Increased coverage of communication networks and ICT infrastructure
High-speed broadband Internet access is an important component of ensuring electronic citizen participation. In order to bridge the digital divide, Kazakhstan is constantly working to improve the availability of ICTs and expand telecommunications infrastructure, especially in remote and rural areas.
The "Digital Silk Road" initiative of the state program "Digital Kazakhstan" includes modernization of satellite communication system, development of fiber-optic communication lines up to rural settlements, increase of transit potential and digital TV and radio broadcasting network.
Broadband Internet access in rural areas of the Republic of Kazakhstan is provided on the basis of fiber-optic communication lines (FOCLs), as well as satellite technologies. Within the framework of "Digital Kazakhstan", one of the priority projects is the construction of fiber-optic communication lines in more than 1200 rural settlements on the basis of public-private partnership. Coverage of FOCLs in rural areas of Kazakhstan will provide modern high-speed communication services to more than 2.1 million people.
The operation of mobile communication base stations, satellite communication channels for the needs of government agencies, national companies and private organizations, as well as television broadcasting throughout the country is ensured by the KazSat space communication system consisting of two communication satellites, KazSat-2 and KazSat-3. Since the service life of the KazSat-2 spacecraft expires in 2023, the commissioning of the KazSat-2R space communications system will be completed by that time. The program also provides for the development of a new generation of 5G mobile networks.
All this contributes to the expansion of access to the Internet and the development of fixed-line communication infrastructure, which, in turn, affects the expansion of electronic participation of citizens.
Wi-Fi hotspots in Kazakhstan cities
The use of smartphones in Kazakhstan is growing day by day, and this is a really big advantage for the expansion of electronic participation. The use of a smartphone is particularly common among young people and the educated population representing the most active users of electronic services. In turn, when using mobile devices, a large role is played by the widely available public Internet.
Today, public Wi-Fi hotspots are available in all cities of Kazakhstan. Wi-Fi technology is designed to access the Internet over short distances and at the same time with a fairly high speed. A Wi-Fi network is formed from hotspots. Each point is surrounded by an area within a radius of 50-100 meters, called a hotspot or Wi-Fi zone.
Nowadays, Wi-Fi zones cover more and more space, educational institutions and cafes, hotels and parks, railway stations and airports. It is enough for a modern person to have a smartphone to connect to the Internet.
In Kazakhstan, the Wi-fiMAP project provides search for Wi-Fi hotspots in cities. The project was created by order of the national communications operator Kazakhtelecom JSC. To find the desired Wi-Fi hotspots, you need to select a city from the list. You can select from a list of hotspots by rating or address.
Social networks as a tool for interaction between the state and citizens
With the spread of information and communication technologies in Kazakhstan, in particular smartphones, the number of users of social networks is growing. Heads of the central state and local executive bodies, as well as officials and deputies do not stay aside and open accounts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to communicate with the public.
Such platforms are an excellent example of e-participation, as they provide an opportunity to hear the real voice of citizens commenting and provide a quick response. Building constructive dialogue helps to quickly address many issues and also increases citizens' trust.
Most Kazakhstani politicians who become active on social networks prefer to use Facebook. In their positions, officials address important public issues, encouraging citizens to participate in the discussion, and provide information and announcements on behalf of the public authorities they represent. In addition, on the pages of some officials you can find posts with the discussion of draft laws, video messages, cultural news and congratulations on holidays.
President of the Republic of Kazakhstan Kasym-Zhomart Tokayev instructed akims to work more actively in social networks in order to respond to the needs of the population. The President himself has been a Twitter user for many years and has recently opened an official page in Instagram. In addition, Akorda.kz has a Virtual Office of the President, which is designed to help identify the most acute social problems in order to solve them quickly.
Local executive bodies of Kazakhstan have already started the implementation of participatory budgeting. For instance, in Pavlodar region it is planned to implement independent budgets in 126 rural districts. This information is published on the official website of Pavlodar region.
Independent budgets were approved on January 1, 2018 in 32 regional localities with population over 2 thousand people to ensure consistent enhancement of community administration heads` independency in solving issues of local significance.
To ensure financial independence of local administrations, 7 types of tax and non-tax revenues were transferred to villages` budgets to finance the expenses in the fields of education, social assistance, housing and utilities infrastructure, culture, health and fitness activities, construction, roads maintenance and so on.
As of July 1, 2019, the total rural budget amount is KZT 5.7 billion.
Since January 1, 2020, it is planned to approve independent budgets in other 94 localities.
Crowdfunding to help affected citizens in Arys
On June 24, 2019, in Arys city, Turkestan region, Kazakhstan, a massive explosion took place. Ammunition stored at the warehouse on the territory of military unit exploded. Over 40 thousand local residents were evacuated to Shymkent, where evacuation points were installed and tangible assistance reception points were organized.
The emergency necessitated to mobilize all the required resources for active participation of public and join the efforts of government, private sector, civil society and other parties to provide assistance to affected residents.
Concerned citizens and volunteers initiated the gathering of humanitarian aid and online fund raising nationwide for Arys residents, who were left homeless. Personnel from government agencies and organizations enumerated their one-day incomes for the benefit of Arys residents.
“Turkestan” fund that operated with the assistance of Shymkent city Administration to gather humanitarian aid for the affected residents raised over KZT 213 million.
The StartTime crowdfunding platform raised KZT 68 thousand in just an hour and the total sum raised was KZT 2 791 626. Raised money were transferred to deliver medical and psychological assistance to affected people, and also to provide food products.
The national “Atameken” chamber of entrepreneurs initiated online fund raising and appealed to business community to support the affected Arys residents. For example, entrepreneurs from Akmola region gathered over KZT 5 million.
Mobile service providers assigned a non-repayable volume of communication services to Arys residents. Non-governmental organizations, public officials and volunteers nationwide were fully involved and delivered comprehensive assistance.