Kazakhstan • 31 January, 2020

Arthur van Diesen: Success in digitalization is the result of commitment of Kazakh Government

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UNICEF Representative in Kazakhstan Arthur van Diesen spoke about the joint work of UNICEF and the Government of the Republic of Kazakhstan on the implementation of innovations and digitalization in an interview with Primeminister.kz.

According to Arthur van Diesen, one of the most important areas of cooperation between UNICEF and the Government is the introduction of innovations in the implementation of children’s rights.

“We have a long history of very productive partnership with the Government of Kazakhstan in pursuing and fulfilling child rights in the country. One of the key features of our collaboration has been that of innovation. Therefore, we have a long history of working on different kinds of innovations and research on how they can promote the realization child rights,” said van Diesen.

The UNICEF representative also commented on the possibility of opening a regional UNICEF hub in Kazakhstan to implement the GIGA initiative aimed at providing secondary schools with high-speed Internet access and the development of innovative startups.

“We are very excited now to work with our head office to bring yet another innovation in the field of digital connectivity. From our point of view, it is not really possible for young people to be fully prepared for the world of work, their future life as citizens in their country, as parents, without having access to the Internet. Therefore, we are working with the Government of Kazakhstan to boost Internet access, to make sure that every school in Kazakhstan and in the region is connected to the Internet. We think that we will really help young people to get a better quality of education and, ultimately, to have better chances to be employed and build a fruitful future for themselves,” said van Diesen.

He emphasized that in remote areas of Kazakhstan there are very small schools where only a few students study. And for them, getting a quality education very much depends on gaining access to the Internet. Therefore, for them it is not only about connection, it is also the creation of the right content for training.

As for the overall digital transformation in Kazakhstan, according to Arthur van Diesen, great progress has been made in the country and very little remains to be done to achieve the goal.

“I think, for Kazakhstan, full connectivity is actually very much within reach. Because already there is so much progress that has been made. And I think what we are looking at with the Government of Kazakhstan is how we can get the private sector, internet service providers, the financial sector interested in particularly fixing what we call the ‘last mile problem,’ the last connectivity gap that still exists before we have 100%. So, I think if we work hard together, and if we are creative and innovative in bringing together private and public partners, we can actually close this gap very soon,” said van Diesen.

As the UNICEF representative of notes, the achievement of such results was made possible thanks to the properly structured work of the Government of Kazakhstan on digitalization and innovation.

“I think this is also, to a large extent, due to the commitment that the Government of Kazakhstan has shown to digitalization, to innovation. It is one of the few Governments that I know in the world where you do not only have a minister who deals with these issues, but even within line ministries, such as education and health, you actually have vice ministers dealing with digitalization. Therefore, there is a strong commitment. On top of that, there is an active private sector. Therefore, I think that because of all these things, Kazakhstan has developed very fast in this field in terms of connecting the citizens to the Internet,” he said.

Arthur van Diesen also believes that Kazakhstan is far ahead of other countries in the region.

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