The Government of Uzbekistan has recognised the importance of digitalisation in modernising the economy and promoting the well-being of citizens. The Digital Uzbekistan 2030 strategy, adopted in October 2020, has set the course for the development of five priority areas in the country: digital infrastructure, digital economy, e-government, the national IT sector and IT education. The strategy has already contributed significantly to the development of e-government services and improved access to digital infrastructure across the country. However, limited public-sector understanding of the digital skills needs of the private sector and SMES’ low digital uptake reduce the effectiveness of the government’s digital transformation agenda.

For SMEs in particular, digitalisation has the potential to help overcome size-related barriers, spur growth and foster innovation. Yet their digital transition can be particularly challenging due to lack of resources and lack of familiarity with the potential benefits of digitalisation. Addressing gaps within the institutional framework and government support in place to assist firms in their digital journey could therefore increase Uzbekistan’s economic potential. This is especially relevant now, as the country aims to foster the growth of a national IT sector and become an attractive location for business-process outsourcing. Improving digital framework conditions in the country could also encourage the relocation of foreign IT companies and professionals, which in turn could foster innovation and competitiveness.

An OECD-led public-private Working Group, co-chaired by the Strategic Reforms Agency (former Strategic Development Agency) of Uzbekistan, was created at the beginning of 2022 to help support the analytical work of the OECD and design relevant policy recommendations for the digital upskilling of firms in Uzbekistan. It has brought together representatives of government, public and non-governmental institutions, business associations, and the private sector.

This peer review note assesses the institutional framework in place, evaluates private-sector awareness of support available to firms that wish to digitalise (including tools and incentives in place to foster their digital uptake), and develops recommendations for further progress. The note was developed in consultation with the government, members of the Working Group, private companies, and development partners, and it has benefitted from the contributions of experts from Estonia, Korea, and the OECD Secretariat. The note will be discussed in the OECD Eurasia Competitiveness Roundtable, following which it will be revised for publication.

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