The Vice Minister of Transport and Communications of the Republic of Kazakhstan Saken Sarsenov answered to the questions of the Kazakhstan Magazine.
Mr. Sarsenov, how does the telecommunications infrastructure in Kazakhstan develop nowadays?
The telecommunications sector is one of the key components of infrastructure complex, and, therefore, we pay special attention to the development of this sector, with the emphasis on implementation of advanced technologies. For example, today the development of broadband access to the Internet is based on such technologies as FTTH, CDMA/EVDO, 3G and 4G.
At the moment a project to provide broadband services using the technology of CDMA / EVDO is already implemented in the whole territory of Kazakhstan, and the total number of installed base stations reached to 630 units. This project is planned to be fully completed till the end of 2014.
In 2010 Kazakhtelecom JSC started building networks based on FTTH optical technologies, which allow increasing the access speed and improving the quality of services provided to subscribers. Optical access networks with the connection ability up to 50 thus. FTTH ports are already built, wherein the information transmission speed towards the subscriber reaches up to 100 Mbit/s.
Speaking of the geographical coverage, the networks of fiber-optic subscriber access were built at the facilities of all regional centers, as well as in the cities of Astana, Almaty, Semey, Zhanaozen, covering 9,511 apartment buildings and 5,634 cottage buildings under the implementation of the first and the second project stages in 2011–2012. As a result, as of the 1st of July 2013, the number of subscribers of the Internet broadband access by means of FTTN technology already reached 20,1275 subscribers. By 2015 it is planned to provide full coverage of all the cities and regional centers of the Republic.
As for the mobile communication, the third-generation networks of 3G standard are currently being introduced. This service is already provided in the cities of Astana and Almaty, in all regional centers and localities with the population of 50 thousand people and more. By 2015, the residents of the district centers and localities with the population of 10 thousand people and more shall get the network access.
In addition, at the end of 2012 in Astana and Almaty, the mobile network of 4G (LTE) standard was commissioned. By 2014, they shall be deployed in all regional centers, by 2015 in all localities with the population of 50 thousand people and more, and by 2018 in all regional centers.
On the 8th of January of this year, the Head of State signed the Decree “On State Program “Information Kazakhstan 2020”. Its implementation is aimed at the solution of issues on ensuring of the public administration system effectiveness, availability of innovation, information and communication infrastructure, creation of information environment for social, economic and cultural society development, as well as on the national information space formation.
There are indicators, specified by the program that should be achieved by systematic work. Thus, by “e-government” index, Kazakhstan by 2020 has to join the ranks of 25 leading countries of the world, so the share of public services, provided in electronic form, should reach 50%. We expect widespread automation in the spheres of national education and public health services. Also an important task is to bring the number of Internet users up to 75%, while the level of computer literacy, according to the experts’ assessment, shall reach the 80% of the total population of the Republic.
One call-center on the issue of public services provision, complaints acceptance and notifications about the public services status and availability shall be developed on the base of “electronic government” call-center in future.
One private citizen office shall be also established, for the official informational interaction of legal entities and individuals with the government agencies and organizations on the provision of public and private services, as well as for the personal data access. The number of the centers of public access to electronic services will be significantly increased, as well as the equipment of existing centers will be updated.
In general, we hope that this government will provide the possibility to make IT-based tools a real lever for diversification of such sectors as education and science, public health services, industry, transport, agricultural, power, housing and utilities infrastructure, environment, culture, tourism and sports.
Besides, under this program it is planned to introduce advanced technologies, based on the single “cloud platform” (G-Cloud). Today the server center of government agencies is already created and 13 significance data-centers of Kazakhtelecom JSC operate in the regions and cities of the Republic. At the same time, the introduction of the outsourcing model by the commercial companies shall exempt state agencies from the implementation of high-tech projects. There will be no need to purchase equipment and recruit staff. In this way, the expenses should be decreased, while the energy efficiency will be increased by 25%. The latter is particularly important in terms of EXPO 2017 implementation.
How is the project of e-government going on? What role does it play in terms of public services optimization?
We can estimate this sphere development at least by the fact that in the early 2000s “e-government” concept in Kazakhstan was not used at all, but today the interaction with government agencies in electronic form is an integral part of the lives of hundreds of thousands of Kazakhs.
Our success is also recognized by the international experts. Thus, our country took the 38th place among 190 countries in the United Nations rating on e-government index in 2012, moving up from the 46th place of the rating in 2010.
The modernization of the public sector, executed in Kazakhstan, is highlighted in the comments to the UN report, including the administrative management system reform, based on the high technologies, as well as the efforts on information and communication technologies use for the services provision to citizens.
At this moment there are about 195 services provided to natural and legal entities within “e-government” infrastructure at egov.kz, including 101 electronic services, 49 additional services, payment of 20 types of government fees, 17 types of stamp duties, 4 types of tax payments, 3 types of utility charges, as well as penalties for traffic rules violation. The web-portal also provides the information services.
Speaking about specific figures, in 2012 more than 20.7 million electronic services were rendered, and more than 12.5 million electronic services were rendered within the first six months of this year.
I would like to note that the public service, being converted into electronic form, is subjected to optimization that allows to eliminate the application of dozens of hard documents (due to their presence in government databases) and to reduce the time for the services obtaining. Let’s think, for example, about such service as “State registration (re-registration) of juridical entity, the account registration (re-registration) of affiliated branches and representative offices”. The provision of 7 documents was required before this service inclusion to the web-portal, and the period of its rendering lasted up to 14 days. Any documents are not required at all after the service optimization, and the rendering term was reduced to 1 day.
In addition, today, thanks to the fact that all of the central government and local executive bodies are connected to the Information System of State Database "E-licensing", from 2012, according to the Law "On licensing", all licenses are formed and issued in electronic form. Last year 19,740 licenses were issued by means of this information system, since the beginning of this year about 4,000 electronic consent documents were issued in this system. At the moment elicense.kz system offers the possibility to reduce the annual volume of correspondence, received by the state agencies from the public and business, by more than 10 million documents.
What public services will be transferred to electronic form in the nearest future?
In 2013 it is planned to automatize the procedure of receiving more than 200 consent documents. For example, such services, such as the “Submission of documents and enrollment for general education schools, boarding schools regardless of the ownership forms and departmental affiliation for studying of general secondary education programs”, "Submission of documents and enrollment for the higher education institutions for studying of higher professional education programs” and “Submission of documents for free meals receiving by the certain categories of trainees and pupils of general education schools” were recently launched on e-government portal.
“E-government” project is inextricably linked to the development of national electronic payment systems, mobile and Internet banking. How would you estimate the situation in this sector?
Currently, at e-government portal there are two acquiring banks, which provide online payment for utilities, taxes and assignments to the budget, as well as payment of penalties for traffic rules violation by VISA and MasterCard cash cards.
The first integration of e-government payment gateway (EGPG) with the acquiring bank system was implemented together with Kazkommertsbank JSC in 2011. The next acquiring bank, Halyk Bank of Kazakhstan JSC, was connected to the payment gateway in 2012.
For those who do not have bank cards, the web-portal provides the possibility to pay via the individual personal account in SB Sberbank JSC and by account-applications, formed at PGEG, via payment processing and terminals of Eurasian Bank JSC and Alliance Bank JSC, as well as by electronic money.
The law “On the Introduction of Amendments and Additions to Certain Legislative Acts of the Republic of Kazakhstan Regarding E-money Issues”, signed by the Head of State as of the 21st of July 2011, served as the incentive for the development of this financial instrument in Kazakhstan.
In 2013, the Kazakhs began to pay taxes and penalties via PGEG with increasing frequency. The number of transactions for the first half of the year exceeded 151.5 thousand (in 2012 it equaled to 47.6 thousand) and the total amount of payments increased more than 2.5 times, coming up to KZT 405.3 million.
The development of e-commerce market has a substantial potential. In 2011, its turnover in our country amounted to approximately $220–240 million that is approximately 0.45% of the total retail market. The implementation of the State Program “Information Kazakhstan 2020”, which sets out the target indicators for increasing of “e-commerce” share and trading volume of the Kazakhstan online stores, should take an important part in this market development.