- Posted December 10, 2012 by
New Silicon Shores on the Caspian Sea
The flush of petrodollars has altered the former Soviet republic forever.
The skyline of Baku—the country’s capital—has changed beyond all recognition.
A new Dubai is emerging on the shores of the Caspian.
With new oil wells and gas fields coming online, Azerbaijan will become a key player on the European energy market in the near future.
In addition, the country is about to experience a ‘boom’ of a different kind—in the high-tech field.
The non-energy sector is growing very rapidly.
This year it was 10 percent, while the energy sector slightly declined.
That shows that the proper use of wealth generated from the oil and gas sector to diversify the economy is working.
For Azerbaijan high-tech is not merely the road forward, but a trip in the fast lane.
Two out of three Azerbaijanis are members of the internet community, propelling growth in the ICT sector of 30% annually.
One reflection of the country’s technological leap forward is Bakutel – an annual telecom exhibition held in the capitol, which over the years has become the leading industry event in the region.
For local tech start-ups Bakutel is an opportunity to enjoy the international spotlight.
For Azerbaijan avoiding the oil curse is not the only challenge. Human Rights organizations have criticized the former Soviet republic for standing in the way of freedom of speech.
In opening its doors to delegates and media from all over the world to attend Bakutel as well as the UN-sponsored International Governance Forum, the government in Baku took a risk … which seems to have paid off.
To create a new Silicon Valley on the shores of the Caspian, Azerbaijan will require a new generation of highly educated specialists.
Western experts and companies are being asked for help.
In return, they will find a new, lucrative market and almost ideal investment opportunities.
After all, Azerbaijan has a very good investment climate, and Direct Foreign Investment per capita in Azerbaijan is the highest in the former Soviet Union.
While Azerbaijan, of course, would welcome for any country, for any company, to come to Baku, at the same time the local firms needs to lead by example.
And the government, from the state budget, is funding very important projects in the ICT sector to create not only the framework, not only rules and regulations, but also a ready infrastructure for the private sector to join.
The growing number of companies that have come to Baku from all over the world to open offices are the best evidence that Azerbaijan is an attractive place for investors.
Twenty years after independence the country is about to reach its next milestone: in early 2013 it is sending its first satellite into space, launching the country further towards a technological future.