Internet Users in Kazakhstan Drive the Digital Expansion
Jan 20. MFA
The popularity of social media has definitively revolutionized the world, and Kazakhstan has become part of that global social village. Its people, especially younger generation, are the ones who are developing and pushing forward the “virtual life” of the country.
The development of the social media is both a grassroots youthful movement in Kazakhstan and that encouraged by the government. The goal is not only to get the youth online, but to focus on giving residents of the landlocked nation access to a globalizing world and its growing market. About one third of Kazakhstan’s population of 16.5 million uses the Internet.
Kazakhstan first registered the .kz internet code in 1994, with the first websites in Kazakh launched in 1998. But little was done to progress this registration – people did not really had access to the Internet until the advent of mobile technology in the mid-2000s.
To promote the use of the Internet in daily life, Kazakhstan’s E-government project was developed by the National Information Technologies JSC. The developers describe the project of e-gov as giving the opportunity to the citizens of Kazakhstan to solve all their questions via the internet. In the nearest future, people will not need to bring a bunch of papers with them, duplicate copies, or have them certified by notary public. There will be a single database, and the system will provide data about the citizen.
The government has nowadays gotten closer to the people, experts say. Communication with the authorities should be easier, and the internet is to play a huge role in this development.
In January 2009, Prime Minister Karim Massimov started his own personal blog, with the stated aim of giving high-quality, interesting and useful information to users interested in the activities of government and the socio-economic situation in the country.
The move encouraged cabinet ministers to start their own blogs on blogs.e.gov.kz as well as open their twitter accounts, which are being followed by thousands of citizens.
Gradually, the clarity and ease of interaction between the citizen and the state, which has already been discussed for a long time, is being built up. The relative accessibility of information technologies and the Internet to the general public can work effectively together to establish ease of communication between the state and the citizen.
Statistics shows that social media sites are among the most frequently accessed in the country. Number one is Russian social networking page VKontakte (http://vkontakte.ru), second is world leader Facebook (www.facebook.com) and in the third but not last place is another Russian site, Odnoklassniki (Classmates) (www.odnoklassniki.ru) as well as Moi Mir (My World) (www.my.mail.ru).
Like youth anywhere in the world, Kazakhs use not only Facebook, but MySpace, and YouTube – with YouTube being the go-to-site of choice for the latest in the Kazakh cultural, sport and of course political life. However, also highly popular are domestic video upload and broadcast sites such as http://kaztube.kz/, http://kiwi.kz, and http://podkatz.kz.
Blogging, however, started in Kazakhstan in 2006. It is just gathering pace and is not yet as widespread as the use of social media or blogging elsewhere in the world. However, youth do maintain blogs, using primarily local domains which host blogger communities. Among the most popular are Yvision (http://yvision.kz/), Tsentr Tiazhesti (http://www.ct.kz) and Blogging.kz (www.blogging.kz). The blogs are themed on everything, from beauty to cuisine.
Other two unique web services of particular mention which are drawing attention on a day-to-day basis are MyPay, Kazakhstan’s service of mobile payments (www.MyPay.kz), and an on-line shop Best for Friends (www.bff.kz).
For the purpose of creation and development of innovative means of cashless retail payments in Kazakhstan, the Intervale Kazakhstan LLP Company has implemented the MyPaykz project in cooperation with the Halyk Bank of Kazakhstan JSC. MyPaykz is an application (Midlet) which is installed on a mobile phone with an easy and user friendly menu for making payment transactions in real time from your bank card remotely using the methods of strong authentication. It provides an opportunity to pay with your bank card for goods and services in real time anywhere, anytime via mobile phone. The advantages of the service are that all transactions are made from one application; the service is available for the card holder of any bank in Kazakhstan; payment is made in real time; the service is available 24 hours regardless of the banks’ and pay offices’ working hours; unlike other similar projects you don’t need to enter codes and numbers, you just need to select the service from the list in the application menu (midlet) on your mobile phone.
The on-line shop BFF.kz sells Ipods, Ipads, tablets and other devices and its distinctive feature in comparison with other dozens of online stores that have recently started to appear is communication with their customers, including through social networks.
Blogging is a cheap and effective means of direct communication with the public. At the same time, the use of social media technologies as an everyday practice, not just in formal or mandated participation, can generate the image of a new generation.
All these trends developing today in Kazakhstan’s information space just confirm intensification and increasing the number of the Internet users driving forward the uptake of e-networks and e-services in the country.