Kazakhstan climbs up the post-Soviet IT heap

Apr 24, 2013
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In the annual Global Information Technology Report of the World Economic Forum, Kazakhstan has outshone its Central Asian neighbors – and Russia – to rank 43 of 144 countries, EurasiaNet.org reports. Kyrgyzstan, on the other hand, ranks at the bottom of all post-Soviet nations, at 118.    

The IT report analyzes the impact of information and communication technologies (ICT) on 144 economies, utilizing the Networked Readiness Index, which judges a nation’s progress using 54 indicators. Kazakh connectedness was ranked 55th in 2012, while Kyrgyzstan actually dropped three places from 115th.

The World Economic Forum emphasizes the importance of ICT to a country’s competiveness and prosperity. “It is clear that ICTs offer higher benefit-to-cost ratios in all sectors of production, while simultaneously offering new ways to create value by better and more efficiently organizing the use of natural, financial, and human resources.”

Kazakhstan’s new ranking put it behind only the Baltic states and among former Soviet republics in its IT prowess. Russia ranked 54th. According to Azerbaijan’s Trend news agency, Kazakhstan’s progress includes a rise to 11th place in cell phone users and a significant climb from 133 to 29 in mobile broadband subscriptions. The economic forum praised a strong government hand in the development of an ICT infrastructure but lamented a lagging education system, according to EurasiaNet.org.

Kyrgyzstan, a much poorer nation, received criticism from the forum, as it fell behind equally poor Tajikistan, which moved up two places to 112th. The forum’s report said the country “has not managed to join its neighbors in better leveraging ICTs to boost its economic competitiveness.”

Finland and Singapore top the WEF rankings, surpassing the former leader, Sweden. Among former Soviet states, European and Caucasus countries tend to rank higher than their eastern cousins, led by Skype home base Estonia in 22nd place.

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Transitions Online

Transitions Online (www.tol.org) is an Internet magazine that covers political, social, cultural, and economic issues in the former communist countries of Europe and Central Asia. The magazine has a strong network of local contributors, who provide valuable insight into events in the region’s 29 countries.
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