Azerbaijani Government Open Forum

25 October 2013 - A Open Forum on Regional & National Initiatives in Bali, Indonesia

Agenda

This open forum will focus on the topic of bridging future bridges for the elimination of the digital divide within Trans-Eurasian region. Thus the “Digital Divide” refers to the divide between those who can benefit from digital technology and those who cannot which obvious throughout the Trans-Eurasian region. For instance according to the latest statistics, in the Trans-Eurasian region less than 1 in every 1,000 people have access to a computer compared to nearly 600 in every 1,000 in the developed world. Accordingly the concept of the digital divide can be explained from two perspectives: • The existing divide between those countries that have ample access to electronic research information and those that do not; and • The difference in Internet literacy and aptitude between the citizens of “developed” versus “underdeveloped” countries. For this reason, the Republic of Azerbaijan proposed a project, Trans-Eurasian Information Super Highway (TASIM), to undertake the effort of bridging the digital divide between European and Asian countries and establish the Eurasian Connectivity Alliance (EurACA). Accordingly EurACA/TASIM project aims to lay transnational fiber-optic line covering the countries of Eurasia from Western Europe to Eastern Asia.The line will combine the major centers of information exchange in Europe and Asia. The transit line will stretch through China, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey to Germany, likewise Reserve North transit line will pass through the territory of Russia, Ukraine and Poland.The resolution primarily envisages the establishment of the Eurasian Connectivity Alliance (EurACA) for making contribution to the development of telecommunication transit routes in the region and improving the coordination between the governments, private sector, civil society and international development institutions. On December 21, 2009 a resolution (A/res/64/186) was adopted at the 64th plenary meeting of the UN General Assembly for creation of superhighway EurACA/TASIM. The resolution, supported by the representatives of 30 countries, was adopted by consensus, and the special role of the Azerbaijan Republic was noted in coordination of EurACA/TASIM. On December 21, 2012 UN General Assembly adopted a new resolution (A/C.2/67/L.35/Rev.1) on the project EurACA/TASIM, initiated by the Government of Azerbaijan.As a result of the work carried out, EurACA/TASIM initiative was supported by various regions, and a number of influential UN member states acceded to it as a co-sponsor. The U.S., Australia, Belarus, China, Afghanistan, Georgia, India, Israel, Iraq, Canada, the Republic of Korea, Kuwait, Lebanon, Kazakhstan, Morocco, Moldova, Uzbekistan, Pakistan, Russian Federation, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Turkey, Ukraine, Japan, New Zealand and others are among them. The resolution recognizes that “information and communication technologies have the potential to provide new solutions to development challenges, particularly in the context of globalization, and can foster economic growth, competitiveness, access to information and knowledge, poverty eradication and social inclusion that will help to expedite the integration of all countries, particularly developing countries, into the global economy.” It also recognizes “the immense potential that building connectivity can have in contributing to social progress, including in advancing the status of women and promoting social integration and tolerance”. It goes on to stress the importance of strengthened and continued cooperation among all stakeholders to build and run information infrastructure, and encourages interested Member States to participate in the development of regional connectivity solutions. Finally, the resolution “recognizes the need to build connectivity in the region to help to bridge the digital divide, and in this regard welcomes the Trans-Eurasian Information Super Highway initiative and the readiness of the Republic of Azerbaijan to coordinate regional efforts aimed at realizing this initiative.” We will discuss this topic in the frame of Trans-Eurasian Information Super Highway (TASIM) project proposed by the Republic of Azerbaijan and to what extent is it feasible to eliminate the digital divide in the Trans-Eurasian region via EurACA.