Kazakhstan Expands GovTech Exports and Embraces Digital Nomads

ASTANA—During the Digital Almaty 2024 forum, which convened in February, Kazakhstan solidified its international outreach by signing multiple memorandums of understanding, particularly regarding the export of its government technology (GovTech).

Digital Almaty 2024 forum. Photo credit: gov.kz

Notable among these agreements is the extension of Kazakhstan’s IT solutions for e-government development, including Smart Bridge, the Unified Platform for Internet Resources of Government Agencies, and the Smart Data Ukimet information and analytical system to the Kyrgyz Republic. This move follows a similar initiative in December, where components of Kazakhstan’s e-government were exported to Tajikistan under a memorandum of cooperation. Furthermore, Kazakhstan entered into agreements on information and communication technology cooperation with Sierra Leone and Togo, showcasing its commitment to digital advancement on a global scale. In general, the country aims to bolster its export of digital products and services to $1 billion by 2026.

Embracing Digital Nomadism

In tandem with these efforts to export its technological expertise, Kazakhstan seeks to attract talent, particularly in the growing field of digital nomadism. President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev has underscored the significance of leveraging digitalization to its fullest potential in numerous public addresses. During an expanded government meeting in February, Tokayev reiterated this stance, emphasizing the need for Kazakhstan to position itself as a magnet for “digital nomads.”

Photo credit: freepik

“…It is necessary to launch a special Digital Nomad Residency program. We need to turn our country into a destination for digital nomads from all over the world,” he said.

Statistics from the Bureau of National Statistics of the Ministry of National Economy of Kazakhstan shed light on the migratory trends. In 2023 alone, more than 12,000 individuals over 15 years old relocated to Kazakhstan, with over 3,400 (29%) possessing technical education, including IT specialists. Conversely, over 7,700 people moved from Kazakhstan to other countries, with more than 2,200 (28.5%) having technical specialties.

Digital Nomad Residency Program

Magzhan Madiyev, the Astana Hub CEO, elucidated on Kazakhstan’s aspirations to become a hub for digital nomads and AI specialists, particularly by introducing the digital nomad visa in the interview to The Astana Times YouTube channel. Madiyev noted that the roots of this program lie within Astana Hub.

Magzhan Madiyev. Photo credit: The Astana Times.

“It’s one of the initiatives, which started at Astana hub. I could explain why. As I mentioned, talent acquisition is one of the main parts of our job. We realize that this is not easy for foreigners to come and stay in Kazakhstan for a while or for a long period of time. There are some restrictions and migration procedures. So we had some instructions from the Minister of Digital Development and the government to solve this bottleneck,” he said.

This initiative aligns with President Tokayev’s recent directive to initiate a Digital Nomad Residency program, reflecting Kazakhstan’s dedication to contemporary trends and its ambition to serve as a global hub for digital nomads and AI specialists.

Economic Attractiveness and Growing IT Sector

Becoming a magnet for digital nomads should be easy because Kazakhstan boasts an economically attractive environment, with a personal income tax rate half that of leading countries like Estonia, Mexico, and Georgia. The country has fostered favorable conditions for IT industry development, exemplified by the Astana Hub, offering an exclusive tax regime and government support that has attracted major technology companies, with investments exceeding $2.5 billion, including notable entities like Playrix, Mytona, NetCbreaker, and Ozon.

Photo credit: astanahub.com

With over 1,300 IT companies registered in Kazakhstan, including 390 with foreign participation, the country has seen substantial investments and revenue growth in the sector. These companies employ approximately 5,000 foreign workers, indicating a growing interest in Kazakhstan as a destination for IT talent.

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