By Nigar Orujova
Baku can become a regional center for innovation, including in the field of comprehensive Internet, said Jonathan Sparrow, Cisco vice president for Russia and CIS.
The American company Cisco is currently working with the Azerbaijan’s network of centers for simplified access to public services ASAN Xidmet. The company also supports a project of First European Games to be held in Baku this year.
“Azerbaijan pays great attention to innovative technologies and their introduction in order to facilitate the lives of its citizens. If Azerbaijan will focus on the introduction of modern technologies, the country has a great chance to continue rapid development not only thanks to natural resources,” Sparrow said.
He noted the fact that Barcelona has recently received the award of the European Union, as the capital of innovations, and said Baku may receive the award in its region as well.
“If to keep in mind that the goal of the city is to provide citizens with the best conditions for life and if to set correct, far-reaching goals, not just build good infrastructure and create business models, then it is quite achievable,” he said.
Sparrow said that they are impressed that an actively developing innovations center is operating in ASAN.
“The concept of smart and safe city provides a platform for creation of fresh business models, technologies, applications, and potential in this area may be no less than in the global market of mobile applications,” he said.
“Within this concept, products that can be created in Baku today may enter into the markets of India, the U.S., and the countries of Europe in a certain period of time. Export of such technologies abroad is quite easy, and it quickly scales,” Sparrow emphasized.
Cisco Systems has introduced a new platform of national broadband Internet infrastructure in Azerbaijan, the Azerbaijani Communications and High Technologies Ministry said.
Cisco Systems is preparing to participate in the project development of broadband Internet in Azerbaijan.
The prospects of cooperation between the Ministry and the company were discussed at a meeting of Ali Abbasov, Communications and High Technologies Minister, with Jonathan Sparrow in Baku.
The sides also discussed new areas of cooperation and development of the existing capacity.
Sparrow expressed readiness to support Azerbaijan in its main goal - to transform the country into the center of information services in the region.
The vice-president said Cisco is interested in participating in the development of broadband Internet in Azerbaijan and ready to offer the necessary technological solutions for the project.
The project on the development of broadband Internet in Azerbaijan is planned to start in 2015 and to be implemented in the next three years.
The ultimate goals of the project are to provide the whole country, including remote rural areas, with high-speed internet in the range of 10-100 megabits/second and to increase the share of broadband internet users to 85 percent. This will allow Azerbaijan to reach the level of other developed countries by 2017.
Currently, about 70 percent of the populations use the Internet, and the broadband Internet penetration among the population stands at 50 percent.
The total cost of the project is estimated at more than 450 million manats, and it will run from 2014 to 2016.
Under the project, all the settlements of Azerbaijan are expected to be provided with high-speed access to the Internet by 2017.
The State Oil Fund of Azerbaijan is set to allocate100 million manats to the project this year.
Earlier, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development approved the allocation of about 27 million euros loan for the project of broadband internet development. Of the total loan amount, 13.7 million euros are intended for Production Association Aztelekom, and the rest for Baku Telephone Communications PA. The interest rate is six percent per annum.
The project, according to the Ministry, is cost effective and will pay off in the fourth year after the start of its implementation.
Azerbaijan is taking the 64th place in the world in terms of ICT development, according to the International Telecommunication Union.
The country is adopting measures to develop the non-oil segment of its economy. In this context, ICT is one of the prominent sectors, and the income of Azerbaijan's information technology sector has doubled in the past five years.
Nigar Orujova is AzerNews’s staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @o_nigar
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