The three-day conference on Digital Transformation in Central Asia concluded yesterday (October 6) in Naryn with some broad ranging recommendations. Organised by the University of Central Asia, State Committee for Information Technology and Communications, and the High Technology Park of the Kyrgyz Republic, with input from business experts, academics, technology professionals, and government officials, the conference identified technological trends facing Central Asia and recommended practical strategies. It is expected that the conference recommendations will underpin social and economic development strategies for the country and the region.

The President of the Kyrgyz Republic, Sooronbai Jeenbekov, has proposed the creation of an Advisory Forum of Digital Leaders, as an effective platform for digital transformation for the region. The conference was deemed a resounding success by government and private sector participants, and some key outcomes include a roundtable to be convened periodically to ensure that government strategies keep pace with the latest thinking and research, as well as the establishment of a Council of Chief Information Officers.

The conference was an inspiring example of the positive impact that can come from public private partnerships. One such example under which selected startups can leverage resources from China, especially the High Technology Park and Shenzhen Open Innovations Lab, is working to develop an innovative ecosystem in the region.

A recurring theme was the importance of learning from the experience of others, and in this regard, it was proposed to embed a smart cities approach to urban and rural development planning, learning from Korean examples. The Governor of Naryn, Emilbek Alymkulov, discussed the potential of piloting a smart city approach in Naryn, with the help of the Government of Kyrgyzstan, international partners, and the University of Central Asia.

Human capital and digital literacy were widely acknowledged to be a pre-requisite for any sustainable digital transformation, and to support this objective, business leaders and academics will be working together to scale educational programmes such as computing, social media, and e-commerce. Learning resources will also be made available through a web-based portal.

Alongside these initiatives, an emphasis was placed on improving cybersecurity with strong risk mitigation systems and new policies on the safe use of Internet as well as new privacy and transparency regulations, modelled on GDPR. Improved infrastructure will also be crucial to underpin the digital transformation strategy, and this will require investments in network coverage across the region as well as cloud services in country. Taken together, these outcomes combine to create a digital transformation strategy that has the potential to generate significant value for the people of Kyrgyzstan.

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