Central Asian economies are taking practical steps to push for a more knowledge-based path towards economic development to overcome their remoteness from major markets and exposure to fluctuations in commodity prices.
The Government of Tajikistan held discussions with domestic innovation stakeholders, peers from Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Turkmenistan, and international experts on options to strengthen the innovation performance of the country. Objectives range from ramping up investment in education and training, through channeling remittances into new business investments and attracting foreign investment and technology into key sectors (e.g. agriculture, food processing, light industry, water and energy), to improving the general business environment. The discussions were based on initial findings and recommendations from the Innovation Performance Review of Tajikistan currently being carried out by UNECE. Kazakhstan has already received an Innovation Performance Review and is working with UNECE to implement policy reforms. Measures include strengthening international cooperation on science, technology and innovation. The Kyrgyz Republic requested a similar Review for 2016.
The Governments also moved to improve internet connectivity both within their countries and between them and the rest of the world. Currently broadband access in Central Asia is limited, expensive and unreliable. To unlock the potential of better internet connectivity for knowledge-based development, the above countries and Pakistan are mapping current terrestrial broadband infrastructure and are analyzing the regulatory and economic environment for internet service provision. The analysis is undertaken by the Internet Society and UNESCAP together with the World Bank. It will provide the factual basis for coordinating the further development of broadband connectivity in Central Asia.
The international conference on “Practical Steps Towards Knowledge-based Development” was organized jointly by UNECE and UNESCAP and hosted by the Ministry of Industry and New Technologies of Tajikistan in Dushanbe in the framework of the 7th session of the Project Working Group on Knowledge-based Development of the UN Special Programme for the Economies of Central Asia (SPECA).
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Background information for editors:
Innovation Performance Reviews are participatory policy advisory services examining possible policy actions to raise the efficiency of national innovation systems and to improve innovation performance. The Reviews follow outlines agreed upon with requesting Governments, and are prepared in collaboration with international and national experts, and the UNECE secretariat. So far, Innovation Performance Reviews have been undertaken for Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Ukraine.
The United Nations Special Programme for the Economies of Central Asia (SPECA) was launched in 1998 to strengthen subregional cooperation in Central Asia and its integration into the world economy. The countries of SPECA are Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) jointly provide overall support to the Programme.
The Project Working Group on Knowledge-based Development (PWG on KBD) is a subsidiary body within the governing structure of the United Nations Special Programme for the Economies of Central Asia (SPECA). It was established following the decision by the Governing Council of SPECA taken at its second session (Berlin, 14 November 2007). It (i) promotes and supports policies on knowledge-based development in the member countries; (ii) facilitates cooperation in the initiatives related to knowledge-based development between the member countries and other regional initiatives; (iii) supports and coordinates capacity building and institutional strengthening activities and programmes related to knowledge-based development in the member countries; and (iv) serves as a forum for discussion on issues related to knowledge-based development, including information and communication technologies (ICT) related policy and regulatory issues.