In his latest Address to the Nation in January 2014, the President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbaev, defined the nation’s grand strategy of joining the top 30 developed countries of the world by 2050. Called “Kazakhstan – 2050″ this strategy implies maintaining the independence, prosperity and development of Kazakhstan and making it one of the world’s most comfortable places to live.
President Nazarbaev outlined his government’s plans to implement the strategy via five-year plans – the remaining time until 2050 will be divided accordingly. The goal of joining the top 30 developed countries of the world will be accomplished in two stages. The first stage will occur before 2030, during which the nation will priorities “a modernization breakthrough” leading to a strong manufacturing industry. The second stage will cover the period between 2030 and 2050 where the nation will establish a platform for a knowledge-based economy.
Addressing the nation, President Nazarbaev mentioned seven core areas that need to be prioritized. The significance of developing innovative approaches in implementing all of the below was mentioned:
– adjusting and strengthening the trend of innovative industrialization
– implementing strategies to modernize agriculture
– increasing the capacity of science in Kazakhstan
– developing infrastructure triads
– developing small and medium businesses
– unleashing the potential of Kazakhstan’s citizens
– improving public institutions
In line with Kazakhstan’s broader agenda to diversify its economy and avoid Kazakhstan falling into the so-called “resource curse,” the President stressed the importance of creating new industries in the country as the first major task to pursue. While mentioning the need to keep Kazakhstan’s traditional hydrocarbon exports on the rise, the President also urged the development of rare minerals production to fuel the creation of knowledge-based economic industries. The President emphasized the need to establish “the industries of mobile and multimedia technology, nanotechnology and space technology, robotics, genetic engineering, and future energy exploration” within a decade.
Preserving and developing agriculture, Kazakhstan’s traditional industry, is the second vital priority area for the country. According to the President, Kazakhstan’s aim is to become “the major regional exporter of meat, dairy and farming products.” For this purpose, the President stressed the importance of effective land use and the creation of better conditions for farmers. Conditions such as better pricing mechanisms and elimination of intermediaries blocking farmers from direct access to funds were listed. The President also called upon wise use of water as part of a transition to a ‘green’ economy by 2030.″
Thirdly, the strategy also prioritizes scientific research. The President called upon improving the “legislation on venture financing, intellectual property protection, research and innovation support, as well as commercialization of research.” The need to increase activity in technology parks, mainly in large urban agglomerations was specified. The President quoted intellectual innovation clusters in Astana and Almaty as examples.
Speaking of a triad “agglomerations, transportation and energy,” the President referenced the need to further develop contemporary urban centers in Astana, Almaty, Shymkent and Aktobe and establish effective transportation links across the country. Highways, rail networks and transport corridors are expected to connect the country’s vast territory and provide better access to world sea ports.
Simultaneously, the development of infrastructure is seen to go hand in hand with prudent energy use. President Nazarbaev mentioned the importance of researching and implementing clean energy use, and promoting energy savings in industry and households. Alternative sources of energy are also to be considered in the future years, with the possible use of affordable nuclear power.
Fifth, the President’s speech elaborated on the imperative of developing small and medium businesses and increasing their numbers. He quoted Kazakhstan’s more than 800,000 small-to-medium-size enterprises employing 2.4 million of people, and stressed the need to reinforce this trend further. Calling upon small and medium business to develop around new innovative companies, the President charged the government to combine the next five-year industrialization plan with the “Business road map 2020” – a national program aimed at the stimulation of business in the country.
Effective social policy is one of the major criteria distinguishing developed countries from others, and Kazakhstan aims to improve its standards in this field. The following priority task listed the must-haves such as a high quality education system (both in primary and secondary schools and universities), primary care services via national health insurance system, cultural development, higher salaries for civil servants, and the integration of disabled people in business.
Last but not least, the President emphasized the need to improve public institutions and improve interaction between the state, businesses and society. He called upon the increasing effectiveness of public bodies and swift procedures in dealing with cases. Demanding a high professionalism from law enforcement bodies, the President underlined that the equality before law “should become the real basis of the law and order.” He called upon the judicial system to be “transparent and accessible in practice.” The Head of State also stressed the importance of fighting the evil of corruption, and called upon implementing a new anti-corruption strategy.
The achievement of the goals mentioned above will require efforts from all Kazakhstan’s population, the government’s commitment as well as cooperation with foreign partners. It will not be an easy task, as the challenges of economic, social and political development are real and will not be resolved overnight. Concluding his speech, President Nazarbaev called upon the public to actively participate in the achievement of the goals but he addressed young people in particular: “This strategy is for you. You, who will participate in its implementation, and you will reap the benefits of its success.”
While the implementation of the necessary government plans will be the responsibility of government officials, it is in fact the younger generations whose commitment to the idea could define the ability of Kazakhstan to join the top 30 club.
Today, young Kazakhs have better opportunities than their parents, who grew up under the Soviet rule. The country’s capitalism-oriented society provides them with opportunities to either start own businesses or work for others. It is true that younger generations are challenged in many new ways too. Yet, Kazakhstan’s many positive accomplishments of the last few decades of independence play in their favor. At present the country has one of the most open economies in the post-Soviet space. It has favorable investment conditions, its economic and industrial growth are on the rise, and there’s a vast potential for building a modern, thriving society. It is, therefore, hoped that the “Kazakhstan – 2050” strategy could indeed become an era-defining speech for the youth and the whole nation.