Bishkek, 17 June 2021 – Today Mirjana Spoljaric Egger, Assistant UN Secretary-General, Director of the UNDP Regional Bureau for Europe and the CIS, together with Dastan Dogoev, Deputy Chair of the Cabinet of Ministers, Minister of Digital Development, co-hosted a high-level dialogue on Digital Transformation in partnership with the World Bank and the University of Central Asia.

Representatives from government bodies, development partners, the private sector, civil society and academia discussed how technologies and innovation could be pursued in the Kyrgyz Republic to facilitate its integration into the fast-moving modernization of the global economy, and allow Kyrgyzstanis and local businesses to be more competitive, including in global markets.

Digital technology is one of the most fundamental drivers of change of this century, reshaping economies, government and civil society, and the ways in which they interact. Digital technologies offer immense potential for accelerating progress towards the SDGs. They can provide services to the most vulnerable, for example through digital public services, and provide opportunities for economic development including through entrepreneurship and innovation. The COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing reliance on digital technologies exposed the opportunities, importance and urgency of adopting digitalization in all sectors of the economy.

In her keynote speech, Ms. Spoljaric Egger said: "The pandemic highlighted the need for stronger digital connectivity, particularly in ensuring the continuity and delivery of core government functions. ICT and digital tools were in high demand during this crisis, and helped not only to restore access to information and education during the stay-at-home orders, but also transformed the way the government communicates with people about prevention and quarantine measures. They also contributed to accelerating new services such as telemedicine, digital payments, telework and tele-schooling, mobilizing local communities, volunteers and CSOs to make charities for people in need."

Digitalisation is central to the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and economic development around the world. Concomitantly, digitalization and technological development have been declared a priority direction by the Kyrgyz government, and steps are being made to ensure that this new future is inclusive for people of all genders and backgrounds.

According to Ms. Spoljaric Egger, innovative progress can happen rapidly only when all the relevant players are involved: private sector represented by tech professionals, scientists and technology developers, government and lawmakers, investors and financial institutions.

In Kyrgyzstan, there have been significant developments in the digital and communications sectors in the last several years. Government policies and programmes to accelerate digitalization, such as the series of National Digitalization Development Strategies starting in 2002 and the integration of digitalization into National Sustainable Development Strategies, as well as the E-Government Strategy and the enhancement of coordination between state institutions for digitalization, and  have resulted in significant improvements in the state of digitalization in the country.

Dastan Dogoev, Minister of Digital Development of the Kyrgyz Republic highlighted main achievements and progress in the area of digital transformation. “Along with setting up of the infrastructure and a regional data center in the country, which will create a platform for interaction between the state and citizens, as well as the basis for attracting the necessary private investment, it is required  to align the regulatory framework, the development of digital skills, the construction of modern and adaptive state institutions." Also, he emphasized a need to reduce a digital gap between the urban and rural areas, as both mobile coverage and fixed internet access are significantly limited in rural areas.

Countries seeking to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are increasingly looking to form national digital strategies and agendas to transform the way they do business and improve the lives of their citizens. 

Innovations bring enormous benefits to the state by contributing to its overall GDP growth and development of individual industries. Digitalisation is also a critical component for unlocking the full potential of Kyrgyzstan as it can reinforce the capacity of local businesses, provide digital infrastructure for accessing cross-border trading and help shape the regulatory framework for protecting and enhancing digital trade. 

As one of the most open and democratic countries in the region, with its strategic location, educated workforce, rich heritage of applied research, competitive wages, sufficient natural resources and a system of active and expanding links with its neighbouring region, Kyrgyzstan is well placed to tap into the untapped potential for sustainable growth through innovations.

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For more information please contact Ainagul Abdrakhmanova, UNDP Communications Officer at 0770755776 or ainagul.abdrakhkmanova@undp.org

 

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