakhat Companies Group’s president and chairman of the board.

Since 2006, he worked in the diplomatic service. He was a minister-counsellor at the Kazakh Embassy in Russia and Iran. From 2008 to 2010, he worked as the Kazakh Consul General in Frankfurt am Main. For two years, he served as the Kazakh Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Malaysia, as well as to Indonesia, Brunei and the Philippines concurrently.

From 2012 to 2014, Atamkulov was the Executive Secretary of the Ministry of Industry and New Technologies, after which he was at the same position in the Investment and Development Ministry. Since August 2015, he has been the South Kazakhstan region’s Akim (governor). His last position was the Defence and Aerospace Industry Minister, which he led from 2016.

Askar Zhumagaliyev. Photo credit: tengrinews.kz.

The new Defence and Aerospace Industry Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Zhumagaliev was born in 1972 in the Orenburg region, Russia. He graduated from the Sverdlovsk Suvorov Military School and studied at the Kharkov Higher Military Command Engineering School of Rocket Forces. In 1992, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, he transferred to the Kazakh National Technical University in Almaty, graduating with a degree in radio communications, broadcasting and television. He received a second bachelor degree in jurisprudence from the Kazakh Humanitarian Law University and a master’s degree in e-government from the Federal Polytechnic School of Lausanne.

From 2006 to 2010, he was the chair of the board of Kazakhtelecom national telecommunications company, when he worked on the introduction of new communication technologies and the barrier-free customer service principle. From 2010 to 2012, he worked as the Minister for Communications and Information. During his work, he launched 3G services, digital satellite and terrestrial television. He also developed the e-government portal and large-scale modernisation and automation of the Public Service Centres (PSC).

Since 2012, he was the Minister of Transport and Communications. During his work, specialised public service centres for car owners were opened, standards for providing services in the transport industry were developed, 4G network was launched, tariffs for communication services were reduced and automation of public services was carried out.

In 2014, he became the Chairman of the Agency for Communications and Information. Later the same year, he was appointed as Vice Minister for Investments and Development. Before being appointed to his new position, he was the chairman of the board of Kazatomprom national atomic company since 2015.

Zhenis Kassymbek. Photo credit: informburo.kz.

The new Minister of Industry and Infrastructure Development Kassymbek was born in 1975 in the Zhambyl region. He graduated from the Kazakh Leading Academy of Architecture and Civil Engineering in Almaty with a degree in architecture and design. He also studied at the Gumilyov Eurasian National University in Astana graduating with a degree in economy and earning the Candidate of Economic Sciences degree.

Over the years, Kassymbek worked as the Head of the Department of Railway Transport and Ports of the Agency for Regulation of Natural Monopolies and Protection of Competition, Head of Coordination and Tariff Policy Department, and Director of the Water Transport Department of the Ministry of Transport and Communications. He also led the Aktau International Seaport.

In 2005, he was the Vice Minister of Transport and Communications. In 2009, he became the Executive Secretary of the Ministry of Transport and Communications. After five years, he headed the ministry. Since August 2014, he became the First Vice Minister of the Ministry of Investment and Development. Before being appointed to his new position, Kassymbek served as the Minister for Investment and Development since 2016.