24.Jul .2020 17:54

Construction of TransCaspian SubSea Cable is launched – what is digital silkway?

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The presentation of TransCaspian SubSea FO Cable project and official ground laying ceremony took place on Nov 25, 2019 in Kazakhstan, with participation of Prime Minister of Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan. Construction of a 400 km-long cable under the Caspian Sea will create unified digital infrastructure, which will connect the countries of Central Asia. The project is implemented by the largest telecommunications companies of two countries, AzerTelecom and KazTransCom.

Prime Minister of Kazakhstan Askar Mamin has declared at the presentation, that the new project will create a new digital corridor connecting Central Asia and Europe.

This is the digital corridor developed by NEQSOL, one of the largest holdings in Azerbaijan. One of the key parts for the implementation of the project is the fiber optic infrastructure on the bottom of Georgia and the Black Sea, which is owned by the company "Caucasus Online".

Teymur Taghiyev , Head of Strategy at NEQSOL Holding declares in an interview with Giorgi Isakadze, editor-in chief of Forbes Georgia, that international promotion of Digital Silkway have been severely affected by COVID -19 situation and their plans are changed.

“During our latest discussion, you have mentioned that Georgian community is almost unaware of Digital Silkway Program. I have mentioned that NEQSOL Holding made several presentations of the program at various international events including Davos Forum.

But we had to postpone all other events planned for 2020 due to unclear situation with travel arrangements and imposed restrictions. Nevertheless, we are planning an event in Tbilisi in teleconference format in September, with participation of our international partners from Kazakhstan, Europe, US and China.

The first planned event – the presentation of TransCaspian SubSea FO Cable project and official ground laying ceremony took place on Nov 19, 2019 in Aktau, Kazakhstan, with participation of Prime Minister of Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan. But we had to postpone all other events planned for 2020 due to unclear situation with travel arrangements and imposed restrictions due to COVID-19”, said Teymur Taghiyev.

According to Taghiyev, if the project is implemented, Georgia will become more attractive for international hyperscalers like Goggle and Amazon, because the country will act as liaison of the new corridor.

“Talking about the potential benefits of Digital Silkway for Georgia, and the impact of this project on the potential development of digital hub in Georgia – we need to understand the logic. I would reframe the question – is digital hub in Georgia possible without Digital Silkway? In order to establish a digital hub, to bring international hyperscalers like Goggle, Amazon and others to the region, certain pre-conditions should be met. We need favorable legal environment, legislation meeting international standards and not causing questions from international investors and hyper scalers.

We need a modern national and international connectivity infrastructure and minimum Tier 3 data center. And we need a certain scale – we should understand that Georgia as a market is small, and even Southern Caucasus regions is relatively small.

NEQSOL Holding and its projects perfectly fits into digital development plans of GEORGIA. There is no Tier 3 or Tier 4 data center in Georgia, and we are not aware of any plans of other investors to build Tier 3 or Tier 4 data center. And as I have already mentioned, NEQSOL Holding, as a part of its investment strategy, plans to build a modern data center and internet exchange point in Georgia.

Caucasus Online has become part of the larger digital corridor project, creating a precondition for the creation of new data centers in Georgia. According to international experts, the establishment of such a center will increase Georgia's digital capabilities, and there is a direct link between the growth of digital capabilities and economic growth. According to a study by the ITU and PWC, a 10% improvement in the digital index leads to a nearly 1% increase in the size of the country’s gross domestic product. As I remember, the matter concerns to the growth of 0.75 or 0.85 percentage point. At the same time, it will reduce the country's unemployment rate by 1%,” Teymur Taghiyev declares.