Journal: Report Astana Economic Forum ASTEX 2013

I am back from speaking at the ITU/UN WSIS Forum in Geneva, and Astana Economic Forum ASTEX 2013. I have previously reported on WSIS so I will focus on the economic forum.

The Astana Economic Forum (AEF) ASTEX 2013, the largest in Eurasia, went very well. From post-event reporting, the total delegate count was over 12,000 with over 1,200 participating in the ASTEX 2013 (the ICT forum within the Economic Forum). Total country participation was over 132 countries.  Delegates included 35 current and former ministers, 10 Nobel Laureates and more than 40 heads of international organizations, corporations and businesses. 

Here are links to the speakers. If you click on the link by their names, you get their profiles:
Astana Economic Forum (AEF):
ASTEX 2013:

AEF News:
Daily News
ASTEX ICT Development Fund News:

Regarding the speech: Investors, industry and government delegates came up indicating their interest – they indicated the presentation was their favourite for the conference since it was focused, delivered measurable value, contained many usable resources. My theme: “In this presentation, we will first overview general ICT trends which underlie new education methods. We will next discuss ICT-focused SMART education trends, examples and models, Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) and new resources. Finally we will talk about the extensive innovation and research advantages of an online digital library (DL), using the experiences of the Association for Computing Machinery or ACM. The ACM is the world’s largest scientific, educational, professional computing association well known for their awards (example, Turing Award often considered the Nobel Prize of Computing), 35+ special interest groups (example, SIGGRAPH), 70+ publications/newsletters, learning center resources, 500+ conferences/events, live webcasts, videos, and 1.5 million users of their digital library.”

The day after my speech, I was invited to co-lead an impromptu workshop on education reform with participation from the Ministry of Education, the Chairman of their National IT Company (NIT), Director of E-learning for NIT, and international senior delegates from the conference.

During the event I was also invited to submit my recommendations on Open Government, E-Government, and E-Learning for a special output report from the Astana Economic Forum ASTEX 2013. I provided ten pages which was integrated into a final report and then requested to sign the final document. Post-event, the recommendations and my presentation deck were requested by the Chairman of the National IT Company (NIT) to guide strategy and for implementation.

Post-event, I was invited to share the experiences of Canada and the Canadian Information Processing Society (CIPS) on professional standards for ICT specialists, ICT qualifications framework, and ICT education system plus sit on an advisory board.

At the onset and from an intensive 5 hour exchange with the US Embassy, chief officer military cooperation, I learned much about the country, their history, culture, and particularly how advanced they are and a model for the region of 250 million people. In addition, I have an ongoing open invitation anytime I am in Astana to meet with the chief officer and the Embassy’s economic officer. The US Embassy is the largest in the region coincidentally only 300 meters (easy walking distance) from the two major pavilions hosting the economic forum.

Kazakhstan  is the model for the CIS region (Russian speaking countries) and now extending out globally to developing countries due to their rapid progress. They have an over 99% literacy rate and over 85% university transfer rate – most complete post-secondary education thus much higher than North America. Last year, they ranked 2nd by the United Nations in e-government e-participation tied with Singapore and at the ITU WSIS Forum in May 2013 (Geneva), they received the top award for e-business e-government– out of 193 countries. These are remarkable accomplishments in such a short period of time. I was at the ITU WSIS Forum ceremony in Geneva where National IT Company (NIT) Chairman Ruslan Ensebayev received the award. Ruslan is a brilliant, dynamic and courageous leader of NIT who has made tremendous strides with ICT for Kazakhstan. He has been chairman since his 20s’ and is now 32 – so remarkable achievements. In Kazakhstan, the leaders are purposely young to encourage new thinking, transparency, and democracy. Here is Ruslan at the ITU/UN WSIS 2013 talking about winning the top e-business prize:
ITU is the UN specialized agency governing and setting global standards for ICT. Their members include 193 country governments and over 700 fortune corporations/organizations.

My initial involvement came from the first IFIP World CIO Forum (WCF) where their country (ZERDE) Vice-Chair requested support—we met for 90 minutes in 2011 where she outlined their plans. The year prior to the WCF, I was invited to take on the role as WCF vice-chair.

During the week, I had breakfast with the Minister, good discussions with the Vice-Minister including dinner, and good discussions with their ZERDE ICT Chairman, ZERDE Vice-Chairman (including dinner), NIT Chairman (including dinner), ICTDF General Director, Vice-Rector for their International University (model for the country—courses are taught in English, they have a partnership with Carnegie Mellon, partnerships with leading companies like Apple, Microsoft), ZERDE Director of ICT (multiple lunches, dinners, she was my guide / driver / constant partner during my whole stay even taking me to the airport at 2am and staying almost until my flight arrived after 4am; the NIT chairman also assigned one of his managers to shadow me in case I needed added support, transportation, …), Director Ministry of Education …and many more … The ZERDE vice-chairman and ICTDF General Director picked me up at the airport when I arrived Sunday morning (about 12:05am). The country was amazing as host and to say I was well treated would be an understatement.

ZERDE is the holding company wholly owned by the government managing all of ICT through its multiple subsidiary 7 companies, research institutes, research parks and international IT university. For example, the largest IT company, NIT (National IT Company) is a ZERDE company.

Many other countries throughout the world and EU such as Korea and Germany are sharing, cooperating, demonstrating value delivery. Korea in particular has done a lot and are immersed in many projects. Kazakhstan is now on the road to EXPO 2017 (hosted in Astana), entry into the WTO, entry into the OECD (at their strong invitation), and will be investing multiple billions USD into their development.