The annual income of the information and communication technologies sector of Azerbaijan will reach $8-8.5 billion in 2020, ICT Minister Ali Abbasov said on December 23.
Addressing a conference titled "Azerbaijan 2013-2018. For the new goals", which was organized by the ruling New Azerbaijan party, he added that the amount will approximately make for 10 percent of the country's GDP.
"The public investment volume in the country's ICT sector is expected to hit $3-3.5 billion by 2020. The same amount of investment is expected to be obtained from the private sector," he said.
Abbasov also spoke about the broadband Internet development project in Azerbaijan, "Fiber-to-home" programme, which will start in early 2014 and initially cover 2014-2016.
"Successful implementation of the project will increase the penetration rate of broadband Internet in the country by 85 percent," he said.
At the initial stage, the State Oil Fund of Azerbaijan plans to allocate 103 million manat ($131 million) for its implementation.
The cost of the project is estimated at more than 450 million manat ($573 million). The project is considered highly profitable. Some 30-35 percent of its total cost will be funded through reinvestment starting from the second year of implementation.
The ministry plans to cover all areas in Azerbaijan with high-speed Internet by 2017.
The ultimate aim of the project is to provide the entire country including remote rural areas with high-speed Internet in a range of 10-100 Mbit / s and to bring the number of broadband Internet users up to 85 percent. This will allow Azerbaijan to reach the level of the world's developed countries by 2017.
Currently, some 70 percent of the population uses the Internet in Azerbaijan. The level of broadband Internet penetration among the population is 50 percent.
Internet price to fall in near future
The ministry also plans to reduce the tariffs for Internet services, Ali Abbasov said to the local media on December 23.
"The tariffs for the Internet are not regulated by the state. However, its role in this issue is undeniable," he said.
"In general, the cost of the Internet in the country is being declined. Our plan on reducing this cost will soon be available. This will allow Internet service providers to make their services even more affordable for the end user," Abbasov said.
Earlier, the Azerbaijan Tariff Council adopted a decision to reduce some telecommunication services' tariffs from January 1, 2014. This decision is expected to have an impact on the reduction of tariffs for Internet services.
Azerbaijan currently leads the way among the Commonwealth of Independent States in terms of internet penetration among individual users, and in terms of broadband internet penetration among individual users.
However, the Internet prices in Azerbaijan is moderate, some $12.7 per month, according to the International Telecommunication Union.
While the cheapest Internet cost per month in the CIS is in Ukraine $7.1, Russia takes the second place in this rating with $10.2, Uzbekistan - $11.5, Belarus and Georgia - to $11.9, Armenia - $12.1, Kyrgyzstan - $12.5, Moldova - $12.8, Kazakhstan - $13.2 and the expensive one in Turkmenistan - $35.