«Kazakhstan’s path to digital transformation, while
bumpy, should lead to dramatic change»
Digital technologies play an important role in today’s world, even more than 51 percent of the world population has access to the Internet. For instance, in 2015, the International Telecommunication Union estimated approximately 3.2 billion people, or almost half of the world’s population, have access to the web and Internet. Approximately two billion are from developing countries.
Digital technologies have a number of advantages, including simplifying public services, accelerating information exchange, assisting emerging business opportunities and creating new digital products.
Labour automation, robotics, artificial intelligence, big data exchange, 3D printing and virtual reality are innovative technologies that not only create new types of business, but can also provide positive impetus to traditional sectors of the economy.
The Kazakh government is executing the Digital Kazakhstan program, which aims to improve the competitiveness of the country’s economy and quality of life through progressive development of the digital ecosystem. That development will drive the economy, improve conditions for business dealings, raise the population’s level of digital literacy and improve the nation’s competitiveness.
Government program “Digital Kazakhstan" is a significant complex program, aiming on the elevation of living standards of each country's resident, using digital techniques. The major goals of the Program have accelerated economy growth of the Republic of Kazakhstan and have upgraded the living standards, as well as have created conditions for transition on a fundamentally new pathway – future digital economy. Program implementation will be carried out in the period of 2018-2022 in five key directions:
1. “Digitization of the economy branches – reorganization of the RK economy traditional branches using groundbreaking technologies and possibilities, which increase labour productivity and lead to the capitalization growth.
2. “Transition to the digital state" – state infrastructure transformation to provide services for population and business, anticipating their demands.
3. “Implementation of the Digital Silk Way" – development of a high speed and security infrastructure of the transfer, storage and processing of data.
4. “Evolution of the human capital assets" – transformational changes, comprising creative society formation and transition to the new realities – knowledge-based economy.
5. “Innovative ecosystem formation" – creation of the conditions for technological entrepreneurship development with stable relations between business, academic domain and state, as well as introduction of innovations into industry.
All the measures and projects, realized within the framework of the “Digital Kazakhstan" program will facilitate the efficiency and transparency of the government control, ensure local employment, improve the quality of education and healthcare service, as well as perfect the investment climate, increase labour efficiency and the growth of small and medium business shares in the structure of GDP.
Creating a Digital Silk Way will develop a reliable, affordable, high-speed, secure digital infrastructure. More than 1,200 of the country’s rural settlements will be provided with broadband access from 2018-2020. These initiatives include modernizing the satellite communication system and developing fiber-optic communication lines to remote settlements, as well as increasing transit capacity and the digital television and radio broadcasting network.
“To date, 190 million services have been provided on the egov.kz portal, where more than 6.8 million users are registered. Of the 746 total public services, 452 are automated. The mobile application is used by more than 3.3 million users and over 10 million services have been provided to them,” said Minister of National Economy Timur Suleimenov at a June 12 government meeting.
The country is striving to develop a creative society where individuals have competences and skills for the digital economy. Such a society needs to upgrade digital literacy and train specialists for different industries.
Developing human capital will be achieved by updating the education system in accordance with the world’s best practices. The government plans to revise secondary education programs to include introductions to robotics, virtual reality and 3D printing and organize training courses to provide the population with basic digital skills. Retraining personnel will allow citizens to meet high professional standards and remain in demand.
Digital transformation is required in all economic branches and the Kazakh economy needs to introduce widespread digital technology to enhance its competitiveness.
Using the economic digitizationprogram, the government plans to increase the level of labour productivity. The process will be aided by Digital Mine, an information system that will collect data through sensors installed on equipment, provide an optimal production process, monitor the consumption of reagents, reduce equipment downtime and quickly identify and eliminate extraordinary situations.
The final facet is forming a proactive digital government, one that improves electronic and mobile government systems and optimizes the public services supply. Electronic government reduces paperwork, increases citizens’ participation in governance and introduces Smart City technology.
Sergek, a system for monitoring adherence to traffic rules, has been introduced in Astana and is functioning. The program is expected to improve situations involving drivers and capital residents are seeing the results. If the system fixes the offense, the protocol is generated automatically and sent to the violator’s home address.
Such monitoring systems will be installed in all cities, including the smallest ones, where they will help decrease the level of crime and delinquency.
The government believes after specific tasks are identified and an innovative ecosystem created, the state will be digitally transformed. It is obvious, however, that supporting innovative development sites, promoting a technological entrepreneurship and start-up culture, attracting venture financing and forming a demand for innovation is really important.
Creating international IT start-up techno parks, such as Astana Hub, are a vivid example. The site is expected to enable domestic IT specialists and start-ups to begin developing their projects.
Another good example is Kazakhstan’s healthcare digitization, where 81.3 percent of medical personnel have computers or equipment with computers and Internet access reaches 55.6 percent of medical institution staff. The Ministry of Healthcare is creating an electronic health passport for each patient in the country, allowing the person’s entire medical history to be stored online.
“I am used to work with foreign customers and I observe the situation with digitization in Kazakhstan as an ordinary man, a Kazakh citizen. But, of course, my expertise and knowledge give me an opportunity to evaluate the situation as an expert,” noted IT expert KalibekTurgumbayev in an exclusive interview with EdgeKz.
“I would like to say that digitization is a very useful and right process initiated by the government. But as for me, it, as many other great projects, isn’t implemented smoothly. There are so many gaps. The IT industry itself is developing poorly in Kazakhstan. There is a lack of really good specialists. Many vendors are not worried about the quality of the product and end users,” he said.
“There are engineering practices such as unit testing, integration testing and other types of tests, as well as practices of continuous integration and delivery, which are simply not being observed in Kazakhstan. For example, if you need to repair your car, there is a set of tools and it is necessary to check sensors. But you have only pliers and hope to check a thing that is exactly three nanometers,” he added.
According to the forecasts of the world’s leading experts, by 2020, 25 percent of the global economy will be digital and introducing technologies to digitize the economy, allowing the state, business and society to interact effectively, is becoming an increasingly large and dynamic process.
Kazakhstan’s digitizationprogram certainly has some distance to go before it is fully implemented and begins to provide the benefits it is meant to provide. The country will need many years to achieve the required work experience and knowledge and improve its skills.
Despite the early stages and the inevitable drawbacks, the program has helped the country not only to develop, but possibly be more developed than it was before digitization. Kazakhstan’s path to digitization may be thorny, but it should be fruitful and the best thing is ordinary people will benefit from the process.
The informational and practical seminar «Digitization of Education System», organized by the SOE «Mechanics and Mathematics» Research Institute, Institute of Information Technologies and Innovative Development with the support of AIFC was held at Al-Farabi Kazakh National University. The guests of the event have visited the Situational Management Center of KazNU, the classrooms of the Higher School of Economics and Business, which are equipped with the latest technology and modern software. Scientists, professors, representatives of invited Companies have made presentations on the topic of digital transformation. During the practical session, a round table – the discussion platform entitled «Problems and Solutions to Automate Educational and Scientific Activities of the University» was held. The virtual laboratories, cloud learning system, electronic document circulation for the HEIs, automation services, and an open educational content are the main topics that were raised by speakers at the seminar. It is worth noting that all this awaits the education of Kazakhstan in the future. And digitalization, on which the active course is taken, is one of the leading trends in the process of reforming this sphere. During this seminar, which presents a unique information and practical platform, the topical issues of automating the processes of higher educational institutions have been addressed and the experts presented interesting reports on new educational technologies.
«Today we live in a digital society with a changing infrastructure. It is important to note that modern students have completely changed their attitude to the educational process, while Universities around the world have already switched to digital format of knowledge transfer. The generation «Z» is not ready to accept information on outmoded technology. Therefore, KazNU is very active in this direction», said Vice-Rector for Academic Affairs, Askar Khikmetov.
It is not a secret that the process of automating educational processes is somewhat slowed down here, teaching goes more difficult than the progress of the technologies themselves. Generally, it is one of the challenging and difficult things for nowadays world. Therefore, holding such seminars is necessary - in a working format, at practical sessions, experts share opinions, get answers to questions arising in the course of work.
The future of digital Kazakhstan is when every inhabitant of the country makes dozens of important manipulations with the help of a smartphone or a computer, without spending the most valuable resource on it - time. And this future starts today. And it starts from you!