Key Issues
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"Key Internet Policy Issues" is a series of contributions from people living in countries new or relatively new to the Internet about what they consider to be key policy issues related to the deployment and use of the Internet in their country. Each text is published under the complete responsibility and with the permission of its author. These contributions were solicited by Alan McCluskey, guest editor, in preparation for a special issue of the Internet Society's magazine "OnTheInternet" entitled "Strategies for development: from thought to action" to be published in November 1997. For more information and comments on the preparation of this special edition see "Addressing Key Policy Issues".

Creation of an academic network

The appearance of computer communications in Uzbekistan in 1990 was made necessary by the importance of exchange among scientists, academics, and governmental structures. At that time, it was only off-line connection. The Project on Economic Reforms and Development in Central Asia (PERDCA) - a non-profit organisation - was created in 1993 to provide off-line connection for local people free-of-charge. There were several sites in the main cities with free access to off-line users.

The Internet first appeared in Uzbekistan in 1995. There are several Internet providers such as PERDCA, SOVAM, RELCOM, UZPAK. Although PERDCA provides connection for off-line usage free-of-charge it charges for Internet connection, but only to cover telecommunication expenses. NGOs also use their Internet service free-of-charge.

Technical issues prevent the Internet from becoming more wide-spread in Uzbekistan. Only 3% of the people in the country have access to the Internet. There are several Internet providers in Tashkent working on up-grading telecommunications equipment (satellite dishes, fibre optic telephone lines).

On July 23rd 1997, the President of Uzbekistan issued a decree entitled "On measures to reorganise and improve the management of the information systems sector". The decree abolished the Ministry of Communications and converted it into the Uzbeck Postal and Telecommunications Agency. The main functions of the new agency as listed in the decree are 1) policy-making 2) streamlining the management of the sector 3) development and supervision for industrial standards compliance 4) promotion of market reforms in the industry, and 5) attraction of foreign investment.

There is tremendous interest in exploring the Internet on the part of scientific researchers, students and teachers. There are Ministries, governmental institutions, factories, and private organisations among the 3% who use the Internet. Now, work is being done on improving connections in this field, because the number of people who are interested in using the Internet is growing steadily.

The creation of an academic network, including not only universities, but also non-governmental organisations, would give an opportunity to help with the on-going economic reforms in Uzbekistan. Since the President's decree, PERDCA has been working on the creation of such a network with the Ministry of Higher Education and are currently seeking funding opportunities.

In my view, the Internet is important for the non-governmental sector as it enables them to work as a team to solve problems in such areas as social status, ecology, and mass media. Finding information and distributing it among non-profit organisations, which is the primary focus of my work, helps non-governmental organisations develop contacts and fund their projects. Amongst those who have benefited from this information are the Women's resource centre, the Women's social related project, Tashkent Association for Economic Co-operation with other countries, Junior Achievement and the Centre for Children Aesthetics Creativity.

Tatyana Klementieva, PERDCA, Uzbekistan

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ISSN: 1664-834X Copyright © , Alan McCluskey,
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Created: September 5th, 1997 - Last up-dated: September 5th, 1997