New World Bank-financed project to support digital transformation in Kyrgyzstan

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Bishkek, March 22, 2018 / Kabar /. Citizens of the Kyrgyz Republic will have improved access to more affordable internet, better quality electronicgovernment services, and opportunities for digital skills development and new jobs, thanks to the US$ 50 million financing for the Digital CASA (Central Asia-South Asia) – Kyrgyz Republic Project approved today by the World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors. The project will be financed by a combination of a US$ 25 million grantand a US$25 million credit.

The objective of the Digital CASA - Kyrgyz Republic Project is to increase access to more affordable internet, attract more private investments in the ICT sector, and improve the government’s capacity to deliver digital government services in the Kyrgyz Republic.

The project is aligned withthe Kyrgyz government’s high priority initiative called Taza Koom, which means “Clean Society.” It is the Government’sDigital Transformation Strategy, envisioned to build a transparent and efficient public administration system that provides improved public services, based on digitalization and streamlining of administrative processes.The Digital CASA - Kyrgyz Republic project will build foundations for the implementation of this initiative, which is a crucial pillar ofthe country’s National Sustainable Development Strategy 2018-2040.

“The World Bank supports the digital transformation agenda in Kyrgyzstan and the Government’s Taza Koom program,as digital technologies can be a powerful enabler of inclusive and sustainable economic growth and development,” says Bolormaa Amgaabazar, World Bank Country Manager for the Kyrgyz Republic. “The Digital CASA - Kyrgyz Republic project will be instrumental in developing national and regional ICT infrastructure, promoting public sector reforms, unlocking Kyrgyzstan’s export potential, and creating new investment opportunities for Kyrgyz businesses, as well as new quality jobs for the people.”

The project will support thedevelopment of a regionally integrated digital infrastructure, promoting more affordable, high-quality internet access for the people by bringing in more private sector investmentsin network infrastructure development and service provision at the regional and national levels. It will also support building regional cloud-based datacenter infrastructure and platforms for the government and the private sector to deliver better and more secure services.Another important element of the project is the creation of an enabling environment for the digital economy through strengthening and harmonizing the laws and regulations related to the digital economy across the region.

The project will havea strong emphasis on crowding-in private investment towards closing the ‘digital divide’, empowering underserved communities, youth, and women, while improving the government’s capacity to deliver public services,” says World Bank’s Lead ICT Policy Specialist and Task Team Leader of the Project Juan Navas-Sabater.

The Digital CASA-Kyrgyz Republic Project is part of alarger integrative Digital CASA regional program, and Kyrgyzstan is one of the first two countries together with Afghanistan to joinit. The goal of Digital CASA is to integrate the landlocked countries of Central Asia and parts of South Asia into the regional and global digital economies to enable them to start reaping digital dividends.

The World Bank’s overall mission in the Kyrgyz Republic is to reduce poverty and promote economic growth and shared prosperity. Fifty percent of the World Bank’s assistance to the Kyrgyz Republic is in the form of grants. The other 50 percent is highly concessional credits with no interest and a 0.75 percent service charge. Credits are repayable in 38 years, including a 6-year grace period, while grants require no repayment. The Bank’s financial assistance to the Kyrgyz Republic since 1992 amounts to over US$1.5 billion in the form of grants and highly concessional credits.

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