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Uzbekistan wants to invest heavily in its digital infrastructure

Uzbek authorities are ready to invest $ 2.5 billion by 2023 to develop their digital infrastructure, the weaknesses of which have been exposed by the coronavirus.

It is an important investment. On February 5, the Uzbek Prime Minister Abdoulla Aripov announced that his government plans to invest 2.5 billion dollars (2 billion euros) to strengthen its digital infrastructure by 2023, as reported by the Uzbek media Gazeta.uz.

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The objective of this investment is to allow digital access to public services, to develop electronic administration for the banking sector and subsequently for the health and agriculture sectors. The funds will also allow the construction of three new data centers in the capital Tashkent, in Bukhara and Kokand by 2023, which will promote the expansion of the fixed telecommunications network. The Uzbek government also wants to connect all schools (8,000 schools), extracurricular and medical establishments to optical fiber.

The Covid-19 has damaged the Uzbek infrastructure

These massive investments for the most populous country in Central Asia come as the Uzbek internet has been damaged by the coronavirus. With the first confinement in March 2020, the Internet was very slowed down by the influx of connections, especially since the number of Internet users has increased by 20 to 30% in a few weeks. The government was visibly taken aback, as the speed of the Internet in Uzbekistan had increased by a factor of 2.4 between January 2019 and January 2020.

Internet speed has been significantly reduced and mainly for mobile Internet networks. This upsurge was noted by the Uzbek government, which responded with the help of mobile operators, such as Uzbektelecom, by modernizing more than 302 digital stations to do everything possible to overcome the slowdown in speed.

Read also on Novastan: Digital development is accelerating in Uzbekistan

The goal of the Uzbek government is to provide faster and cheaper Internet access for the entire country. But its geostrategic situation in terms of Internet infrastructure remains precarious. In fact, Uzbekistan is connected to the network of networks by Kazakhstan, which is itself connected by Russia. Tashkent is therefore dependent on the prices charged by Russian and Kazakh operators before being able to provide Internet to its population.

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This situation leads to a rather slow Internet compared to the rest of the world. According to Speedtest data, Uzbekistan arrived in January 2021 at 128th ranks out of 140 countries in terms of fixed Internet speed, and 94th ranks out of 175 for its mobile Internet.

A desire shown since 2017

These difficulties do not seem to impact the will of the Uzbek government since President Chavkat Mirzioïev came to power in December 2016. New economic and political reforms established during the National development strategy for the period 2017-2021 have created real dynamism. Since then, Uzbekistan has mobilized to catch up with its digital backwardness.

Read also on Novastan: Internet infrastructure, a bulwark against the spread of Covid-19?

In order to compensate for the lack of skills in the field, the government wants to train its population and standardize the use of digital services. Last January, the Uzbek Science Park launched a new educational project to train computer specialists: “Future skills Uzbekistan”, reports the official UzA news agency. Headed by the Uzbek Ministry of Employment, the program is dedicated to unemployed people over the age of 16.

Read also on Novastan: Uzbekistan: Youth, a decisive project for Chavkat Mirzioïev

This will allow the increase in the number of qualified executives in the sector and in addition, the opportunity for a better standard of living for the youth of Uzbekistan.

Carla Bouzon
Writer for Novastan

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