In the last few years, Kazakhstan has been reinforcing its goal to bolster its digital landscape by establishing new IT hubs in all regional centers nationwide. With a strategic focus on enhancing the technological infrastructure and providing a platform for burgeoning IT specialists, companies, and startups, this endeavor aims to cultivate a thriving ecosystem conducive to innovation and growth.
I instructed Astana Hub to help regions to open hubs in all regional centers this year, currently they exist only in 7 cities. Astana Hub will provide the necessary financial support, we only request infrastructure and a foundation from the akimats. Every time I visit the regions, I see that local IT people have a lot of ideas, but sometimes they lack a little knowledge or mentorship, and sometimes just financial support.
So far, initiated by the Digital Ministry and with the support of Astana Hub and local executive bodies, IT Hubs have been opened in 11 regions of Kazakhstan since the beginning of the year: Abai IT Valley (Semey), Kyzylorda Hub (Kyzylorda), Digital Jetisu (Taldykorgan), Zhambyl Hub (Taraz), Oskemen IT Hub (Oskemen), Jaiq Hub (Oral), Turkistan IT Hub (Turkistan), Aqtobe IT Hub (Aktobe), Qostanai It Hub (Kostanay), Aqmola IT Hub (Kokshetau), Pavlodar Hub (Pavlodar).
The benefits of each regional center having its own IT hub are expected to become evident across multiple levels in the near future. On the one hand, the regions may experience an influx of professionals potentially creating new workplaces creating startups, and developing new products. As for developers and startups, they will not be limited to Astana and Almaty to kickstart their journey in the industry. From a financial perspective, starting a career in IT in either of the major cities can pose a significant economic burden for newcomers, while beginning in one's home region appears more practical, particularly due to the extensive support provided by Astana Hub.
The bigger picture
Considering the impact of opening new hubs in the regions, it can be assumed that the initiative aligns with two of Kazkahstan’s ambitions in the industry — increasing its export of digital services, and improving the country’s position in global digitalization rankings, which will positively reflect on IT development overall by making startups from our country more lucrative to investors.
Minister Mussin addressed the digital export issue in September during the Government session.
The Head of State has set a goal to bring IT exports to $1 billion by 2026. Last year, IT exports grew 5 times and amounted to $334 million, including $153 million by Astana Hub participants. This is an indicator that our digital products are competitive in the international arena.
As for the international recognition of Kazakhstan's efforts to advance in IT sector, the recent rankings show strong position. The country’s successes in digitalization have been recognized internationally. Last year, Kazakhstan ranked 28th out of 193 in the UN's E-Government Development Index (EGDI), which is an improvement of one position compared to 2020. The country's EGDI amounted to 0.86. This is the highest index among the CIS and Central Asian countries. In addition, Kazakhstan ranks significantly higher than such countries as Ireland, Canada, Italy, Belgium, Czech Republic and others.
Since April, new hubs have been launched in Aktobe, Kyzylorda, Oral, Kokshetau, and Pavlodar.
The hubs in Kyzylorda and Oral promised to host various events and programs (e.g. Idea Battle and Startup Talapker competitions), incubation programs at the concept and product creation stages, and stream all of the Astana Hub’s educational and business programs.
Aqmola Hub in Kokshetau and Pavlodar Hub were opened this fall, and have already hosted various events, such as Speaker Talks, workshops and Cyberday with industry experts.
No doubt, the move to expand IT hubs outside major urban centers creates unprecedented opportunities for talented individuals and enterprises to flourish, fostering a dynamic and diverse digital landscape within Kazakhstan. This strategic step underscores the nation's commitment to becoming a regional tech hub, fostering creativity, and empowering the next generation of digital pioneers.