International Digital Connectivity Summit in Tbilisi

International Digital Connectivity Summit dedicated to the development of interregional digital corridors was held in Tbilisi. Representatives of the countries of Europe, Central Asia, the Caucasus region and China participated in the summit. The event was organized by the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development, the Communications Commission and the World Bank.

Vice Prime Minister, Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development Levan Davitashvili welcomed the summit participants. Davitashvili highlighted that based on the high international ratings of Georgia’s geopolitical location and business performance, as well as the recent situation in the world and the region, Georgian Government’s goal is to make the most of the potential that the country has in the direction of the digital transit corridor (hub) connecting Asian and European countries.

“Georgia strives to establish itself as a digital hub in the region, develop human capital, increase economic competitiveness and involve more people and companies in the global digital economy. The formation of telecommunication, transport and energy corridors connecting Europe-Asia is of great strategic importance not only for Georgia, but also for all the countries of the South Caucasus region, the Black Sea and Caspian Sea basins. The telecommunication digital corridor should be imagined as an independent, self-contained form, which, together with transport and energy projects, creates an economic space as a whole,” – the Vice Prime Minister said.

Davitashvili noted that the development of the digital transit corridor and hub in Georgia implies, on the one hand, an international broadband telecommunication Internet connection in and through Georgia, and on the other hand, the formation of regional data exchange centres by large content providers in the country. Vice Prime Minister also presented the result of the analysis by international experts, which confirm the expectation that the Europe-Asia global Internet connection market will grow by about 30% in the next 5 years, according to the annual growth rate. According to Davitashvili, through the Black Sea, Georgia is in a good position to actively participate in the market of international Internet connections, and the connection with Europe through underwater infrastructure on the Black Sea is a prerequisite for the development of the Europe-Asia digital transit corridor.

Another priority direction that the Vice Prime Minister focused on is the development of the international digital corridor and data exchange centres in Georgia. According to his assessment, due to increased competition in the international connection market, there is a need for the further development of all sectors of the economy in the region, as long as it can provide increased volume of Internet traffic between Europe and Asia through optical networks, develop the quality of digital services, as well as accessibility.

According to the Vice Prime Minister, this will accelerate the digital transformation of the region in the future, as it can lead to the further digitization of enterprises, the development of skills specific to the information and telecommunication (ICT) sector, promote the emergence/development of innovative culture, technological startups, development of private and public services and other. Transforming Georgia into a digital hub will help attract investments and industrial growth both locally and internationally.

“It is important that the dialogues and bilateral meetings within the framework of today’s summit end with certain results, which in the future will promote cooperation between the countries of the region in the direction of the development of stronger international digital corridors and data exchange centres,” – Levan Davitashvili said at the end.

Vakhtang Abashidze, a member of the Communications Commission, and Charles Cormier, the World Bank’s Infrastructure Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia, also gave a welcome speech at the summit.

Round table discussions and B2B meetings were held during the summit. The deepening of intra-regional and inter-regional cooperation in development of digital connections, focusing on the South Caucasus region as the main hub for the development of inter-regional digital connection networks between Europe and Asia and the opportunities and challenges in this regard were discussed during the event.

The summit was concluded with the adoption of the Tbilisi Declaration.

Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia. © 2021