Kazakhstan • 31 January, 2020

Kazakhstan may become leader of GIGA initiative in Central Asia — Chris Fabian

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Senior Advisor on Innovations to the United Nations Children's Fund Christopher Fabian, who arrived in Almaty to participate in the forum “Digital Almaty: Digital Future of the Global Economy,” announced plans to open a regional UNICEF hub in Kazakhstan to implement the GIGA initiative to provide secondary schools with high-speed Internet access and develop innovative startups, primeminister.kz reports.

There is a global problem — half of humanity does not have internet access, of which 364 million people are young people. The poorer the country, the worse the situation. In some parts of Africa, 1GB equals 110% of average monthly income. Therefore, children who do not currently have internet access will not be able to have work in the future. According to the Ministry of Digital Development, Innovation and Aerospace Industry of the Republic of Kazakhstan, currently in Kazakhstan, 92.88% of schools are provided with broadband internet access at a speed of 4 Mbit / s and more, 6% are provided with internet less than 4 Mbit / s and 96 schools do not have internet connection.

According to Chris Fabian, Kazakhstan has a very good situation in this regard.

“Kazakhstan is in a very good situation, one of the best in the region. Here, more than 80% of the population has internet access. At the same time, it is extremely important for us to bring it to 100%. And for UNICEF it is very important that every young person has the opportunity to get such opportunities,” he said.

On the eve of the forum “Digital Almaty: Digital Future of the Global Economy” in Almaty, Christopher Fabian met with the Prime Minister of Kazakhstan Askar Mamin. During the meeting, the prospects 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 were discussed.

For reference: GIGA is a funded initiative to connect every school to the Internet, and every young person to information, opportunities and choices.

According to Fabian, after the implementation of the initiative in Kazakhstan, it is planned to extend it to other countries of Central Asia.

“At the meeting, we also discussed the possibility of Kazakhstan to become the leader of this initiative in Central Asia. Tomorrow at the Digital Almaty forum, we will meet with partners from the private sector, various UN agencies to discuss how to implement this initiative and scale it to the entire region,” Fabian said.

To date, work is underway to find a model for financing the GIGA initiative in Kazakhstan.

“We are looking at different models, how to choose the right financing and how to implement it. That is, the idea is to create a multi-level financing model, which will include public funding and other sources of financing, including the private sector and other partners, to ensure investment in infrastructure and uniform coverage. Because we know that some schools in remote regions have a more complicated connection situation. But we are trying to find a financing model that will ensure the connection of all schools,” said the UNICEF senior adviser.

Christopher Fabian also noted that the Internet has a great influence on the future of the younger generation.

“We are confident that if a young person has internet access, she has much more opportunities for development, for employment. People who do not have access to the Internet receive less opportunities for quality education and for future development. Unfortunately, such a gap exists. That is why we are trying to work in different countries, including Kazakhstan, to bridge this gap and provide equal opportunities for everyone — for children and young people. That is why it is important to ensure the equal connection of all and provide them with equal opportunities for employment and gaining new knowledge,” Fabian said.

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