Photo: MTCHT Azerbaijan

As prepared for delivery

Dear Mr. Ramin Guluzade, Minister of Transport, Communications and High Technologies

Ms. Natalia Mochu, ITU Regional Director for the CIS

Distinguished guests, ladies & gentlemen

It is an honor to join you today at the opening of Cyberweek 2020, which tackles one of the most burning challenges of our digital economy and our modern era – Cyber Security.

Today, over half the world’s population are online, with almost a million people using the Internet for the first time each day.

Technology holds the potential to make breakthrough advances in areas like healthcare, education, agriculture, energy and mobility.

Artificial intelligence is already supporting better diagnostics in healthcare, satellite imagery is helping to combat deforestation and drones are mapping areas at risk of disasters.

And technology will play a major role in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, the world’s agenda for a sustainable future.

But the benefits of cyberspace have not come without risks – one of which takes the form of relentless and dangerous attacks on networks, systems and programmes.

Cyberattacks are growing in frequency, complexity and scale, posing a threat to personal and business data, the functioning of vital services and the growth of digital economy.

Many governments and companies around the world are spearheading a range of initiatives to train up and involve more people in tackling the challenge of ensuring cybersecurity.

Such training is urgently needed to address the severe skills gap in cybersecurity capacity.

A new report predicts that there will be around 3.5 million unfilled cybersecurity positions by 2021. The rapid expansion of the digital marketplace has generated more demand for jobs in cybersecurity and other ICT areas than can be met by the current supply of professionals.

To address this skills gap we need to:

 

1) Reimagine education to close the digital skills gap in the future workforce.

For example, by funding STEM labs in schools – digital life begins in early childhood and so should cybersecurity education.

To mention our own efforts here, last year, the Ministry and UNDP helped establish the first RoboLab in Baku’s secondary school #23 to help children master Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. The feedback from children, parents and teachers has been very positive, so why not invest in more of these?

2) We need to put inclusivity at our digital core to leave no one behind.

We need to lay the foundations of an inclusive and secure digital economy for all.

People who lack access to digital technologies are overwhelmingly from groups who are already marginalised: the poor, the elderly and those with disabilities.

ICT programmes and lifelong learning must become more accessible. If people do not have the right skills to find work, they not be included in the future digital economy.

Special attention needs to be paid to encouraging women to participate in these programmes as women are significantly underrepresented in the ICT and cybersecurity industry. Only 28% of them in the Europe and Central Asia region.

Youth and digital skills are a growing priority for UNDP and the Government. For a second year in a row over 50 young people from Azerbaijan and other countries will participate at the Youth Internet Governance Forum (4th March 2020) organized by the Ministry of Transport, Communications and High Technologies, the Youth Foundation of Azerbaijan and the UNDP Azerbaijan CO. The main objective of this forum, organized during Cyber Week 2020, is to provide an open platform for youth to discuss and exchange ideas about internet governance issues and cybersecurity with government representatives, civil society the private sector and experts.

We need policies and investments that will enable people to use technology to build better lives and a more trusting world.

Bridging the digital divide will be critical to ensuring an inclusive, trustworthy and safe digital economy.

 

Ladies and gentlemen,

I would also like to use this opportunity to say a few words about UNDP’s excellent partnership with the Ministry of Transport, Communications and High Technologies in Azerbaijan.

It has a long history.

Fifteen years ago we started an initiative aiming revolutionize the ICT sector in this country.

Today, nearly 80% of the population in Azerbaijan is connected to the internet.

We have been working closely together to extend the reach of ICT by expanding the AzDataCom network to the most remote parts of the country and bringing internet to almost every home – every woman, man and child.

We have also helped develop two national ICT strategies and establish the country’s first ever Data Centre to improve information security for telecommunications operators, businesses and IT companies, providing great opportunities for strengthening the competitiveness of Azerbaijan at regional and international level.

We are currently supporting the construction of a second secure data storage facility that should be up and running by the end of this year.

This will open up new opportunities for businesses and tech start-ups and ensure that cloud technologies and artificial intelligence are used in the best interests of the country’s citizens.

In parallel, we are supporting national efforts to build the innovation start-up ecosystem by organizing regular ‘Idea to Business’ contests and generating local, national and regional networking opportunities for governments, tech companies, industries, civil society and researchers and finding new ways of working and boosting the digital economy.

In two days from now, together with the Ministry, ADA University and Azerbaijani’s Youth Foundation we will be hosting the second Youth Internet Governance Forum.

This is part of our joint commitment to providing opportunities for digitally-savvy young women and men in Azerbaijan to get a seat at the decision-making table and help shape an inclusive and safe cyber world of tomorrow.

 

Cybersecurity is not just the responsibility of governments, companies, groups, or select individuals. We all share the responsibility for it – from the average smartphone user to a corporate CEO.

Cyberweek 2020 is an excellent opportunity for decision makers, communities, entrepreneurs, learners and teachers to disrupt old ways of doing business, influence the new generation of governance and digital economy and make sure that no one is left behind.

So let’s make the best of it.

Thank you.

So let's continue to work together to ensure that the cyberspace is a safe place that leaves no one behind.

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