Inaugural Speech by the President of Kyrgyzstan, Sooronbai Jeenbekov, at the Conference on “Digital Transformation in Central Asia” on October 4, 2019 in Bishkek. The three-day Conference was organized by the University of Central Asia, the State Committee for Information Technology and Communications, and the High Technology Park of the Kyrgyz Republic.
President Jeenbekov delivering the inaugural address.
Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,
I welcome all participants of this Conference, which is of tremendous importance to our country.
Dear Guests – Intellectual leaders of the IT-sector, and managers of companies,
Welcome to our sunny country!
I thank you for your willingness to make a contribution to the digital reforms that are taking place in our country, and for coming to share your knowledge and expertise.
Representatives of the local IT community,
Your work plays a decisive role in the development of the new Kyrgyzstan – a Digital Kyrgyzstan.
You are initiating new changes and introducing a digital philosophy to the society. I wish you every success in your patriotic and innovative work, and I am committed to providing you with every support.
Dear participants of the Conference,
Digital technologies are changing the landscape of the global economy by creating conditions that enable all countries to take meaningful part in the global process.
In order to leverage these new opportunities, we need to create a new domain in the government, private sector and general society – a domain that is able and willing to embrace new developments.
Only those countries that do not shrink from such changes, but rapidly adopt and implement innovations, can achieve success.
Keeping abreast of other countries, we should build a modern society and do our best to fill a niche in the global digital economy.
We have set a goal to make our country the leader in the region in terms of digitization. We should promptly address a number of problems that inhibit achieving this goal:
Digital technologies have been introduced into state and municipal services, but have certain gaps.
Weak infrastructure impedes the ability of the private sector to produce high-quality products and to be competitive.
Digital technologies are not easily accessible in rural areas, especially broadband Internet.
These factors negatively impact the development of the country, and more specifically the regions.
Seeking to address these problems in the fastest possible manner, by respective decree, I declared the year of 2019 as the “Year of Development of Regions and Digitalization of the Country”.
We are currently undertaking comprehensive efforts in this area, and have already produced preliminary results with respect to digitization of the country.
State agencies are increasingly exchanging information through “TUNDUK”, an interdepartmental electronic system.
Certain state services are now offered in digital format.
“Safe City” project is being actively implemented. I want to stress that “Safe City” is not an economic project, helping the Government to derive profits. This project seeks to decrease traffic accidents and save lives. Since its inception, the incidents of traffic violations have decreased by 50%. The number of accidents on the roads of the Republic have dropped by half.
Judiciary system, law enforcement agencies, and prosecution authorities, are also being digitized. We have launched efforts to promote transparency of these agencies.
We have certain achievements with respect to digitization of the social sphere – introduced new developments such as Electronic Books, Electronic Waiting-List, and payments through mobile applications.
We are offering large-scale training to improve digital qualification of specialists and administrators.
The number of citizens who participate in this process, because they realize the importance and benefits of digital technologies, is growing.
The need to come into contact with bureaucrats in state agencies is diminishing, as the options for using electronic means are expanding.
Meanwhile, we are objective in our perception of the situation, and recognize that we still need to address many tasks. The goals that we need to achieve in the years ahead are as follows:
First goal. Significantly modify the state and municipal services through digital technologies.
“Digital solutions” will be expanded and enhanced to help rapidly identify demands of citizens and the needs of society.
Digital technologies will promote transparency in the decision-making process, openness and rapidness of interaction with citizens.
Digitization will improve efficiency of state agencies and mitigate the human factor, which will reduce corruption.
A mobile and flexible government can rapidly respond to different situations.
The Government will become a digital platform, that together with the private sector will offer increasing number of services through mobile devices.
Alongside with that, “Sanarip Aimak (Digital Region)” platform will be implemented. Local and municipal services will be digitized and made available through stationary and mobile devices.
State and municipal officers should change their way of thinking, adapt to new conditions that are being created by digitization, and stay at the forefront of ongoing reform.
Second.We will create a digital society by improving digital knowledge and skills of our citizens. Digitization will change all spheres of activities, and the very way of life of the people.
Digital technologies will change the mentality of the society, and become a part of the life of every citizen. Obtaining new knowledge and mastering new technologies should become a continuous process. It will make citizens more competitive and sought-after in the labor market according to the needs of the time.
If we are not ready for these changes, the digital world will remain closed to us. That is why every citizen should be receptive to new developments and keep learning on a continuous basis. Ethics of Internet-based communications, principles of cybersecurity, and the digital culture should become indispensable guidelines of our life.
Therefore, digitization of the society is an important process that among other things will establish our place in the world. The process of digitization can only be successful through the joint efforts of all stakeholders – society, government, private sector, international organizations, and foreign partners.
Third. We should improve education, social sphere, and healthcare in all regions of the Republic, by leveraging capabilities offered by digitization.
From now on, special attention will be given to two strategic areas:
First – introduce new digital technologies and ensure high-quality medical care countrywide, both in urban and rural areas.
Second – improve the quality of education. Make distant learning technologies easily accessible so as to bring high-quality education to rural areas.
Future schools and hospitals will widely use digital technologies. Good performance in these social spheres will, above all, improve the living standards of the population.
Fourth. New capabilities will change conventional sectors of the economy, while application of artificial intelligence will increase workforce productivity.
Innovative solutions will have positive impact on business practices, and on the growth of the economy in general.
New opportunities will emerge, and leveraging these opportunities will help us move up to a higher level of development in a short time. And information technologies will help us create additional opportunities to generate employment.
There is another important aspect:
Kyrgyzstan has tremendous energy generation potential. This potential will enable us to create regional computing infrastructure that is essential for artificial intelligence, big data, and blockchain technologies.
At the same time, we should be very cautious about the potential impact of cryptocurrency on the economy.
In the long run, information will be valued as digital gold.
In short, we have set a goal to build a digital economy that draws on knowledge.
Fifth. Kyrgyzstan should become the regional hub for technology transfer. This is our ambitious goal. We should embrace advanced technologies and pass them on to others.
We intend to become a country that is a catalyst for change, and also provides new technological solutions and innovations to our partners from EEU, SCO and WTO. In this connection we should support domestic IT production, technological projects, startup initiatives, and research in this area.
We should also create technological parks and labs. It would make sense to create such innovative clusters under the High Technology Parks.
Sixth. Data protection. This aspect requires special attention.
Protection of the interests of the State starts with protection of State secrets. Interest of our citizens are also sacred. No one should be able to access personal data without permission from the citizen.
In this connection we should ensure sufficient level of cybersecurity and protection of personal data, and promote digital ethics.
The Government has adopted a cybersecurity strategy. Now we need to introduce the most advanced technologies in this sphere.
We realize that success of the digitization of the country hinges on the combined efforts of all stakeholders. It requires consolidated efforts by the government, private sector and society. Collaborative work with foreign partners and international organization is very important for us. We need our partners to assist us with knowledge and technologies, but we also need financial support for implementation of these new projects. Partnerships and joint initiatives are of great importance for us, and we intend to develop a new culture of largescale cooperation.
We have shared our goals with you, so now you know what we want to achieve.
In this connection I invite you to consider a possibility of establishing a Forum of Digital Leaders. Such a Forum can become an efficient foresight platform in our region regarding digital development.
Thus, today we have laid the foundation of our long-term partnership.
The government will be represented in this Forum by the State Committee of the Kyrgyz Republic for Information Technology and Communications.
Once more I thank you for participating in the process of digitization of our country. I emphasize again that we are open for partnerships and collaborative work! Together we can turn the Kyrgyz Republic into a country that plays a significant role in the digital world.
Notwithstanding the above, I want to stress that facilitation of digitization is among the paramount duties of the heads of state agencies that are sitting here.
While the government has already taken a number of significant steps towards digitization, we have many more plans for the future.
I want you to know that as the President of the country, I place special emphasis on this area. Digitization of the country is a priority of my work. The respective ministries and agencies must accelerate implementation of their respective tasks in this regard.
Earlier today I highlighted objectives for education, healthcare and social protection. It is also important to facilitate countrywide introduction of computerized ambulance services, tele-health and online-consulting.
Another objective is to introduce digital technologies in the sector of architecture and construction.
In order to ensure efficient management of state assets, we need to rapidly introduce electronic record-books, and other electronic means to ensure transparency in record-keeping.
We will also implement reforms in the power generation sector and the mining industry. Digitization will become a key tool to ensure transparency in these spheres.
While we are digitizing the State Registration Service, the pace of this work is not sufficient.
Digitization of the judicial system, prosecution authorities, and law enforcement agencies, should also be accelerated.
We cannot bring digitization to the population, unless oblast and rayon administrations become proficient in digital technologies in the first place. Our objective is to start providing services at the oblast and rayon levels through digital format.
Local authorities should rapidly adopt new developments and increasingly resort to digital solutions in performing their functions. Do not forget that the task of improving digital literacy of the population falls mostly on your shoulders.
Let’s accelerate digitization of the private sector. The government will provide all kinds of support to firms that create new jobs, especially to IT companies that operate in rural areas.
In conclusion I express my gratitude to the organizers of this Conference – the University of Central Asia, High Technology Park, and State Committee for Information Technology and Communications.
I am sure that this Conference will become a platform to promote creative ideas on digital transformation.
I wish you all every success.
Let our Kyrgyzstan always have peace and harmony!