[Alac-sc-outreach] Trip to Caucasus - Chapter 2 - Azerbaijan
roberto_gaetano at hotmail.com
Wed Jun 19 05:52:00 UTC 2013
Following up my previous report on Armenia, I would like to continue with
Azerbaijan. People who went to Baku for the IGF might have collected
different information: please feel free to point out where our observations
I had a good meeting with Faik Farmanov, from the AZ ccTLD. I contacted also
Yashar Hajiyev (ALAC), but our respective schedules did not fit and we could
have only short telephone chats.
The main points that came out from the discussion were (to the best of my
. The government is investing heavily in the infrastructure, for
instance there is a project to improve the connection in all provinces and
areas with fiber optics cable
. Azerbaijan feels part of Europe, it is a member of the Council of
Europe, last year it hosted the Eurofestival, in 2015 will host the 1st
European Olympic Games. At present, .AZ is neither a member of CENTR nor of
. There is a lot of coordination and communication about internet
matters between Azerbaijan and other countries. Because of history and
language, coordination is easier with other CIS (Community of Independent
States, i.e. former USSR Republics) countries and Eastern European
countries. However, there is no resistance to collaboration with any
. Technically, the .AZ operator is ready to implement IDNs, but this
is not felt to be a priority, also because there are only few characters in
the Azeri alphabet that are not part of the standard ASCII set [my personal
observation is that this situation is similar to German or French speaking
. At the time of the IGF last December an ICANN delegation including
Fadi has met with the President of Azerbaijan, so contacts have been held at
the highest level
. Azerbaijan is eager to participate to the funding of international
internet projects, provided that the coordination will be done in
Azerbaijan. Examples of potential domains are Cybersecurity and legal issues
related to the internet. Because of history, the legal systems in the CIS
countries are similar, and the similar need for training and creation of
UDRP entities exists in all of them.
To this, I would like to add some personal considerations.
I have travelled extensively, in cities and in rural areas, and have found
fair to good internet connectivity. I have experienced a difference between
cities and countryside, which confirms the feedback I had about the priority
that the government gives to connectivity for rural areas.
Also mobile phones seem to have excellent market penetration. However, my
personal experience is that the costs are not very low - although this might
well be a consequence of the fact that as a newcomer I could not get the
The country is relatively rich, due primarily to the income from the oil.
There is a huge effort in improving the infrastructure, for instance new
highways are being built or existing ones are being enlarged. There is also
an extensive amount of construction work going on, in Baku but also
elsewhere in the country. For instance, I have met Italian architects
working in Azerbaijan talking about huge construction projects.
All this to say that the progress of the country is visible, and although
the progress in building the internet infrastructure is not immediately
visible, all indicators would show a rapid development.
However, I believe that there is still a lot to do. For instance, once in a
mountain village I have been told that there was no internet in the whole
village because the cable was broken. In another case, in a small to medium
size city, the electricity went out following a heavy storm (causing of
course WiFi equipment and modems to fail). One person, not one of my
internet contacts, told me: "We need more time, but we are going to fix
The general feeling I have is that the "digital native" generation has not
matured yet. The cultural change that will bring people to think in term of
"always online" has not happened yet, at least not fully.
On the other hand, I was impressed by the interpersonal communication level
that took place, in spite of the language barrier, with people I had never
met before. I am wondering whether this human personal relationship that
takes place in the physical world is not going to be an obstacle that can
slow down the transition to virtual communication.
This might have an impact in our outreach strategy, in the sense that it is
a factor that has to be taken into account. I am under the impression that
only through interpersonal contacts we will be able to make progress in the
development of the AtLarge community in the country. Also, we need to use
the already existing links among the countries of the region, that are still
solid in spite of the difficulties at the political-diplomatic level.
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