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Country focus: Azerbaijan
Building a knowledge economy
 
 
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Photo credit: © MCIT/Azerbaijan
BakuTel exhibition in 2009

How BakuTel is shaping the ICT sector in Azerbaijan

The development of the information and communication technology (ICT) sector has recently rocketed in Azerbaijan, boosting both the economy and the process of establishing an information society in the country. Happily, the global financial and economic crisis has left practically no trace on the development of the ICT sector, which today is second only to the energy sector in the national economy.

Reflecting the growing interest in the ICT sector, Azerbaijan will host BakuTel on 3–6 November 2010, the 16th Azerbaijan International Exhibition and Conference on Telecommunication and Information Technologies. This will be an opportunity to demonstrate the newest solutions and the most advanced technologies, and the event will bring together Azerbaijan’s old and new partners from the global scientific and business communities.

With globalization, and the integration of Azerbaijan into the world community, it is a must to organize international ICT exhibitions in the country. Such events allow the international community to get to know the private companies and public organizations that are players in the Azerbaijan ICT market. And because BakuTel attracts leading businesses from the global ICT market, it opens up investment horizons in the ICT sector of Azerbaijan.

“Information and communication technologies will play a very important role in our future development because scientific and technical progress all over the world will evolve in this direction,” says Ilham Aliyev, President of Azerbaijan. BakuTel mirrors industry trends. It identifies new markets for ICT business development, both in Azerbaijan and in the region. It is a good arena in which to look for new partners and customers. The 15th anniversary of the BakuTel Exhibition and Conference on Telecommunication and Information Technologies, celebrated in 2009, demonstrated the sustainability of ICT in Azerbaijan during the global financial crisis. This event attracted more than 800 companies from 26 countries.

The growth of BakuTel in 2009 by 5 per cent demonstrates its success, which obviously correlates with the dynamics of ICT development in Azerbaijan. A distinguishing feature of the 2009 exhibition was the number of presentations of new products and services. Indeed, 35 per cent of participants claimed that they were presenting innovations.

The Ministry of Communications and Information Technologies of Azerbaijan presented several hightech, socially valuable and economically feasible projects, including the transition to digital television, the modernization of postal services to incorporate the provision of banking services, and the modernization of telecommunication infrastructure on the basis of next-generation networks.

The exhibition showcased the design of the first national telecommunication satellite, scheduled to launch in June 2012. There were also demonstrations of e-signature, e-document and e-health projects, as well as Internet coverage of schools, which was showcased through connecting with one of the schools via videoconferencing.

BakuTel has become a venue for the whole industry, acting as a catalyst to promote new contacts and further cooperation. More than 10 000 specialists attend the exhibition annually. Many companies have established their businesses in Azerbaijan by making contacts at BakuTel. Today these companies are actively involved, either through their representative offices or through partners’ networks. Industry professionals and the younger generation enjoy the flow of new ideas and know-how. The first demonstration of third-generation (3G) mobile technologies in Azerbaijan was at BakuTel. And mobile operators deployed 3G at the end of 2009.

The National Computer project, successfully launched in 2009, is one of the most socially valuable outcomes of BakuTel. This joint project, bringing together Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Communications and Information Technologies, the Ministry of Education, and the companies HP and Microsoft, is the first step towards mass computerization in the country.

BakuTel traditionally also hosts a conference highlighting national and regional issues. The topics include problems in telecommunications, fixed line and mobile services, and the introduction of new technologies. One of the sessions in 2009 covered perspectives for the use of nano materials in medicine and electronics. The information provided on the first results obtained in the area of nano tubes and light diodes by the Scientific Research Center of High Technologies of Azerbaijan, in close cooperation with the Japanese and German colleagues, impressed the audience.

Trans-Eurasian Information Super Highway

One of the highlights of the 2009 BakuTel exhibition was the presentation of the first telephone-based translator. This is a new technology, developed within the framework of the “Dilmanc” project, an Azerbaijani system of machine translation. The technology makes possible the automatic translation of telephone conversations from Azerbaijani into English and vice versa. In the context of multicultural contacts, it is worth mentioning the high level of attention drawn to the Trans-Eurasian Information Super Highway initiative, the aim of which is to expand low cost high-speed Internet access and bridge the digital divide between East and West.

Planned to be completed in 2012 and to cover more than 20 countries in the region, the fibre-optic super highway project is being implemented as part of Action Line C2 (“information and communication infrastructure”) of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) and United Nations Millennium Development Goal 8 (“develop a global partnership for development”).

On 21 December 2009, the UN General Assembly at its 66th session backed this initiative by adopting a resolution entitled “Building connectivity through the Trans-Eurasian Information Super Highway”.

The resolution recognizes that “information and communication technologies have the potential to provide new solutions to development challenges, particularly in the context of globalization, and can foster economic growth, competitiveness, access to information and knowledge, poverty eradication and social inclusion that will help to expedite the integration of all countries, particularly developing countries, into the global economy.” It also recognizes “the immense potential that building connectivity can have in contributing to social progress, including in advancing the status of women and promoting social integration and tolerance”.

It goes on to stress the importance of strengthened and continued cooperation among all stakeholders to build and run information infrastructure, and encourages interested Member States to participate in the development of regional connectivity solutions. Finally, the resolution “recognizes the need to build connectivity in the region to help to bridge the digital divide, and in this regard welcomes the Trans-Eurasian Information Super Highway initiative and the readiness of the Republic of Azerbaijan to coordinate regional efforts aimed at realizing this initiative.”

Presidential and global support

For the past four years, BakuTel has been held under the patronage of the President Ilham Aliyev. The President attended the exhibition in person in 2007 and 2009, reflecting the great interest of the State in ICT development. Participants in the exhibition have an opportunity to demonstrate their capacities and achievements directly to the Head of State, and this stimulates further activities. The President himself sets aside time to receive high-level participants and guests of the exhibition, signalling the priority accorded to the development of the ICT sector in Azerbaijan.

BakuTel also enjoys the support of the United Nations, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), and the Regional Commonwealth in the field of Communications (RCC), among others. The support of Dr Hamadoun I. Touré, Secretary-General of ITU, is particularly important to BakuTel. His participation in the exhibition in 2007 and again in 2009, as well as his talk and his press interview, helped to cement relations between Azerbaijan and ITU. Dr Touré held meetings with Azerbaijani officials and representatives of Azerbaijani companies, as well as with participants representing other countries. During his visits to Azerbaijan, Dr Touré was received by President Ilham Aliyev and their talks focused on ICT development issues. “I am very pleased to see that the BakuTel exhibition has passed the test of time, and is carrying on with its important mission every year”, Dr Touré said.

 
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Photo credit: © MCIT/Azerbaijan
From the right: ITU Secretary-General Dr Hamadoun I. Touré; Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev and; Azerbaijan’s Minister of Communications and Information Technologies Ali Abbasov, visiting BakuTel exhibition in 2009

 

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