WB expects Azerbaijan to become regional ICT center
The World Bank offers Azerbaijan to develop the information and communication technologies transforming Azerbaijan into a regional ICT center, increase the domestic demand and develop the regulating environment.
The WB chief economist for Europe and Central Asia Mona Prasad and the bank's Country Manager for Azerbaijan Larisa Leshchenko met with Azerbaijani ICT Minister Ali Abbasov in Baku on July 25.
Prasad said that the purpose of the meeting is to discuss the issues outlined in Azerbaijan's Diversification Report and study advice and comments on the results of discussions and exchange views.
Prasad highlighted the effective work carried out on ICT, telecommunications, Internet, and the satellite industry in Azerbaijan over the past 10 years, saying achievements in this field contribute not only to the economy of Azerbaijan, but also to the economy of regional countries.
" Diversification in the ICT sector is regarded as a right step towards diversification of the economy. The World Bank supports diversification in three directions: physical capital, human capital and reforms of state institutions. These very directions are deemed as factors that ensure sustainable development of the economy of countries," she said.
Minister Abbasov, speaking about the relations between the ministry and the WB, cited the creation of suitable conditions for the development of financial services in Azerbaijan by using the existing platform of national postal operator Azerpost LLC, providing free access of the population in rural areas and small urban centers to banking and financial services, and successful work on offering customers a wide variety of services through local post offices.
He expressed hope that the cooperation with the World Bank would be continued in the coming years.
In June, the WB expressed interest in cooperation with Azerbaijan in the fields of broadband Internet, cyber security and e- government.
As of January 1, 2013, Azerbaijan held talks with the WB under 56 projects on financing credit agreements totaling over $ 3.122 billion.
The implementation of 36 projects worth $ 894.1 million is complete, and the execution of 20 projects worth more than $ 2.228 billion is underway.
As of January 2013, WB loans in the amount of over $ 1.714 billion, constituting 54.5 percent of the total amount of the attracted credits, were used. In 2012, Azerbaijan spent $ 393.4 million from the allocated funds.
In addition to these loans, the WB allocated 44 grants totaling $ 41.37 million for Azerbaijan in 1995- 2012.
The WB chief economist highlighted the effective work carried out on ICT, Internet, and the satellite industry in Azerbaijan over the past 10 years.