Azerbaijan’s ICT Minister Ali Abbasov has revealed that work is underway to set up an independent telecommunications regulatory body in the country. As quoted by AzerNews, Abbasov stated that: ‘Right now the department of regulation is working under [the] ICT Ministry but we want to make it an independent body with its own authorities.’ TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database says that Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Communications and Information Technologies (MCIT) is not only responsible for all telecoms regulation – including wireless spectrum duties handled by a subordinate agency, the State Commission for Radio Frequencies (SCFR) – but also remains responsible for the state’s shareholdings in the telecoms operating sector, representing a significant conflict of interests. GlobalComms adds that an extension to the ‘e-Azerbaijan 2010-2012’ programme was signed by President Aliyev in August 2010, with the revision calling for the establishment of a national independent telecoms regulator ‘within two years’, but there had been scant public evidence of progress towards this delayed goal until the ICT minister’s disclosure last week.
2013 was named Azerbaijan’s ‘Year of ICT’ by the state, marked by events including the launch of its first telecommunications satellite, Azerspace-1, reportedly making it the third CIS country to own such a satellite. Azerbaijan’s revenues in the ICT sector increased by 10.7% in 2013 to AZN1.528 billion (USD1.947 billion), according to figures from the State Statistical Committee (Azstat) cited on the MCIT’s website, which also showed that the consumer segment accounted for 72.4% (USD1.41 billion) of the total revenue, while revenues from mobile services (business and consumer) represented 59.1% (USD1.15 billion). The reported mobile turnover figure for 2013 was up by 17.4% compared with 2012.