On 7 April 2022, the OECD, in co-operation with the Government of Kazakhstan, held the first virtual working group meeting of the peer review on framework conditions for the digital transformation of businesses in Kazakhstan. The event was organised as part of the OECD Policy Component of the EU Central Asia Invest initiative and brought together the OECD and representatives of the public and private sector in Kazakhstan.
The event was an opportunity to discuss recent digital policy efforts to support firms in Kazakhstan, and to identify priority issues for the review. Draft findings and recommendations will be discussed at the OECD Eurasia Competitiveness Roundtable later this year, and final recommendations will be endorsed by the government of Kazakhstan at the end of the process.
Opening the session, Mr Zhaslan Madiyev, First Vice-Minister of Digital Development, Innovation and Aerospace Industry, welcomed the launch of this peer-review. He noted that Kazakhstan had embarked on an ambitious journey of digital transformation and highlighted the country’s progress in its provision of e-government services. Mr Madiyev added that Kazakhstan stands ready for further co-operation with the OECD and other partners in the implementation of its forthcoming concept of ICT development, currently under public review.
Mr Youri Skaskevitch, Head of Co-operation at the EU Delegation to Kazakhstan, recognised the importance of the OECD peer-review process and the OECD Competitiveness Roundtable for Central Asia’s reform momentum. He also underlined the importance of sound framework conditions for a successful digital transformation, and noted Kazakhstan’s pioneering work in the region with its “Digital Kazakhstan”strategy. He expressed his enthusiasm for the form of the peer-review exercise, praising the ongoing and collaborative nature of the work.
During the first session, Ms Amélie Schurich-Rey, Economist and Policy Analyst in the OECD Eurasia Division, provided an overview of the context, objectives and methodology of the peer-review, highlighting that it will aim at developing recommendations to address the remaining gaps in the framework conditions for the digital uptake of firms in Kazakhstan. Three main dimensions will be considered: (i) physical access to quality digital infrastructure, (ii) the investment attractiveness of the telecom sector, and (iii) the digital regulatory framework and firms’ digital security. She then also shared case-studies from OECD and partner countries, and a preliminary assessment of the state of play in Kazakhstan on each of these dimensions.
Complementing this presentation, Ms Nazgul Bazhayeva, Director of the Department of Digital Transformation in the Ministry of Digital Development, Innovations and Aerospace Industry, detailed the government’s new “Technological Breakthrough through Digitalisation, Science and Innovation” programme, presenting the Ministry’s role in spearheading the digital transformation of government services.
Concluding the second session, Mr Marco Bianchini, Project Co-ordinator, Digital for SMEs Global Initiative (D4SME) in the OECD Centre for Entrepreneurship, SMEs, Regions and Cities, presented the opportunities and challenges associated with SME digitalisation, and discussed recent policy efforts in OECD countries to support the digital transformation of businesses.