Kyrgyzstan, being a mountainous country located far from the main routes for laying underwater fiber-optic cables, faces a number of problems in terms of providing access, including cost, quality and speed of Internet connection. All this is accompanied by a low level of digital skills of ordinary citizens and leadership in the digital sphere, the lack of modern digital infrastructure. Nevertheless, Kyrgyzstan is on the eighth line in the global ranking on the cheapness of mobile Internet. This makes it possible for Kyrgyzstanis, even in the most remote rural areas, to connect to the Internet and be in touch with the whole world.
The ability to use the Internet is one of the key needs of every resident of Kyrgyzstan. But there is a limited understanding of the opportunities provided by modern technologies, which leads to the non-use of social networks, Internet resources, mobile applications and other digital tools.
Buuzara is a participant of the Sanarip Insan project, aimed at developing digital skills and improving the economic well–being of women and youth living in the regions of Kyrgyzstan.
Batken region in Kyrgyzstan, where Buuzara lives, is the least developed region in terms of economic indicators, communications. The existing digital divide exacerbates social inequality and constrains economic growth in the region. But thanks to the trainings within the framework of the Sanarip Insan project, participants have more opportunities to improve their digital literacy, competencies on industry digital platforms.
Buuzara is a former teacher with 30 years of work experience, now she is on a well-deserved vacation, and is taking her first steps in the tourism business. The village of Bujum in the Batken district of the eponymous region, where she lives, is located near the border with Tajikistan. She joined Sanarip Insan because she understands the importance of digital skills in her work.
“During the two-day training, we learned about digital skills, social networks, and got acquainted with guest houses abroad. That’s when the idea came to me: empty houses can be turned into guest houses. I have registered in booking.com in March 2023, without spending money, creating living conditions for tourists, as in an ordinary Kyrgyz house. We started working in April. Through booking.com the information reaches not only the population of Kyrgyzstan, but also foreign businessmen and travelers. They set the date of arrival, book seats. It has become much more convenient and easier for us to find new customers. Today we have good connections, there are enough customers,” Buuzara says.
Buuzara is glad that thanks to the project, she can make the most of the possibilities of the Internet to work with clients via phone. She admits that all residents of the regions should be trained in digital skills, because the Internet is the most convenient way to facilitate their work and increase incomes in rural areas. Since the opening of the guest house, registration on booking.com tourists from other regions began to come. Soon she is expecting guests from Latin America. Today, she plans to turn a double guest house into a two-storey eight-bed house with the proceeds.
“During the trainings, I noticed that ordinary women in our country have many opportunities. We can make a profit by providing our products and services. Digital commerce saves time and improves the quality of service. If we learn how to use the Internet correctly, young people will grow and develop here. Sanarip Insan has opened the opportunity to become visible to tourists from all over the world,” Buuzara rejoices.
Within the framework of the project, 500 people were trained in all 7 regions of the country. Thanks to trainings on digital tourism, participants learned how to work on such platforms as Booking, Google Business, Google Maps, Airbnb, Shelter, Fidelio PMS, Edelweiss PMS. As part of the e-commerce trainings, participants learned how to use social networks Instagram, Facebook, messengers Whatsapp Business, Telegram to promote goods and services. Today they are successfully developing their businesses.
There are a lot of residents of rural areas of Kyrgyzstan who are as motivated as Buuzara, who dream of creating new things, earning money through the Internet and being able to tell the whole world about themselves. Each of them dreams of economic well-being within the country, so as not to go abroad to work anymore.
The Internet and digital skills give this opportunity to everyone.
The project is implemented with the financial support of the European Union and is implemented by the European Neighborhood Council and ISOC Kyrgyz Chapter