ICT sector in Kazakhstan is on the stage of infrastructure development and main services such as landlines, mobile communications and internet. For example, in 2008, only 23% of the population has landline communications in the city and 8% in the countryside. Similarly, internet penetration is only 8% and 1.6% for broadband internet. The access is limited to 256 kbps and it does not exceed 100 kbps in reality. Nonetheless, Kazakhstan has the most developed mobile infrastructure in the Central Asia region - in 2008, the mobile connection was available for 94% of Kazakhstan population.
Another problem of ICT services in Kazakhstan is the high prices level. This is mainly due to the monopoly of the state carrier, Kazakhtelekom. Its large territory (2.7 million km2 or France, Spain, Sweden, Germany, Finland, Italy and Great Britain taken together) combined with small population (~16 million) causes also difficulties in developing any kind of infrastructure.
The main government player to set the ICT policy is "Agency for Informatization & Communication (AIC)" established in 2003. The AIC aims to create the most optimal conditions for infrastructure development and the competitive telecommunication service market. Plus, the National Info-Communication Holding "Zerde", launched in 2008, has 5 daughter state companies responsible for ICT development in Kazakhstan. For 2009-2011 years, the main goals of Kazakhstan in ICT are e-government services, quality telecommunication services and the use of ICT in the "day-to-day life".
However, R&D ICT in Kazakhstan is not supported by any state companies and the government does not have any ICT R&D development programme or policies. Even more, ICT sector was excluded from the priorities of the "Strategy of Industrial and Innovation Development of Kazakhstan for 2003-2015". The private companies have the same situation. Most of the ICT related companies and organizations simply sell imported products and some of them provide additional services to the selling products such as system integration and adaptation.
On the other hand, there is an opportunity to develop ICT R&D indirectly by building other segments. There is an economic diversification plan in Kazakhstan aiming to develop different sectors, such as agriculture, constructions, infrastructure, medicine, chemistry and energy. Since Kazakhstan requires "classical" technologies, R&D ICT is not the highest priorities in the country. But ICT can play a crucial role in all sectors mentioned above. That is why the FP7 is a way to boost Kazakhstan R&D activities and cooperation of ICT specialists with the rest of the world.