Azerbaijan villages go online

A community member connects to the virtual world through an internet kiosk
A community member connects to the virtual world through an internet kiosk
Vugar Mammadov/IREX

For Immediate Release

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Thirty kiosks, providing free Internet access to communities in remote villages in 29 districts across Azerbaijan, are installed by IREX under the USAID-funded Azerbaijan New Media Project.

Although online access in Azerbaijan is growing, Internet services, particularly in the regions, remain expensive. Most citizens of Azerbaijan can only access Internet in cafés, Internet clubs or at work. Over 46 percent of people surveyed by IREX in selected villages from January through May indicate that they use the Internet via mobile phone but find the service to be rather expensive and very slow. 54 percent of respondents have never used Internet but are keen for free access in their communities. 82 percent indicate that they are interested in attending basic Internet courses; 19 percent want to learn more about how to use e-mail; 27 percent are curious about social media networks; 50 percent are keen on computer programs and 2 percent asked to learn to file their tax statements online.

To help bridge the gap, USAID and IREX partnered with the Ministry of Communications and Information Technologies(MCIT) to install Internet kiosks in 30 selected local post-offices, to provide free access for the public. With support from USAID, IREX purchased the necessary equipment and procured the Internet connections. The Ministry hosts the kiosks in post-offices free of charge. One year after launching the kiosks, they will be handed over to the MCIT.

Each community selected for the Village Online initiative has a population of between 3,000 and 10,000. Almost all residents (96 percent of respondents) say they regularly visit their local post office for payments or posting letters.

IREX has trained the post office managers to maximize kiosk potential. Each post office also received printed materials with step-by-step tutorials about computers and the Internet.

Speaking at the formal launch of Village Online in Yerguc community, Khachmaz, on 4 October 2012, Alesger Mammadli, IREX Deputy Chief of Party, said “This initiative is helping to transform public spaces into vital resources that can help improve people’s lives.”

In the last two years, Azerbaijan New Media Project has installed Wi-Fi in five universities in Baku. It has also established, and handed over to local partners, 19 fully equipped Community Information Centers. In November 2012, IREX will launch the USAID-funded Online Education initiative.

Last updated: May 01, 2014

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