Bishkek, November 20, 2014 – On November 18-19, 2014, Open Data Days were held in Bishkek as part of the government’s efforts to develop electronic governance in the Kyrgyz Republic. Representatives of government agencies, civil society and the business community, as well as international experts, convened for roundtables, workshops and discussions on the opportunities of using open data for the country’s economic and social development. These events were organized at the initiative of the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic, with support from the United Nations Development Program and the World Bank.
Government officials from various ministries and agencies were the first to find out about the economic and social value of using Open Data during a roundtable on November 18, 2014, which was attended by Prime-Minister Djoomart Otorbaev, UNDP Deputy Resident Representative in the Kyrgyz Republic Pradeep Sharma, World Bank Country Manager for the Kyrgyz Republic Jean-Michel Happi, as well as representatives of diplomatic corps and international organizations in the Kyrgyz Republic.
“We have requested assistance of international organizations to help our government officials in learning how to provide Open Data. Open Data implies providing services of informational character that are free for the public. We need to adopt the best practices in order to effectively provide Open Data to citizens,” said Prime Minister Djoomart Otorbaev at the Open Data roundtable with participation of government agencies.
The government agencies in the Kyrgyz Republic are considering introduction of the Open Data Initiative as one of the enabling mechanisms for effective and transparent electronic governance. In addition, disclosing government data allows government agencies to improve the quality of public services and build public trust in their activities. The relevance of allowing open access to various types of government data is also linked to the growth of Internet usage in the Kyrgyz Republic. This initiative has been included in the Action Plan of the Program for Introducing E-Governance in the Kyrgyz Republic in 2014-2017, which was approved on November 10, 2014.
“We recognize the need to leverage the potential of Information and Communication Technologies for social and economic development in the Kyrgyz Republic, and we view the Open Data Initiative as an integral part of this effort,” said Jean-Michel Happi, World Bank Country Manager for the Kyrgyz Republic. “In fact, our World Development Report 2016 will be titled “Internet and Development” and will cover Open Data as well, which is a testament to the growing importance of the ICT and Open Data innovations in the development agenda today. We are glad that the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic shares this perspective, which is reflected, in particular, in the new e-Government Program of the Kyrgyz Government.”
During the open discussions on the value of Open Data for the Kyrgyz Republic, civil society organizations and members of the business community presented significant arguments to support the need for open data, and also identified existing problems in searching and accessing information owned by government agencies. “Unfortunately, the government often closes or significantly complicates the process of accessing basic information for the civil society organizations and business companies. Disclosing data on trade, exports and imports, general layout of cities, and the situation in the rural areas of the country will allow us, private companies and non-governmental organizations to substantially decrease time expenditures and financial expenses”, said representatives of the business community.
The usage of Open Data for developing user-friendly mobile applications and information resources was discussed during an informal meeting with ICT experts organized with support from the Soros-Kyrgyzstan Foundation. Experts from the Netherlands and Moldova also shared their experiences with Kyrgyz IT developers on creating such resources.
The 2014 Open Data Days were the first event to introduce this initiative in the Kyrgyz Republic. Learning about the experiences of other countries in promoting Open Data is believed to contribute to an increase in the public’s understanding of how civil society and business can take part in the government’s activities. Currently, the World Bank and UNDP are working together on an assessment of the country’s preparedness for introducing Open Data. This analysis will assess the capacity of government agencies and help identify Open Data priorities and entry points for civil society and the business community.
The World Bank’s overall mission in the Kyrgyz Republic is to reduce poverty, promote economic growth, and encourage a better quality of life. Forty five percent (45%) of the World Bank’s assistance to the Kyrgyz Republic is in the form of grants, the other fifty five (55%) is in highly concessional credits – no interest, and only a 0.75 percent service charge. Credits are repayable in 38 years, including a 6-year grace period. Grants require no repayment. Financial assistance to the Kyrgyz Republic since 1992 amounts to over 1 billion U.S. dollars, in the form of grants and highly concessional credits.