Annex A. Methodology

In the framework of the Central Asia Competitiveness IV Project co-financed by the European Union, the OECD ECP and the government of Uzbekistan established an OECD-led Public-Private Working Group, co-chaired by the Strategic Development Agency of Uzbekistan to review framework conditions for the digital upskilling of the private sector in Uzbekistan. The Working Group (WG) brought together representatives from the government of Uzbekistan, business associations, and other development partners. The OECD ECP, with contributions from international experts and peer reviewers from OECD member countries, carried out analysis, data collection and consultations with stakeholders in Uzbekistan to assess and develop recommendations for institutions and tools needed to support the digital upskilling of firms in Uzbekistan following the “Digital Uzbekistan 2030” strategy.

The note built on the extensive corpus of OECD work on digitalisation and SMEs, and developed a country-specific assessment framework for Uzbekistan, integrating three main dimensions: (i) the institutional framework in place to support Uzbek firms’ digital uptake, (ii) the awareness of business support services for digital skills, and (iii) the tools and incentives in place to support firms in their digital transformation. For each dimension, the OECD assessed the current state, identified challenges and priority areas for policy action, and discussed possible drivers for implementation.

The peer-review exercise relied on a continuous dialogue between the OECD, the government of Uzbekistan, the private sector, and international partners, including through working group meetings (Table A A.1) and several bilateral consultations in 2022. In particular, the OECD used a series of questionnaires, data requests and collection, analysis of existing surveys and interviews, to collect data and information.

The assessment framework is the central tool for the OECD peer-review, and to suggest recommendations based on measurable policy actions each of the three dimensions of the framework has been broken down into several measurable policy dimensions.

For each policy dimension, data was collected using desk research, questionnaires (see below) and interviews were held with key stakeholders from the public and private sector in Uzbekistan (Table A A.2) as well as with actors from the development community, the international business sector, and key institutions in OECD countries. Complementing the interviews, detailed questionnaires and data requests were sent to the Ministry of Economic Development and Poverty Reduction, the Agency for Makhallabay Work and Entrepreneurship Development, the Public Services Agency, the Business Ombudsman’s Office, the Ministry of Innovative Development, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Centre for Economic Research and Reforms, the Ministry for Development of Information Technologies and Communications, the Innovation, Technology and Strategy Centre and the Tashkent IT Park.

This report will be peer reviewed and endorsed during the OECD Eurasia Competitiveness Roundtable in March 2023, a policy network that brings together high-level representatives and technical experts from Eurasia countries, OECD members and partner organisations.

  1. 1. Does your country have a National Digital Strategy (NDS)?

    • Key policy objectives

    • Details on budget and time frame

    • Previous NDS (if any) and results?

  2. 2. Is the NDS:

    • A standalone strategy

    • Part of a broader national strategy (e.g., innovation strategy).

    • The digital economy objectives and planned policy actions are scattered across multiple policy documents (e.g., SME development strategy, ICT strategy, broader economic development strategy)

  3. 3. What are the main policy objectives of your NDS? (Please consider all relevant strategies when identifying digitalisation priorities and planned policy actions).

    Please rank priority from 1 (low) to 10 (high), and provide details on the ensuing policy actions.

    • Develop telecommunication infrastructure

    • Enhance internet governance

    • Promote digital uptake by individuals

    • Promote digital uptake by businesses

    • Enhance digital government

    • Foster innovation in digital technologies

    • Develop skills for digital transformation

    • Enhance data governance

    • Improve digital security

    • Enhance consumer protection online

    • Other not mentioned

  4. 4. Does the NDS include sector-specific digital plans? If yes, which ones?

  5. 5. Are there other national strategies promoting digital skills for businesses?

  6. 6. Does your country’s NDS set targets?

    • Please provide details on the targets / indicators / baseline / current state

  7. 7. Which institutions, actors, mechanisms are responsible for the following:

    • Lead the development of NDS

    • Contribute inputs to NDS

    • Co-ordinate implementation of NDS

    • Implement NDS

    • Monitor implementation of NDS

    • Evaluate NDS

  8. 8. How do you ensure co-ordination among different bodies for the development and implementation of the NDS?

  9. 9. Is there a budget associated with your NDS?

    • Yes / No

    • Please provide details on the budget (planned, allocated, or spent, as applicable) and time frame

  10. 10. Does your country have a strategy for enhancing digital government?

  11. 11. Do you monitor the uptake of digital government services and, if yes, what are the results?

  12. 12. What are the leading initiatives to promote digital government services for businesses?

  13. 13. Could you provide us an overview of the current institutional landscape (names and mandates of responsible ministries and agencies) regarding digital skills and services to SMEs? In particular:

    • Could you detail the mandate and work plan, in particular pertaining to digitalisation of businesses and SMEs, of the Agency for Mahallabay Work and Entrepreneurship development (former Agency for Development of Small Business and Entrepreneurship)?

    • What are the main differences with the mandate and work of the former Agency for Development of Small Business and Entrepreneurship?

    • What is the role and mandate of the Ministry for development of information technologies and communications? Does it also work on digital skills topics in relation to businesses and SMEs?

  14. 14. What is the role of the Co-ordination Commission for the implementation of the NDS?

    • Does the Commission work with other agencies and ministries?

    • Can you please detail the functioning and objectives of the regional roadmaps for digital transformation?

    • Is the Agency for Mahallabay Work and Entrepreneurship development (former Agency for Development of Small Business and Entrepreneurship) included in the implementation plan of the NDS?

  15. 15. What is the role and co-operation with the Chamber of Commerce and Industry and other business associations?

    • Has the private sector been consulted during the development of the Digital Uzbekistan 2030 Strategy (NDS)?

    • Does the implementation plan of the NDS include formal public-private dialogue (PPD) mechanisms?

    • Are there formal PPD mechanisms on digital topics for businesses, for example with the Chamber of commerce and Industry?

  16. 16. Has the SME Law established an SME definition?

  17. 17. Will SME digitalisation be part of the draft SME Strategy?

  18. 18. Does a dedicated digital skills facility (e.g., digital or innovation hubs, academia, etc.) exist?

  1. 19. Did your country adopt digital government solutions to improve services to businesses in response to the Covid-19 pandemic? If yes:

    • Could you provide us with an updated overview of all support measures taken during the COVID-19 pandemic to support business (and especially SMEs) move their activities online?

    • Could you detail us (if any) the measures that were planned/implemented to support companies going digital under the 2020-2021 recovery plan? What is the foreseen timeline? Which agencies/ Ministries will be in charge of planning and implementation?

  1. 20. What are the main government initiatives to promote digital skills:

    • In the general population through the education system (e.g., from early childhood onwards for basic digital skills, until higher education/university for ICT/STEM programmes)

    • In the general population through lifelong learning initiatives (e.g., non-formal learning, training courses to upgrade digital skills)

    • Among SME managers / entrepreneurs (e.g., through awareness raising campaigns, networking/mentoring, but especially trainings to develop digital managerial acumen, organisational changes, digital mind-set etc.)

    • Among employees of SMEs (e.g., practical trainings on the use of digital technologies in the firm – government-subsidised trainings)

  2. 21. Are these initiatives reflected in national policy documents?

  3. 22. What are the main non-governmental initiatives/tools/institutions to promote digital skills? (e.g., availability of competence centres, innovation hubs showcasing the use of digital technologies and offering digital skills trainings, clusters etc.)

  4. 23. Can you share with us, if any, the results of surveys of business use and assessment of public service centres (PSC)?

  5. 24. Do PSC provide digital business development services? If yes, which ones, and under which form?

  6. 25. Do PSC work with public and private business advisory service providers in the regions where they are established (e.g., to facilitate a network of business support services)?

  1. 26. Does your country have in place policies to promote the use of digital technologies by businesses (e.g., ICT goods, software, cloud computing, Artificial Intelligence, big data, e-commerce, etc.)?

    • Yes/No

    • Please provide details on the policies:

      • Description

      • Objectives

      • Implementing/ responsible body

      • Is this policy linked to other policies, strategies or agenda?

    • Which of the policy instruments below apply to the policy described above?

      • Direct financial support (e.g., vouchers for the purchase of ICT goods or services, grants for ICT-related R&D, etc.)

      • Indirect financial support (e.g., tax incentives on ICT investment, loans at a preferential rate, etc.)

      • Nonfinancial support (e.g., training on digital technologies, business information, counselling, trade shows, etc.)

      • Regulations and statutory guidance (e.g., e-invoice standards, e-payment regulations, data authority, etc.)

  1. 27. What are the main government initiatives / programmes promoting SME digitalisation in your country?

    • Name of the initiative

    • Launch year

    • Objectives

    • Main activities

    • Impact

  2. 28. Does the Agency for Mahallabay Work and Entrepreneurship development, or another agency:

    • Offer digital skills training programmes to entrepreneurs and SME employees? Do quality labels and/or certification mechanisms for such trainings exist?

    • Offer digital maturity assessment tools to businesses?

    • Offer advisory services on digital skills to businesses? (If yes, please see “On advisory and training services for SMEs” section below)

    • Provide financial support (grants, vouchers, subsidised loan programmes, etc.) for digitalisation (e.g., trainings, digital equipment, etc.)?

    • Conduct regular consultations and surveys on the digital skills needs of the private sector?

    • Monitor the ecosystem for the digital transformation of businesses?

  3. 29. What is the role and co-operation with the Chamber of Commerce and Industry and other business associations? Does it identify businesses’ digital skills needs?

  4. 30. Does an easily accessible public database gathering the work of all relevant public institutions engaged in business digitalisation? If not, what are the key online resources for businesses considering going digital in Uzbekistan?

  5. 31. Are there other initiatives led by non-government actors to promote digitalisation of SMEs? (incubators, accelerators, clusters, centres of competence, innovation centres). Please provide detail on the following:

    • Name of the initiative

    • Launch year

    • Objectives

    • Main activities

    • Impact

  1. 32. Is the staff of the agency providing directly advisory and training services on digital skills to businesses, or are they outsourced to private advisors?

    • How is the advisory staff in dedicated agencies hired and trained?

  2. 33. Has a network/ observatory of advisory services on digital skills for businesses been set-up to provide advice and tailored training services at the request of individual companies in specific sectors?

    • If yes, who is in charge of the network?

    • Is it free of charge?

  3. 34. How many SMEs/ firms have benefitted from advisory and training services on digital skills over the past years?

  4. 35. Does a programme of advertising and outreach regarding the advisory and training services on digital skills offered by the relevant agencies exist? (e.g., a "single window" (online/offline) for SMEs).

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