The main international organization that the Republic of Azerbaijan cooperates in the telecommunication area is the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) that is a specialized agency of UN for the Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) issues.
ITU was founded on 17 May 1865 as the International Telegraph Union. The primary task of ITU is to establish links of communication among people all over the world regardless of their place of habitance. Through its work ITU protects and supports each everyone’s right to communicate. ITU owns the unique feature within the specialized agencies system of UN, thus, ITU has the members both from public and private sectors. Besides 193 member-states, academic institutions, regulators, and approximately 700 private companies are the members of ITU as well. The headquarters of ITU is located in Geneva, Switzerland. ITU has 12 regional and field offices worldwide.
ITU that is established on the basis of international cooperation principle among governments (member-states) and private sector (sector members, associations and academies) is the global forum where the comprehensive issues of ICT are discussed and solved by consensus.
The Republic of Azerbaijan became a member of ITU on 10 April, 1992. The Republic of Azerbaijan has close mutual relations with ITU. The relevant delegations of the Republic of Azerbaijan participate in the meetings held within the framework of ITU during the year. At the same time, the representatives of ITU had official visits to the Republic of Azerbaijan during the various years.
On the exhibition and forum “ITU Telecom World” held in Geneva on 5-9 October 2009, there were participated huge delegation of the Republic of Azerbaijan that included representatives of appropriate government bodies and ICT companies. The projects, services as well as the information on the solutions of the problems related to ICT had been demonstrated on the Azerbaijan pavilion.
At the annual forum of the World Summit on the Information Society held on 16-20 May, 2011, the Republic of Azerbaijan was represented with the Delegation headed by the Deputy Minister of Communications and Information Technologies. There were participated overall 1150 participants including Information and Communication Technologies' Ministers, deputy ministers, Ambassadors, the head of well-known telecommunication companies representing 140 countries of the world. More than 100 individual sessions on 12 various topics and 6 parallel directions, as well as 5 high-level segments and dialogue meetings, 17 interactive meetings, 25 thematic seminars, 6 country presentations, exhibitions, open consultations, meetings on knowledge exchange and other events were organized. Within the framework of the high level segment of the forum, Deputy Minister of Communications and Information Technologies of the Republic of Azerbaijan delivered a speech as a panelist, and informed the participants about the works and implemented projects in Azerbaijan. At the meeting of Broadband Commission organized within the Forum, the Permanent Mission informed the participants about the works on the communication and information technologies sphere done in Azerbaijan.
On 24-27 October 2011, the “ITU Telecom World 2011” worldwide telecommunication exhibition-conference was held. The Azerbaijani delegation headed by Mr. A.Abbasov, the Minister of Communications and Information Technologies, including 65 member delegation from the companies operating on the communication technology areas, as well as a number of state bodies including the professionals on this area attended the conference. The exhibition dedicated to the global telecommunication and information technologies was held within the framework of “ITU Telecom World 2011”. Azerbaijan was represented with a separate national pavilion at the exhibition. Besides, as a media sponsor of “ITU Telecom World 2011” Azerbaijani side has organized the press conference.
The 4th meeting of the Commission on the Development of Broadband and the Summit of Leaders was held on 24 October, 2011. During the panel discussions Mr. A.Abbasov, the Minister of Communications and Information Technologies, as a commissioner delivered a speech on the reforms realized on ICT sector, and informed the participants about the regional primary projects, especially TASIM (Trans-Eurasia Super Information Magisterial) project, launch of the first artificial satellite into orbit, and about other regional and essential global projects.
Mr. Hamadoun Touré, Secretary General of ITU during his management at the organization had repeatedly visited Azerbaijan. This is one of the main indicators that show the high level of our cooperation with the ITU. During his visits Mr. Ilham Aliyev, the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan has received Mr. H. Touré and had discussions about the current situation, development trends and international cooperation perspectives of ICT in our country. This was the indication of interest in establishing high level ties with ITU.
Mr. Hamadoun Touré, Secretary General of ITU with the purpose of participating in Bakutel International Telecommunication exhibition-conference had a visit to Baku on 22-26 November 2011. During his visit Mr. H.Touré met with Mr. Ilham Aliyev, the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan and Mr. A. Abbasov, the Minister of Communications and Information Technologies, had a comprehensive discussions about the mutual relations of the country with ITU.
As a result of high level cooperation with ITU, there was a next official visit of Mr. Hamadoun Touré, Secretary General of ITU to Azerbaijan on 4-7 November, 2012. During the visit Mr. H.Touré participated in 47th session of Regional Union Council on Communication sector and 18th session of CIS member-states Coordination Council on Informatization, as well as 18th Azerbaijan International BakuTel-2012 Exhibition and Internet Governance Forum held in Baku. Within the visit Mr. Ilham Aliyev, the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan has received Mr. Hamadoun Touré, Secretary General of ITU on November 6. During the meeting Mr. H. Touré mentioned that since 2003 he is visiting Azerbaijan and every time witnessing the essential development in the country. By reminding President Ilham Aliyev’s participation in Geneva summit of ITU, Mr. H. Touré emphasized that the words of the President Ilham Aliyev “black gold will be transferred to human capital” had already became a reality today. At the same time, Mr. H. Touré noted that VII Internet Governance Forum was organized at the high level and stressed the importance of expanding the cooperation between the country and the organization. Mr. Ilham Aliyev noted the great successes in non-oil sector, as well as in the information and communication technologies sectors within last 9 years. The President noticed also the importance of organizing VII Internet Governance Forum in Baku and valued it as an indicator of provided value by ITU to the works done in this sector in the country.
Taking into account that the Decree signed by Mr. Ilham Aliyev, the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan declared the year of 2013 as “the Year of Information and Communications Technologies in Azerbaijan”, the cooperation with ITU was defined as one of the priorities for the Permanent Mission.
As a result of high level cooperation with ITU, the next official visit of Mr. Hamadoun Touré, Secretary General of ITU to Azerbaijan was on 1-3 December, 2013. During the visit Mr. H. Touré together with Mr. Ilham Aliyev, the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan participated in the “BakuTel-2013” Azerbaijan International Telecommunication exhibition-conference. Besides, Mr. H. Touré addressed a letter to Mr. Ilham Aliyev expressing his gratitude for the contributions made to the “ITU Telecom-2013” event.
The World Summit on Information Society Forum was held on 13-17 May 2013 in Geneva. With the initiative of Azerbaijani side the thematic workshop on “TASIM/EuraCA: New Platforms for Improving Connectivity in Eurasia” was held within the Summit. During the Workshop the Deputy Minister of Communications and Information Technologies of the Republic of Azerbaijan delivered a speech and informed Mr. H. Touré and other participants about the Trans Eurasian Super Information Highway (TASIM) project.
The next sessions of the ITU Council were held on 11-21 June 2013 and 6-15 May 2014 in Geneva. On 1-26 July 2013 within the substantive session of ECOSOC the annual ministerial meeting on the “Promotion of sustainable development and science, technology and innovation, culture potential” was held. Moreover, the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS)+10 High-Level Event was held in the ITU Headquarters, Geneva from 10-13 June 2014. The event reviewed the WSIS Outcomes (2003 and 2005) and endorsed two Outcome Documents, the WSIS+10 Statement on Implementation of WSIS Outcomes and the WSIS+10 Vision for WSIS Beyond 2015.
The main event in the history of the Republic of Azerbaijan in the telecommunication sphere was occurred in 2013. Thus, Azerbaijan’s first telecommunication satellite “Azerspace-1” was launched into orbit from Kourou, in South America, the Space Center of French Guiana on February 7, 2013 at local time 18:36 (on February 8, 2013 at 1:36 a.m. Baku time). Azerspace-1 which is equipped with 36 active transponders and weighing around 3,200 kg will be placed in the geostationary orbit at 46 degrees East longitude, and will provide high quality broadcasting services to Europe, Africa, Central Asia, the Caucasus and the Middle East. The satellite has an anticipated service life of 15 years. It will provide TV broadcasting and telecommunication services, as well as high-quality and stable communication platforms for government and corporate clients.
Advantages of “Azerspace-1”:
· Diversification of economy and development of new industrial areas;
· Elimination of dependence of data exchange from foreign countries and ensuring information security;
· Development of human resources and intellectual potential in new economic sectors, implementation of latest knowledge-intensive projects;
· Formation of an innovation-oriented economy;
· Enhancing regional and international prestige of Azerbaijan;
· Turning Azerbaijan into a regional center for ICT;
· Providing telecommunication needs of the economy and development of telecommunications infrastructure;
· Providing broadcasting and communications services, availability of reliable communication platforms meeting requirements of government and corporate clients;
· Providing hard-to-reach areas of the country with Internet connection, e-services, education, health and other services;
· Protection of the country from possible information blockade and strengthening the information positions of Azerbaijan;
· Direction of financial flows for satellite communications services to the economy of Azerbaijan and sale of satellite capacity abroad.
· The importance of satellite communications. (Satellite communication is of paramount importance, as the only alternative to the existing infrastructure, including for high-quality and relatively cheap communication the countries with mountainous terrain, including and Azerbaijan);
· Operation of the satellite will push the ensuring of the high-speed Internet throughout the country;
· As a result of the launch of satellite, there may be reduction in tariffs for telecommunication services due to the reduced costs;
· The satellite will promote to ensure more quality digital TV broadcasting, and organization of broadcasting in high definition (HD) format;
· Covering even out-settlements, the satellite will be an important infrastructure for the establishment of a modern communication and management system ensuring the relationship between the state and citizens, and better organization of the “electronic government”;
· The satellite communication will provide additional support for the organization of distance education and e-health services;
· The satellite will help in eliminating the consequences of natural disasters in the country in complex terrain and efficient management of emergency situations.
Some key indicators that reflect the level of development in communication and information technologies in the Republic of Azerbaijan are as follows:
· According to the “ICT development index” on the traditional journal “Measuring the Information Society 2012” of ITU that was published on 11 October, 2012 Azerbaijan has risen to 68th place among the 155 countries, and according to “ICT Price Basket value” Azerbaijan moved to 52nd place among of 161 countries.
· As reported by the internet index base of “ICT data and statistics” of ITU Azerbaijan leads in the region for the last years. According to the statics of 2012, 67% of population of the Republic of Azerbaijan connected to the internet, 30% are broadband subscribers.
· According to the “network readiness index” as reported in the “Global Information Technologies Report 2013” of World Economic Forum, the Republic of Azerbaijan has risen to the 56th place among the 144 countries by moving 5 places up.
· According to the “Global competitiveness index” of the “Global Competitiveness 2013-2014” report of the World Economic Forum Azerbaijan was ranked 39th place among the 148 countries by moving 7 places up.