We are now on our last leg of our 3-month trip and are leaving Europe on a day the Netherlands is sweltering in 37C, we basically had three months of unbelievable good summer weather.
The reason why we were attracted to Armenia is twofold. I was inspired by the passion for his country by my former UN Broadband Commissioner Armen Orujyan. Who is putting his personal effort in assisting Armenia to develop a modern digital economy and society. He is also the CEO of FAST.
|This organisation is building an ecosystem of innovation to lead scientists, technologists and innovators in Armenia and beyond to success on the global stage. With a focus on entrepreneurial endeavours, it empowers innovators to bring cutting-edge, commercially viable and globally competitive solutions to life. They partner with academic, governmental and non-governmental organisations alongside global players to explore and create what’s next. With fellowships, events and an innovation campus, they deliver opportunities to transform scientific thought into discoveries that shape tomorrow.|
During my visit I was invited to discuss my experience with digital and connected communities at the Sevan Startup Summit.
The 2nd reason was the rich history of this country, dating back to biblical times and earlier with mythical heroes linked to Noah, Mt Ararat was originally part of the country (now in Turkey). The country became the first one to accept Christianity as their national religion and this has resulted in large numbers of churches and monasteries dating back to the 5th and 6th century.
For most of its history the Armenia has been occupied by foreign rulers, that last one being the Soviets. This country in the South Caucus region of Eurasia gained independence after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. There are still significant social, political and economic problems, but progress is also here unstoppable. The country has just under 3 million inhabitants.
That the country is serious about its digital transformation can also be seen in the context of education and government administration.
It was reported that already in 2012 the percentage of schools online in Armenia had reached 100%. This had been helped to some extent by Project Harmony, an effort initiated in Armenia in 2000 to bring technology into the national secondary education system. The US-funded project has been heavily based on community involvement.
In the UN E-Government Development Index (EGDI) for 2014 Armenia had a score of 0.5897 (out of a possible 1.000) placing it 61st out of 193 countries. Looking at is size and level of developments this was seen as a positive score.
The most developed and rapidly developing sector in Armenia is the ICT and microelectronics. Today Armenia is a preferred destination for IT-related companies, such as Microsoft, Synopsys, IBM, Oracle, Cisco, etc. The export opportunities of the sector are developing quickly, 20-22% annual growth over the last five years. There is a vibrant startup community with a growing number of of them in disruptive technologies. In 2017, the number of actively operating ICT companies reached almost 650 (800, if start-ups are included), which indicates that the annual growth rate of more than 10% was maintained. Of these companies 69% are local companies. From 2007 through 2017, an estimated average of 43 ICT companies were established each year.
Another important feature of IT sector in Armenia is the shift from outsourcing to independent R&D. Thus, 78% of all the companies established in 2014-2015 were aiming for the development of their own IT products and services.
Armenia position on the Global Innovation Index – 2017 *
|Wikipedia yearly edits||7|
|Innovation efficiency ratio||17|
|ICT services export||22|
|Country code top level domains||51|
|ICTs and organizational model creation||58|
|Government’s online services||96|
*Armenia’s overall position was 59 out of 127 countries
“Smart City” Yerevan
The capital of the country since 1918 is Yerevan, it’s the 12th capital in the history of Armenia, it has approx. 1 million inhabitants (a third of the total population).
Yerevan Municipality, mobile operator VivaCell-MTS – also known as K-Telecom and Union of Employers of Information and Communication Technologies (UEICT) signed a memorandum of partnership, within the frames of which both parties will support the implementation of “Yerevan: Smart City” strategic program.
Its mayor expressed the city’s readiness to organise short-term and long-term projects, aimed at developing innovative solutions for identified municipal problems on all levels of its administration and operation.
Within its social investment program, VivaCell-MTS the city will support the implementation of the joint initiatives within the program, which are targeted to facilitate Yerevan’s further development by means of creating innovative city infrastructures.
The Union of Employers of Information and Communication Technologies also expressed readiness to participate in the elaboration and implementation of the program.