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Date:09/03/12

Speech of Prof. Dr. Ali M. Abbasov,Minister of Communications and Information Technologies of the Republic of Azerbaijan, at the “Connect” Arab Summit

It’s the great pleasure for me as a member of Broadband Commission and the head of delegation of Azerbaijan to be among the participants of the Connect Arab Summit.
 
Taking this opportunity I would like to convey greetings and best wishes of the Government of Azerbaijan and ICT community of Azerbaijan to the organizers and to you all. We highly appreciate the initiative of ITU, League of Arab States and the Government of the State of Qatar to hold this summit, which is expected to bring to the region new opportunities and momentum for future development in ICT and socio-economic development entirely.
 
As you may know two summits on connecting the regions organized by ITU were held in Africa and the CIS. The previous summit "Connect CIS" held in 2009 in Minsk, Belarus made it possible to be transformed into a traditional event, which attracts a big attention in the world of ICT.
 
The Arab World has been changing dynamically and making certain progress in socio-economic development, mostly affecting the Gulf countries, and there are vital socio-economic problems unsolved in non-Gulf and African-Arab countries. If take into account that ICT has been directly correlated with economic growth, productivity and employment, there are would be no doubt the summit and its outcomes and findings will have brought new opportunities for the well-being of the region.
 
As a representative of another region, Eurasia, the region of the direct neighbor of the Arab World we live mostly through the same ICT development problems. If we look at the globe we see two highly developed parts of the planet. The Western developed world – the North America and the Western Europe and very fast growing Asia-Pacific from Japan to New Zealand including Korea, China, India, Australia, Malaysia and others. And between these two parts of the world area containing Eurasian and Arab region we have a big gap of ICT development, not only ICT but educational, scientific, economical, social as well.
 
This problem has been systematically analyzed, discussed at all levels, in international, ITU, RCC (Regional Commonwealth in the field of Communications), governments and also by experts and academicians. And all thoughts and recommendations proposed for the problem solving are leading us to the same matters:
  1. High cost and poor external connectivity of the region;
  2. Poor digital content, including smart applications such as e-education, e-healthcare, e-commerce and etc.
  3. Inefficient environment for investment, including FDI, and lack of effective environment for competition;
  4. Low quality of educational system, resulted in insufficient potential of qualified human research;
  5. And the last, some colleagues may not agree with me, it’s natural recourses wealthy, mostly oil and gas, with their positive and negative consequences.
 
In Azerbaijan and in the most countries of the region we have been intensively working on solving these problems. In Azerbaijan we have state programs on building the broadband infrastructure on the base of "Fiber-to-Home", e-government with cyber-security, digital radio and TV broadcasting, space technologies development and so on.
 
The Government is planning to spend for ICT projects $3.5 bl. for the next ten years, and so much is expected from private sector. For expanding the role of private sector we are creating special improved fiscal, monetary and investment environment. Understanding the shortage of time I will shortly highlight two projects of inter-regional information highway, which are expected to bring high connectivity to the not only Eurasian and also the Arabic region.
 
First is the project of "Trans-Eurasian Information Super Highway" connecting the Europe with the Asia-Pacific region. In 2009, the project was supported by a political resolution of 64th UN General Assemble and is being implemented with the coordination of Azerbaijan.
Second is the so-called EPEG (European-Persian Express Gateway) connecting Europe thought Russia, Azerbaijan, Iran and the Gulf countries ending in Oman.
 
In general, it must be positively emphasized that the summit was effective, all problems planned in agenda have been open to discussions for all. Everybody had opportunity to express their mind, their views, also, we had good environment for bilateral and multilateral meetings. The presence of the Heads of States and Governments and especially personally participation of the His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, the Emir of the State of Qatar gave the impetus and optimism to our future plans and prosperity.
 
We thank the organizers, the Government of the State of Qatar, the League of Arab States, and especially ITU with its Secretary General, Dr. H. Ture the man with vision, the man with intellectual power, and the man who wants to make the world without any divides, including digital.
 
Thank you for attention!     
 




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