H.E. Mr. Ramin Hasanov, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Azerbaijan to the Federal Republic of Germany on the ICT sector in Azerbaijan gives a short overview about the ICT sector in his country.
Information-communication technologies (ICT) play a crucial role in promoting Azerbaijan’s efficient transition to innovation, technology and knowledge-based economy. According to the UN, Azerbaijan’s development cost of being landlocked equals to 11.24%.
Taking into account the country’s geographical disadvantage due to the landlockedness and considering that energy sector has traditionally been a cornerstone of the national economy, ICT has been identified as one of key priorities in non-commodity sector development, economic diversification, balanced development of the country’s regions, promotion of “Make in Azerbaijan” concept and “Made in Azerbaijan” brand. ICT matters have been included in “Azerbaijan 2020: The Vision to the Future” development concept, as well as in the strategic roadmap of the national economy and its key sectors.
Azerbaijan’s strategic geo-economic location at the crossroads of international corridors (East-West, North-South and vice-versa), as well as transport and logistics potential have enabled the country to emerge as a digital bridge and ICT hub in the immediate region and beyond.
Industrial and techno parks have been established in the country and are aimed at promoting digital economy and increasing the global competitiveness of the small and medium-sized enterprises.
- Sumgayit Chemical Industrial Park
- Balakhani Industrial Park
- Garadagh Industrial Park
- Mingachevir Industrial Park
- Pirallahi Industrial Park
- Mingachevir High-Tech Park
- High-Tech Park of Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences
Tax and customs incentives are provided for the residents of industrial and techno parks for a period of 7 years. Moreover, business procedures are simplified and registration process is electronically realised in one-stop-shop.
Azerbaijan promotes trans-regional ICT connectivity through perspective implementation of the UN-supported Trans-Eurasian Information Super Highway (TASIM) project which will enhance broadband connection, development of ICT infrastructure and e-commerce across Eurasia. According to the UN, TASIM could position the country as a transit hub for the region and, among the landlocked developing countries, Azerbaijan has the most robust cross-border connectivity. TASIM is a regional initiative aimed at creation of trans-national fiber-optic backbone targeting countries of Eurasia and envisages building a new transit route from Germany to China. The activities are being continued in the framework of the TASIM Consortium and, once operational, this route will connect the biggest internet exchange points in Europe and Asia, namely Frankfurt and Hong Kong.
As the only satellite operator in the region, AZERCOSMOS is keen to become one of the leading actors of the international space industry. Data Center, being the largest in the region, will intensify the country’s integration into global information environment. Digital Trade Hub portal has been established with the aim of further developing infrastructural base of e-commerce and offering a range services for regional economic and trade facilitation. Azexport.az, integrated with leading e-trade portals, provides information about “Made in Azerbaijan” products and acts as a platform for their sales in foreign and domestic markets. National Nuclear Research Center develops nuclear technologies for peaceful purposes and expands scientific research. High-Tech Research Center pursues the goal of importing cutting-edge technologies to Azerbaijan and fostering digital transformation. Internet of Things Laboratory has been launched to develop various ICT solutions and expand innovative activities by attracting young professionals and start-uppers. Azerbaijan Innovations Export Consortium has been jointly established by 10 leading Azerbaijan ICT companies to export innovative and competitive products and services to the foreign markets.
Annually-held BAKUTEL – Azerbaijan International Telecommunications, Innovations and High Technologies Exhibition, is a business platform to showcase global ICT achievements to shape the digital future. As the holder of the UN Public Service Award, ASAN Service – a structure providing various public services for the citizens and residents of Azerbaijan, applies the most sophisticated ICT and renders its services in an innovative manner.
ICT usage and application also ensures the intellectual property-based growth and innovative development in the country. Intellectual property commercialization generates additional revenue for the Azerbaijani economy, thus increasing the share of creative (copyright-based) industries in the GDP approximately to 5%. According to the WIPO, patents in force in Azerbaijan equaled to 253 in 2018.
Azerbaijan is one of the most successful performers and reformers in the region. Many international structures, such as: International Telecommunication Union, Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development, UN Development Programme, World Bank, World Economic Forum and others acknowledge and appreciate Azerbaijan’s economic achievements. Referring to the recent international economic reports, Azerbaijan was well-ranked on a number of economic indicators, especially in ease of doing business and getting a credit, internet usage, as well as skilled labor force and literacy rates. In this context, Azerbaijan expands its international cooperation to effectively integrate into global value chains and multilateral trading system, as well as achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
German-Azerbaijani economic relations
German-Azerbaijani economic relations are one of the most dynamically developing areas of cooperation. Mutual visits on the highest level between the two countries, organization of business events, as well as Azerbaijan’s participation at various exhibitions in Germany particularly contribute to the expansion of bilateral economic and trade relations. Azerbaijan is the most significant economic and trade partner of Germany in the South Caucasus. In the first half of 2019, the share of Azerbaijan in the overall trade turnover of Germany with the South Caucasus was around 75%. Germany was Azerbaijan’s 4th largest foreign trade partner in 2018. In the first half of 2019, bilateral trade accounted for more than 1 billion Euros. During 1995-2018, Germany invested approximately USD 630 million to the Azerbaijani economy. German companies are mostly active in Azerbaijan’s non-oil sector. The German-Azerbaijani Chamber of Commerce operates in Azerbaijan and has almost 140 members. The 9th Meeting of the German-Azerbaijani High-Level Working Group on Trade and Investments is planned be held in the first quarter of 2020 in Berlin.
Cover photo by Ondrej Bocek on Unsplash: https://unsplash.com/@happyna
Photo: H.E. Mr. Ramin Hasanov