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Countries in Central and South Asia to Improve Internet Connectivity and Grow Their Digital Economies

Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic, May 31, 2017 —The World Bank Group is working with the governments of Afghanistan and the Kyrgyz Republic to improve broadband Internet connectivity by encouraging private investment in infrastructure and helping to modernize state regulations.
As part of the initiative, IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, hosted a regional workshop, “Landlocked to Land-linked: Connecting Central Asia and Afghanistan to the Global Digital Economy,” bringing  together government officials and the private sector to explore ways to increase access to affordable Internet services and use the infrastructure to improve economic opportunity and public service delivery.
Moazzam Mekan, IFC Regional Manager for Central Asia , said expanded Internet access supports IFC’s priorities of encouraging entrepreneurship and improving the quality of public services by promoting e-government. “We are tackling constraints to private sector growth by improving access to communications technology, addressing access gaps in telecommunications services, and supporting Internet-based business innovations.”
Access to high speed Internet is still limited and costly for many individuals and businesses in landlocked countries in Central and South Asia, mainly because the majority of global Internet traffic bypasses the region. According to the World Bank’s 2016 World Development Report (WDR): Digital Dividends , for example, 60 percent of people in Central Asia do not have Internet access. Users in the Kyrgyz Republic and Tajikistan pay some of the highest prices in the world for low-quality Internet services.  
Promoting infrastructure deployment through regional coordination, as well as stimulating market competition via effective regulation, will help these countries benefit from the opportunities offered by the Internet.
“Developing cost-effective international networks within the region will reduce consumer prices and improve broadband reliability, stimulating jobs, innovation and economic growth, said World Bank Country Manager for the Kyrgyz Republic, Jean-Michel Happi.
About the World Bank Group
The World Bank Group is one of the world’s largest sources of funding and development expertise for developing countries. It comprises five closely associated institutions: the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) and the International Development Association (IDA), which together form the World Bank; the International Finance Corporation (IFC); the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA); and the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID). Each institution plays a distinct role in pursuing the World Bank Group’s mission to fight poverty and improve living standards for people in the developing world. For more information, please visit , , and .