Development and growth in the modern age is directly associated with the application of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT). At present, the level of application of ICT is among the main indicators of intellectual and scientific potential, transparency in the public administration, solution of social and economic problems. ICTs are playing an increasingly important role in the achievement of Millennium Development Goals as a powerful tool to fight poverty, empower women, increase the education level, and improve environmental management.
Government of Azerbaijan pays special attention to the development of information technologies. Azerbaijan's National ICT Strategy (2003-2012) has promoted a widening use of ICT tools to raise efficiency and transparency in the public sector, and recognizes innovation as one of the underlying principles for ICT application. Azerbaijan is also well-known regionally and internationally for its promotion of information society as a national development priority. The country hosted 7th Internet Governance Forum in 2012 and declared 2013 the Year of Information and Communications Technologies.
Concerted national efforts invested by the Government of Azerbaijan have enabled the country to become one of the best performers among the CIS countries (2012 Global Technology Report, World Economic Forum). The ICT sector grew twice in size on average span of every 3 years covering the period of 2004-2013. The Republic of Azerbaijan is a leader among CIS countries for the density of Internet users during the last three years. In 2012 this figure increased from 65 % to 70%. Likewise, the quality of internet services as well as external internet connectivity increased by 2.2 times in 2012 and prices reduced by approximately 35% compared to 2011 (Source: World Economic Forum).
It is imperative that Azerbaijan builds upon this momentum by making it more sustainable through development of a comprehensive ICT strategy, a broader access through country-wide ICT infrastructure, promotion of ICT integration in business, and greater use of ICTs for social and economic impact.
This project will contribute to the improvements of above listed dimensions of ICT environment by supporting the Government in pursuing the following goals:
- Develop a comprehensive national ICT strategy;
- Enhance country-wide ICT infrastructure through expansion and modernization of AzDATACOM network;
- Promote ICT integration in business through establishment of Public Private Partnership Specialist Centre on ICT Use;
- Maximize use of ICTs for greater social and economic impact at the national and regional levels by expanding citizens’ opportunities for e-participation;
- Giving access to Open Government Data;
- Initiating Eurasian Connectivity Alliance to bridge the ‘digital divide’;
- Operational infrastructure for the Data Center in Azerbaijan is established.
Project activities include the following 7 components:
- Development of National ICT Strategy (2013-2020): This strategy's component aims to ensure the development of new National ICT Strategy for 2013-2020 as the first “National Information and Communication Technologies Strategy for the development of the Republic of Azerbaijan (2003-2012)” has expired. Given the fact that the Azerbaijani Government places particular emphasis on the role of ICTs and their use in government, business and society as an engine of growth and development and that ICT is also among the priorities of the long-term national development strategy Azerbaijan Vision 2020 there is a pressing need to develop the new strategy, that will enable Azerbaijan to further strengthen its leading position in the ICT domain.
- Expansion and upgrade of AzDataCom network: Implementation of “Expansion and upgrade of AzDataCom network” component will assist to provide innovative Internet access, VoIP and multimedia services with greater speed to its Internet users in regions.
- Establishment of Public Private Partnership Specialist Centre on ICT/Broadband: Within the framework of the “Establishment of Public Private Partnership Specialist Centre on ICT/Broadband” component the establishment of the International PPP (public private partnership) Specialist Centre will allow to provide national readiness assessments and reports in PPPs, sub-regional and national capacity-building and knowledge sharing conferences and workshops on policies for promoting efficient PPPs.
- Building of national capacities for e-participation: “Building of national capacities for e-Participation” component is aimed to strengthen the capacity of Azerbaijan and the regional developing countries to apply ICTs for engaging citizens through e-participation.
- Awareness raising on Open Government data: The component of “Awareness raising on Open Government Data” (OGD) directs towards strengthening the participants’ capacity in policy and program formulation, implementation and evaluation of open government data initiatives, as well as accelerating participants’ learning on implementation of legislation concerning open government data.
- Establishment of operational framework for EurACA: Trans-Eurasian Information Super Highway (TASIM) project aims to lay transnational fiber-optic line covering the countries of Eurasia from Western Europe to Eastern Asia. The Project primarily envisages the establishment of the Eurasian Connectivity Alliance (EurACA) for making contribution to the development of telecommunication transit routes in the region and improving the coordination between the governments, private sector, civil society and international development institutions. “Establishment of operational framework for EurACA” component will support development of legislative and institutional framework, funding and partnership arrangements for the EurACA, that will perform the functions of the Steering Body for the Super Highway Project and will provide a forum for policy discussions and agreed actions for the governments, private sector, civil society from the region, as well as international development institutions interested in supporting the initiative.
- Establishment of the Data Center in Azerbaijan: The Data Center is envisaged to be established in Azerbaijan within this project component and its main purpose is to turn Azerbaijan into a world class Information Hub. The functioning of the Data Center that has TIER III reliability level (99.982%) and supports TIA-942 Telecommunication Infrastructure Standard (the standard includes: stand-by cooling, stand-by billing, stand-by power, stand-by network links, etc.) as a “Telehouse” will enable the international operators to implement trafficking and data exchange operations by using resources of the Center. The implementation of this infrastructure component that combines these technological innovations will have an impact on economic growth turning Azerbaijan into a transit hub of information exchange between Europe and Asia. Besides, the Data Center will guarantee information security of telecommunication operators, businesses and IT companies by meeting ISO/IEC-27001 Standard regarding the information security.