Due to successful foreign and internal policy, implemented reforms and the large-scale projects fulfilled in the Republic of Azerbaijan, dynamic development has been reached in the economic, social and political spheres of public life. This development, which is accompanied with the democratization of the society and the improvement of welfare of the population, has increased international prestige of the republic, defense power and economic potential, and thereby has created solid pre-requisites for the participation of Azerbaijani state as an equitable actor of the globalizing world and for entering into the list of the developed countries.
The information and communication technologies, which are announced as one of the priority areas of the sustainable and steady development policy of Azerbaijan, has rapidly penetrated into all fields of social and economic system and daily human activity and turned into integral part of the public economic relations in the current phase.
The Internet started to develop in Azerbaijan in 1993. The first Azerbaijani website was created in 1994 by the National Academy of Sciences of Azerbaijan, and the website of the President of Azerbaijan Republic, which was founded in 1997, became the first public Internet resource. Administration of the national top-level domain AZ has been carried out since 1993.
From the first days the Internet developed by mainly private sector. Until 2000, the activities of Internet service providers (ISP) were conducted under a special permit (license), but in 2000 the licensing of such services was canceled, as a result of this any natural or legal person in the country is free to engage in the activity.
ISPs operate in a healthy competition and a free market environment. Companies use wired and wireless communication technologies for access to the Internet. Application of WiMax and other wireless technologies are expanded.
Connection of the country to the international Internet network is provided by two private companies (Delta Telekom and Azertelekom), which creates an alternative choice for ISPs.
All three mobile operators in the country provide its subscribers with high speed internet access and provide 3G services. In general, if we take into account the fact that mobile penetration in Azerbaijan exceeded 100%, then we can actually say that every person has access to the Internet.
The broadband access to the Internet in the country started in 2006, and in recent years there has been significant growth in the number of broadband internet users.
The main reason for this is the result of the execution of public policies carried out for the development of ICT sector in the country, the expansion of e-government projects, increasing the role of the Internet in rendering of services.
Formation of e-government in Azerbaijan is one of the important tasks resulting from the “National Strategy for information and communications technologies for the development of Azerbaijan Republic” approved by the national leader Heydar Aliyev in 2003. The special attention and direct control of President Ilham Aliyev to this issue has created conditions for the introduction of e-government ideas in public administration and in all areas of social life, to establish relations between officials and citizens in a new mode in order to ensure transparency and to satisfy information demand.
Work on the creation of e-government has accelerated substantially since the adoption of the “State Program on development of communication and information technologies in Azerbaijan Republic in 2005-2008” (Electronic Azerbaijan), and the work is now continued in accordance with the second State Program Electronic Azerbaijan, covering 2010-2012 years, and the program of activities for the formation of “e-government” in the country. Along with these programs, the project “e-government’ is being implemented within 20 state programs approved on economic and social areas. Formation of the necessary legal and regulatory framework and infrastructure for the activities of e-government, the introduction of e- payment systems has created good conditions to simplify the relationship between the population and government agencies, to provide high-quality services, to establish business activities in accordance with modern requirements. In order to use an electronic signature in the country, created public key infrastructure (PKI), and National Certificate Services Center were established and in September 2011 the Center began issuing electronic signatures to public authorities, citizens and business entities. The introduction of e-signature will serve to increase the use of electronic services by the population, the provision of a high quality and safe services and the promotion of e-government and e-commerce.
At present the majority of the top 20 e-services are provided in the country, rendered to civil society and the business sector in the EU, including: issuing official documents, customs and tax returns, statistical reports, job search through the employment agencies, accepting of electronic applications for participation in test examinations for admission to universities and civil service, etc. Decree # 429 of the President of Azerbaijan “On some measures in the field of provision of electronic services by public authorities” dated May 23, 2011 put in the forefront the organization of e-services, and accelerated the work on the organization of public administration based on modern principles, increase the efficiency and transparency of government agencies and prevent corruption. With the view of fulfilling tasks emanating from the provisions of the decree, regulations were developed in accordance with international experience, range of e-services were determined and approved by the Cabinet of Ministers of Azerbaijan Republic for the central authorities to provide services in electronic form. E-services rendered by public authorities, in particular those that are carried out in direct contact with the public, including: registration of private entrepreneurs and companies with limited activity with local investment, issuing statements and certificates on real estate, the declaration of imported and exported goods, reporting on mandatory state social insurance and information about the insured person, receiving applications for targeted social aid, installation of telephone and Internet connection, etc. have been provided in electronic form and work in this direction continues.
State portal www.e-gov.az was placed in operation to create conditions for the citizens to benefit from e-services provided by government agencies on a ‘single window’ principle, which combines the services here. Currently, through e-government portal citizens can use 132 e-services of 26 state agencies. Along with the portal, a gateway e-government was also established in order to ensure mutual exchange of information between government agencies, and 34 state agencies are connected to this infrastructure. The gateway E-Government provides efficient use of the existing government information systems, ensuring a safe contact between them, when issuing queries and rendering e-services, makes it possible not to ask citizens of the documents available in information systems.
Organizational activities on the formation of e-government, including the execution of the tasks arising from the instructions on the organization of e-services are being continued.
The current status
As a result of activities implemented within the framework of “State Program on Development of Communications and Information Technologies in the Republic of Azerbaijan in 2005-2008” and the consistent public policy fulfilled in the area of development of the sector, the incomes from ICT and the postal sector have constantly increased in the last 5 years and the average annual growth made up 25%. During that period the volume of investments in ICT sector exceeded AZN 850 million.
The special weight of the electronic Automatic Telephone Systems (ATS) has been increased from 55.5% to 87.1% countrywide and from 63.9% to 90% in the telephone network of Baku city in the last 5 years in order to improve the quality of telecommunication services rendered for the population and to enlarge its diversity. As a result of the works fulfilled in the area of modernization of the fixed network operators, the capacity of common use of the fixed telephone network increased by 45%, and the number of basic telephones – by 38.1%. Now the number of basic telephones per 100 persons is 16 pcs, while in Baku city this number equals to 34.4 pcs, in other regions of the country this indicator equals to 10.5 pcs. 86.2 mobile telephone subscribers fall to the share of every 100 persons.
The telephone networks of 24 cities and regions of the country have been reinstalled and fully electronolized. The application of “New Generation Networking” (NGN) technologies was launched in Azerbaijan for the first time among the participant countries of CIS. Now besides telephone networks of Sumgait and Baku, NGN technologies are applied in several regions, and in the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic as well. In the remote territories and settlements, where it is geographically impossible to telephone by physical line, the telephone communication has been provided through installation of satellite facilities. Thus, all settlements in the country have been already telephoned by 2008.
The wireless communication based on the CDMA technologies has been put into operation in 24 regions of the country and the services of this network have covered the territory, where 63% of the country population resides.
In order to improve the quality of telecommunication infrastructure countrywide the fiber-optic cable high-way connecting regions of Azerbaijan has been built and put into operation, as well as 90% of regional centers of the country has been connected to each other by the optical line.
564 new post office buildings have been built and put into operation countrywide during the last 5 years. Within the framework of the project of “Development of Financial Services” implemented with the financial support of the World Bank, in the regions where the rehabilitation of the existing infrastructure of “Azerpost” State Enterprise and the automation of its operations are implemented, the works aimed at development of new postal and financial services in addition to the traditional postal services are being carried out.
Significant strides have been made in this direction in Azerbaijan in recent years for mass distribution of information technologies and for the development of this area, success has been received due to government support and care.
Information and communication technologies (ICT) have entered into a new stage of development in the country. ICT opportunities are widely used in the interaction of government agencies, businesses and the population now. The ICT sector was declared to be the second priority area after oil industry. It is no coincidence, in his speeches President Ilham Aliyev repeatedly emphasized the exceptional importance of information technologies for the country’s economy.
Today relevance and value of the use of ICT in business, politics, governance, public health, culture, science, education, industry and other fields were fully understood in the public awareness. Nowadays creation of civil society, which has ample opportunity to obtain information, is an important step for the future of human civilization. Nowadays it is an opportunity to learn to build strong civil society is an important step towards the future of human civilization.At present introduction of ICT promotes socio-economic development of every country and plays an effective role in the issue of poverty reduction.In Azerbaijan, the basic features of the computerized society is the creation of the global information environment, the emergence of new forms of socio- economic activity (distant education, e-commerce, flexiplace, e-democracy and e-government), the formation of the market of information and knowledge, the development of means of communication at various levels , ensuring the rights to reception, distribution and use of any information by citizens and organizations, etc.
The process of informatization of society will raise productivity in all sectors of economy, lower prices, introduction of e-document circulation system in state authorities, promote e-commerce, improve the quality of products and services.