By Nigar Orujova
Businessmen discussed key aspects and prospects of ICT development in Azerbaijan on February 18.
The representative of the private sector sat for talks in a business forum organized in Baku by the Caspian European Club.
Ali Abbasov, Communications and High Technologies Minister, noted the active work of the Caspian European Club, which brings together over 5,000 companies from 50 countries of the world, in building business-to-government dialogue which paves the way for establishing much closer cooperation between the government institutions and the private sector.
The Club was established in June 2002 through active involvement of Caspian Energy International Media Group and with the support of the largest oil and gas companies operating in the Caspian-Black Sea region.
Touching upon the role of information and communication technologies amid overall economic growth in Azerbaijan, he said, the development in the country’s economy has created conditions to achieve success in the field of ICT.
The meeting discussed possibilities of involvement of the private sector in ICT-projects that the state implements as well as issues that are of interest to the Caspian European Club member companies.
Abbasov outlined that ICT and high technologies are among the developing sectors in Azerbaijan.
“Considering the outcomes of 2014, the rates of the ICT sector development exceed the rates of the social-economic development of the country by several times. Overall profits gained from ICT sector of Azerbaijan reached 1.7 bln manats (over $2bln) in 2014. The growth rate of the ICT sector totaled 16.2 percent,” he stressed.
In the meantime, there is a slight decrease of investments within the ICT sector, which totaled about 140 million manats ($200mln) in 2014. The share of private investments totaled about 40 percent. Meanwhile, the private sector gained 80 percent of profits in the ICT sector.
The minister said the decline of oil prices require the states to make some saving-related corrections within projects financed by them. Therefore, the state’s financing of a number of projects was substituted by other types of financing.
Abbasov outlined that projects of infrastructural importance are currently implemented in the ICT sector including the field of cellular communication, internet, landline communication, radio and television, satellite services.
The biggest project is being implemented together with the State Oil Fund of Azerbaijan in the field of development of the broadband internet.
“We forecasted allocation of 450 million manats for a three year period. However, we have rescheduled this project to the period after 2016,” the minister added.
Agreements on financing of a number of ICT projects have been reached with foreign banks and international financial institutions, he said. “Certain projects have already found financing sources as investments made in this sphere are regained within 3-5 years.”
Abbasov stressed the goal to expand the ICT market in Azerbaijan, where a special role belongs to development of projects aimed at manufacturing of export-oriented products.
Speaking about innovative development, he stressed expansion of start-ups and adoption of new technologies.
CEO of the Caspian European Club Telman Aliyev said: “We are hopeful that in the future this forum will become a key event for investors of countries of the Caspian, Black Sea and Baltic regions.”
Aliyev said the Caspian European Club promotes attraction of oil sector revenues into development of the non-oil sector since its establishment.
The meeting also discussed the proposals of the business forum participants on the topic as well as issues of interest to the member companies of the club.
Nigar Orujova is AzerNews’s staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @o_nigar
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