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Spotlight Article

Azerbaijan's Growing IT Sector

Azerbaijan America Alliance
June 29, 2015


On 25 June, Google expanded the ability to publish paid apps on Google Play, the Android operating system’s digital distribution market, to developers in Azerbaijan. This is a major boost for mobile app developers in Azerbaijan. Android dominates 78% of the global market for smartphone operating systems. This decision by Google is an important step on Azerbaijan’s path to becoming a tech hub in Central Asia.


Over the past few years, Azerbaijan developed the foundation for its own information technology sector. The country’s legacy in the Soviet petroleum industry assists this vision. The USSR trained many of its engineers in Azerbaijan, creating a concentration of technical talent in the Caspian nation. The potential for a future information technology hub in Azerbaijan is further aided by generous government investment. As part of the “Azerbaijan 2020” plan to help diversify the economy into sectors other than hydrocarbons, the Azerbaijani government has created programs to shift young Azerbaijani talent into information technology. These efforts include the creation of a High Tech Park on Pirallahi Island, an IT University, and a State Fund for IT Development. The Parliament has also authorized tax incentives for investors and resident companies including exemptions for taxes on infrastructural and technological imports.


Beyond the country’s engineering legacy and government support for information technology, some recent developments are driving innovation in Azerbaijan. Since 2008, GoldenPay, a mobile payments site and Azerbaijan’s most established company, has given Azerbaijani developers a model to follow. A number of small universities opened in recent years that tailor to nascent developers by offering courses and labs that teach the requisite programming languages. These forces place Azerbaijan at an advantage for attracting talented individuals from across Central Asia to Baku to work in the nascent technical sector.


Azerbaijan has the wealth and will to create a vibrant information technology ecosystem in Central Asia. As Azerbaijani entrepreneurs begin to tie all of these factors together into a unified tech sector, they may create a future hub that services the 400 million people who live in Central Asia. By obtaining the ability to publish paid apps, developers in Azerbaijan may have taken another step toward achieving this vision.

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