Cloud Paves The New Silk Road For Kazakhstan In Central Asia

Jacqueline Vanacek

Map of Kazakhstan with Uzbekistan to the southWhen I met with Kazakhstan officials to consult on their G-cloud, it was clear that cloud computing can have an enormous impact to help Kazakhstan modernize its government and diversify its economy.

Kazakhstan is the economic crown jewel of Central Asia, having achieved independence from the former Soviet Union in 1991. The region sits at the crossroads of Europe, Asia and the Middle East and boasts some of the fastest growing emerging economies in the world.

Kazakhstan is at the center of the historic Silk Road, where trade routes crossed to pass ideas, goods and people between continents.

As the largest former Soviet territory, Kazakhstan possesses enormous fossil fuel reserves, minerals and metals. Mining, agriculture and extraction and processing of natural resources drive the economy. Tourism, telecommunications and financial services are growing.

Today, Kazakhstan has grown its foreign trade by 40% and GDP by 7.5%. Investment has led to nearly 400 new industries, 90,000 industrial sector jobs and 60 new businesses that produced 2 billion dollars of products.

With its significant technology investment, Kazakhstan can use cloud solutions to both reinvent government and spur business innovation and competitive advantage.

In cloud for government, reconciliation of data privacy laws within and between countries is slowing adoption. But Kazakhstan’s common legal framework might allow for faster adoption to modernize government at all levels – and perhaps leapfrog other countries in doing so.

And the mobile-cloud model is ideal for Kazakhstan. It can overcome geographic limitations to deliver consistent services to even the most remote citizens who have no direct access to IT infrastructure.

In cloud for business, agriculture can benefit from solutions like Farmeron, a Croatian start-up that offers Software as a Service to automate farming operations end-to-end.

Oil and gas can use digital oilfields Software as a Service that is now available. The cloud will make this highly complex simulation software more accessible to pinpoint future drilling opportunities.

Telecommunications and financial services can use social media data from the cloud to profile customer preferences to a) tailor financial offerings or b) target mobile advertising to grow sales.

Large enterprises use cloud computing to partner opportunistically to move goods and services more efficiently. The cloud can transform Kazakhstan’s supply chains with real-time collaboration around predictive data.

For Kazakhstan’s small businesses, the cloud levels the playing field for emerging markets trying to compete against global leaders. And small businesses can launch new operations quickly with less up-front cost and risk.

For Kazakhstan’s ICT sector, I was pleased to address the Forum at DIGICOM2012. I shared best practices from Silicon Valley venture capitalists and serial entrepreneurs on how cloud accelerates start-ups.

I was delighted and impressed with the energy of Kazakhstan’s young entrepreneurs. Their creative ventures cover automated time capture, emergency monitoring, online customer surveys, accounting, ticket sales, gamification of standardized testing and much more!

And what a surprise that the winner of the Forum was a young woman, Zhanna Prashkevich, whose venture aggregates early announcements of events for bloggers and journalists.

I look forward to my continued engagement with Kazkhak educators to access Silicon Valley ideas as they build their in-country resources to nurture this important ICT sector.

Finally, in my interview with Kazakhstan BNews, I had suggested that we perhaps bring two initiatives together by incenting start-up entrepreneurs to develop mobile and cloud applications that modernize government.

That might be a great way to build in-country knowledge to grow Kazakhstan’s ICT sector and reinvent government at the same time.

So keep your eye on Kazakhstan’s move to the cloud. They might just be an emerging benchmark to emulate!

This article originally appeared on  Follow Jacqueline on Twitter @JacquelnVanacek for cloud to reinvent government and the economy.