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Davos: Kazakhstan seeks slice of new industrial age


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Davos: Kazakhstan seeks slice of new industrial age

As world economies struggle with global growth challenges, the Davos forum is a chance to share ideas and solutions.

Amid plunging oil prices, energy-rich Kazakhstan has had a particular interest in this year’s themes of diversification and the fourth industrial revolution.

The country’s hosted an event – highlighting efforts to reform the economy and attract investment.

“When the price for oil and the price for commodities is quite low, it’s the perfect time to do reforms and we are going to do it together with the World Bank and with some other international financial institutions,” said Kazakh Prime Minister Karim Massimov.

“We are working very hard and we are looking forward to doing some more steps that, next year at the Davos forum, we can see some additional achievements that we can do in the future.”

Despite its vast reserves, Kazakhstan has long been aware of the need to lessen its reliance on oil and gas.

Reforms currently being brought in are aimed at opening up the country to new ideas.

“This is quite important for all of us – developing of the private sector and developing of the competition. It’s supporting SMEs. Those are three of the main targets of the current government policy,” explained Dossaev Erbolat Askarbetovich, National Economy Minister.

Reflecting the progress made in business reforms is a partnership agreement with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, signed in 2014.

Both it and the World Bank are urging the Kazakh leadership to push ahead with reforms globally.

Anabel Gonzalez, Senior Director at the World Bank, said: “You need to have a strategic vision. These reforms are not reforms per se. They are part of a broader picture of diversifying the economy, bringing about more growth, creating employment and I think Kazakhstan has had this big vision.”

Natalia Khanjenkova, Managing Director, Turkey and Central Asia, World Bank, added: “I was very impressed today with the point that was made that if you stop reforming it doesn’t mean the country will stand still. It will go backwards. It is very important to continue the very strong reforms.”

There are many challenges ahead. But Kazakhstan is determined not to be left behind in the fourth industrial revolution.

The country’s prime minster believe young people will have a big part to play.

“We are coming to a new stage of development. Kazakhstan is still not there. We are still in the present time, not at the future,” said Massimov.

“The youth in Kazakhstan, the educational system of Kazakhstan, the digitilisation of Kazakhstan, altogether, we should within the next two years – 2016 and 2017 – we should find the right answer to where we should go.”

Kazakhstan’s hosting the global Expo 2017 event next year in Astana. It will be a chance for the country to show off exactly how much progress it is making towards reforming and modernising its economy.

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