The opportunities for SMEs to use digitalization in Azerbaijan are limited, said Patrick Prusinski, an expert with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
He spoke at an event to mark the completion of EU-funded projects “Support to the Government of Azerbaijan in creating a more favorable environment for small and medium enterprises and increase their competitiveness” and “Support to the Development of Rural Entrepreneurship”, implemented by the Small and Medium Business Development Agency (SMBDA) under the Ministry of Economy.
Prusinski stressed that a number of important things had been done in Azerbaijan in the field of SMEs, but difficulties remain:
“Digitalization must be accelerated among strategic priorities. Coordination between different partners is required in this direction. We see progress in Azerbaijan in terms of digital infrastructure. However, there is a big difference between Baku and the regions. Attention should be paid to the development of SMEs. There is a need for progress in many areas related to digitalization. Currently, the lack of a national cybersecurity strategy is one of the challenges, and entrepreneurs still use electronic signatures to a limited extent.”
He noted that Azerbaijan has great experience in the field of e-services:
“In this regard, Azerbaijan is an example of how the government communicates with its citizens to a number of countries. I would also like to draw attention to the activities of SMBDA. It has expanded its financial and non-financial services. Some services are offered in more than 21 SME development centers. SMBDA supports digitalization. However, challenges remain, one of which is the limited availability of digital-specific support services. What does it mean? On the one hand, we see that training is being conducted for SMEs, and when we look at a specific segment of digital support, we see a great need for progress.”