Prime Minister of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) Vladimir Solodov

Distinguished participants,

It is a great pleasure and privilege for me to welcome you to the Asia Pacific Regional Internet Governance Forum. In my presentation, I will briefly talk about the development of the internet in Yakutia. This region is part of the Far Eastern Federal District. It is one of Russia’s leading regions in terms of digitalization and internet development.

Information security rests on three main pillars: technological solutions, regulations and user awareness. Technological solutions are developed at the international level, regulations are introduced at the federal level, leaving the third pillar to the region, i.e., raising user awareness and competence.

The current state of affairs

  • Yakutia covers a territory of 3 million square kilometers, but has a population of just 966,000 people. It has a harsh continental climate, and 13 of 35 of its districts lie within the Arctic zone, accounting for more than half of Yakutia’s territory.
  • Considering the sparse population and the fact that many communities are located in remote areas, internet access becomes a life necessity, for example for developing telemedicine healthcare services.
  • Internet access is available in 512 communities in Yakutia where 99.3 percent of the population lives, and the same percentage is covered by mobile cellular telephony.
  • Fiber-optic lines have been installed in 169 communities where 80.15 percent of the region’s population lives.
  • The government has created conditions for making the ISP market competitive. Regional communications operators are established in every municipal entity to provide internet access services. They compete against one another, which has a positive impact on internet access prices.
  • Broadband availability has paved the way for the emergence of private IT companies in Yakutia that are now known around the world, that generate millions in revenue and have offices in the United States, Singapore and other countries.
  • Mytona employs more than 500 people, while Sinet has a staff of over 400 people.

Internet use trends in Yakutia

  • According to the latest opinion surveys, the majority of Yakutia residents, 88 percent, are internet users.
  • Mobile internet remains the most popular means for accessing the internet (75 percent).
  • Yakutia’s information space is currently shaped by electronic communications, specifically television and online resources.
  • Television remains the main source for information in Yakutia (65 percent), followed by WhatsApp and other messenger apps (55 percent), social media and forums rank third (42 percent), and news websites are fourth (42 percent).
  • WhatsApp is used by 80 percent of respondents in Yakutia and 90 percent of internet users.
  • The fact that this messaging app is so popular can be explained by the high mobile penetration rate in the region. There may also be a cultural factor: since the region is so sparsely populated and the communities are separated by huge distances, local residents constantly feel a lack of information, while being very sociable by nature.

Digital transformation of government bodies

  • Yakutia is about to establish a project committee for digital transformation that will be tasked with devising mechanisms for introducing digital technology in government bodies.
  • Every regional ministry will be responsible for promoting digital transformation in its respective sector. The pace and depth of the process will be determined on a case-by-case basis depending on the preparations of each sector to go digital.
  • Priorities in this sphere include data harmonization and ensuring effective processing.

Effective tools for developing the IT industry

  • Today, the main tools for supporting the IT industry in the region are the Yakutia Technology Park, IT Park, Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) Development Corporation and Yakutia Venture Company.
  • In 2018, we started to create IT centers to promote and develop the digital economy in the region’s towns and cities, with 17 IT centers expected to open by 2024.
  • A data processing center is expected to be launched in May 2020 in Yakutia. It will serve companies from Yakutia, as well as from the Magadan Region and the Chukotka Autonomous Area.
  • LoRaWAN tests in Yakutsk showed a range of 1 to 3 km within the city and more than 10 km in rural areas. In the future, full coverage will be available in Yakutsk and its suburbs, as well as in district centers.

Improving computer literacy

  • Yakutia offers free computer literacy courses for retirees.
  • There are also private efforts such as Alexei Illarionov’s IT school. It opened in 2016 and offers two-year coding and computer graphics courses for middle and high-school students.

Ethnic awareness in content

  • The creation of content with consideration for the ethnic identity of the region is viewed as a key factor in improving engagement.
  • For example, the cinema boom started in Yakutia 10 years ago with comedies targeting primarily the local audiences. Today, Yakutian-language films are winning awards at major international film festivals.

Support cyber sport

  • Supporting cyber sport has high potential.
  • The Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) Cyber Sport Federation was established in 2001, becoming one of the first associations of this kind in Russia. Today, some 10,000 local residents practice cyber sport.
  • This is a promising area, especially since cyber sport is so popular in the Asia-Pacific Region.

Digital Detox

  • Even though almost the entire population of Yakutia has internet access (512 communities, 99.3 percent of the region’s population), there are still many places in the region with no signal or connection.
  • Yakutia could occupy a promising niche in the tourism market by promoting digital detox, in addition to extreme tourism.

"Internet Management: Experience from the Pole of Cold" (Vladimir Solodov's Presentation)

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