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28.05.2014 - With the introduction of 'mobile government' public services become even more available for population – Sarsenov
Kazakhstan plans to introduce the service of "mobile government". Citizens will receive certificates and permits from government agencies and ask questions to heads of ministries and departments through mobile devices, and with the launch of the fifth-generation communication (5G) all these services will be available at speeds up to thousand times faster. First Deputy Chairman of the Agency for Information and Communication Saken Sarsenov tells about these and other innovations in information and communication technologies (ICT) in an interview for Primeminister.kz.
- Could you briefly describe the situation with the development of ICT in Kazakhstan as a whole?

- Speaking generally about the ICT industry, we have a very dynamic development. Technologies such as 3G, 4G, FTTH (Fiber to the Home) are rapidly implemented in Kazakhstan. Today, 71% of Kazakhstan's population already has access to the Internet, this figure is higher in the city - 75%, and in the village - 49%. Now our task is to provide broadband Internet service to rural residents. In 2015, the program "Optical fiber to the village" will be launched by Kazakhtelecom. The operator will lay optical fiber in rural settlements with a population of more than 250 people.

- Evolution of the development of e-government of Kazakhstan allowed to achieve impressive results as evidenced by the ratings of the United Nations. What are the further steps to improve this position of our country?

- In terms of the development of e-government Kazakhstan ranked 38th in the world at the end of 2012. We expect to improve the position in the UN ranking 2013.

Now 570 public services in our country are already provided in electronic form, all licenses have been converted into electronic format, but only 294 permits are issued in electronic form. By the end of the year we will transfer all permits into an electronic format.

The next step is the development of mobile government. Citizens will be able to use services through their mobile phones. We are now working on making it possible not only for smartphone users, but also for regular phones via SMS or identifier.

- One of the main themes of ASTEX-2014 exhibition-conference that was recently held in Astana was the issue of e-commerce. What is the dynamic of e-commerce development in Kazakhstan and what is the influence of this sector on the economy?

- E-commerce is a very important issue for our country, because this trend is developing all over the world and has very serious influence on national economies. For example, e-commerce turnover has been 1.2 trillion U.S. dollars this year in the world. This is a very serious indicator.

Our e-commerce market doubles annually, and this year it has amounted to about 600 million U.S. dollars. We hope that this trend of doubling will continue. Now the Government is taking serious steps to remove barriers for the development of e-commerce, all the necessary legal documents have been adopted, and we have developed infrastructure. I think we need to work more actively in this direction.

If compared with Russia, there have been introduced taxes. For instance, if you buy something via e-bay from the U.S. or China, and the sum exceeds a certain threshold of about 150 U.S. dollars, you must pay tax. There is no such thing in Kazakhstan. Perhaps we will introduce similar countermeasures to develop the domestic market, but now we give the opportunity to develop this type of commerce.

- Is it necessary to remove any barriers in e-commerce or did we create all the conditions for e-business?

- Kazakhstan has a very liberal legislation. I do not think that any "barriers" exist in this regard for the development of e-commerce. But we have two problems. First - second-tier banks and the National Bank have to work on payment systems. And the second problem is logistics - transport of goods from the seller to the buyer. I think that the mechanisms in matters of logistics will be provided by JSC "KazPost" and JSC "Kazakhstan Temir Zholy". I think that these companies need to work hard to ensure maximum transparency in the delivery of goods to the buyer in the process of electronic purchases.

In general, the 600 million dollar market of e-commerce is an indicator that speaks for itself. For example, I have forgotten the last time I went to a ticket office to buy tickets, it's all done via the Internet. It is possible to buy tickets, pay taxes and utilities, order food, pay for mobile communication via the Internet.

- Now the world is talking about the fifth-generation communication technology 5G. Is there a rough forecast when this technology can be introduced in Kazakhstan?

- 5G is a completely new technology. South Korea, Europe already begin to test this technology. The 5G speed will be thousand times faster than 4G. This technology, according to preliminary estimates of experts, will be standardized in 2017-2018. As soon as it is standardized by the International Telecommunication Union, of course, we will also begin to introduce it in Kazakhstan, after the relevant standards are adopted.