Unlocking Kazakhstan’s Digital Potential: Key Insights from Digital Bridge Forum

ASTANA – Digital Bridge international technology forum’s panel session, Kazakhstan – IT country, on Oct. 12, addressed the country’s achievements in IT, its focus on digital transformation, and the role of collaboration, education, and innovation in advancing the IT sector.

Digital Bridge international technology forum’s panel session Kazakhstan – IT country. Photo credit: The Astana Times.

Addressing the panel session, Bagdat Mussin, the Minister of Digital Development, Innovation, and Aerospace Industry, outlined the two key components defining the IT country.

“The first component involves making the state truly digital, ensuring that all services and government functions are not only available online but also provided proactively. The second component involves building a sustainable IT industry to fuel the country’s economic growth,” he said. 

Mussin emphasized the state’s digital progress, highlighting innovations such as the e-government mobile application, which stores personal data, facilitates the issuance of documents, and even enables car transactions with a single click.

He also shared a future vision where securing employment will not require extensive document collection. Instead, a single QR code will enable individuals to secure a job and sign an employment contract.

Mussin announced a partnership with SpaceX to bring Starlink connectivity to remote areas, ensuring 2,000 schools are internet-enabled.

Photo credit: Kazakh Ministry of Digital Development, Innovation, and Aerospace Industry.

“Investing in human capital is crucial for the IT industry, as each IT specialist indirectly creates five jobs in related fields,” he said.

Minister of Science and Higher Education Sayasat Nurbek echoed the focus on human capital. He outlined initiatives to nurture qualified human resources and create specialized universities focusing on artificial intelligence (AI).

“We are establishing the first of these specialized AI schools in Kyzylorda, where a comprehensive seven-year program has been formalized through a partnership with Seoul National University of Science and Technology. We are in the process of finalizing an agreement with the City University of Hong Kong and Satbayev University in Almaty for the establishment of a second AI school. Plans for the third institution are underway,” he said.

Nurbek also emphasized the importance of AI literacy for every student. He highlighted the launch of an AI-Literacy program, implemented in a pilot phase across 14 universities with the support of Google. Based on the pilot results, the program is set to become a mandatory course at all higher educational institutions. 

The goal is to ensure that every student possesses a fundamental understanding of AI, its practical applications, and the utilization of machine learning algorithms within their respective fields of study, regardless of their specialization.

Mikhail Lomtadze, CEO and co-founder of Kaspi.kz, spotlighted innovative IT services within Kazakhstan, such as instant banking card printing within 45 seconds.

Despite the global IT ranking, where Kazakhstan currently ranks 86th, Lomtadze expressed confidence that the country is a leading IT player and urged collaborative efforts between innovation companies and the government to enhance global recognition.

Freedom Holding Corporation CEO Timur Turlov supported Lomtadze’s initiatives, saying that Kazakhstan is an “underrated IT country.”

He emphasized the ease of integration between the financial market, the IT sector, and the government as a catalyst for trust-building and success.

According to Christina Doros, vice president and regional manager for Central Asia and Azerbaijan at Visa, Kazakhstan is truly advancing to a distinctive level in payment technology development. The technologies introduced in the country are groundbreaking, not only within the Central Asian region but on a global scale, especially concerning payment enhancements. 

“We are enthusiastic about supporting startup competition initiatives which provide significant opportunities for startups to enhance their capabilities and enter the international market. The growth of IT startups, even though they may be smaller in scale, represents a powerful force that can drive the entire economy forward,” she said.   

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