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On February 6th the Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety held “Awareness raising on e-government” conference with financial support from Canada Fund for Local Initiatives, as part of the Expression Online Initiative campaign. The conference was moderated by the programme manager of the International Media Support, Gulnara Akhundova.
IRFS Chairman Emin Huseynov applauded government agencies for their successful efforts to build electronic government, particularly government investments to set up a special ICT University to solve the problem of lack of enough experts in this field. Huseynov noted that private and foreign investments should also be drawn in for this purpose. Pointing out problems such as weak infrastructure for internet distribution and high internet prices, Huseynov expressed hope for more affordable and accessible internet after the expected release of first telecommunication satellite in Azerbaijan. According to Ilgar Mahmudov, representative of the State Commission on Student Admission (SCSA), electronic service for processing student admission applications was first introduced in 2006. Although in the first year only 2,000 people used this service, in the following six years this service covered all the education institutions of the country. Currently the SCSA offers 12 different services. Mahmudov also said that the SCSA plans to place video lectures on its website for students, conduct online exams, issue electronic certificates, and organize virtual appeal hearing. Employee of ASAN Service Center, Anar Huseynov, said that the Center started to work about a month ago, and offers 23 types of services. The Center works in close cooperation with government agencies based on exchange of information. 9,000 people have used the services of the Center, since the day it opened. So far, the Center serves only the residents of Nasimi and Narimanov districts of Baku. In the end of the year people from all parts of the capital, and in the future people of Sumgait, will be able use this service. Another purpose in setting up the Center is to combat corruption and bribery. IREX media expert Alasgar Mammadli also approved of the work done in this area, but said this is not enough. “Forty state agencies offer 400 types of electronic services, but most of them are not so useful. Also, only residents of Baku can use these services. People in the regions do not have access to the internet, but this problem has not been solved yet. Media organizations should pay more attention to problems related to e-government” said Mammadli.