The public address of a head of state to his people is always a prominent political event, for the whole world as well. Especially when it is a state that leads the Central Asian region. Particularly now, when the region as a whole is far from stable, is battered by the coronavirus pandemic and is sensitive to any change in the political and economic climate.

         Last Wednesday, Kazakhstan’s President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev delivered an address (officially called the head of state’s address) to the people of his country. Tokayev noted that this was a jubilee year for Kazakhstan, marking the 30th anniversary of Independence in December, spoke with respect of his predecessor, the first president Nursultan Nazarbayev, and highlighted the country’s achievements, including in the international arena

   –  We must be prepared for any challenges and threats, continuously improve ourselves and always move forward, – the Kazakh leader said with cautious pessimism.


         The challenges in the world, as they say, are not far to seek. The global pandemic COVID-19 posed a global challenge not only to world medicine, but also to the global economy. Kazakhstan’s economy, like everyone else, has received a serious blow to stability and is now fully experiencing its consequences.

 – Our strategic goal is to increase our leadership role in Central Asia and strengthen our position in the global economy,” Tokayev said.

         As it’s easy to figure out, this requires investment, preferably solid and foreign, and their “growth” requires a special climate. Last year, the President of Kazakhstan ordered the government to introduce a new tool – Strategic Investment Agreement, in order to fix agreements between the state and investors. The Republic now has high expectations for it.

        To sweeten the deal for the government, Tokayev reminded that in 2020, for the first time in Kazakhstan’s 10 years of industrialization, the contribution of manufacturing to economic development exceeded the share of the mining sector.

  – The medium-term goal is to increase manufacturing exports by 1.5 times to $24 billion by 2025 and to increase productivity by 30%, – he said.


         However, the ambitious Kazakhstan is not going to be satisfied with the export of products. The country’s president sees the future in information technology. He urged the government to nurture and strengthen the domestic IT- sector. That is, the country needs young, educated professionals in the number of at least 100 thousand people.

 – The export of services and goods of the digital industry should reach at least $500 million by 2025,” the President of Kazakhstan hinted non-transparently These and other tasks will require a complete “digital reboot” of the public sector.

         The country will have to build a fundamentally new architecture of the “digital government”, so new that “100% of state services will be available to citizens from smartphones”. Tokayev reminded about the launch of the Center of Digital Transformation and specified that it is necessary to create a platform of interaction between national companies and the IT community.

 – We need to expand and update data lines step by step, linking them to international corridors,” he explained. Modern data centers that can serve neighboring countries will have to be created.

         According to the President of Kazakhstan, the country’s information and telecommunications potential is enormous, and in the new digital era it will be of literally geopolitical importance.

    –   Kazakhstan should become a central digital hub in a broad part of the Eurasian region,” the head of state concluded.


         Significant, if not to say fundamental, reforms await the country’s energy sector as well. Tokayev dwelled on it separately.

 – Today, these are not just words, but concrete solutions in the form of taxes, duties, and technical regulation measures,” he specified. -All that affects us directly through exports, investments and technology transfer. It is, without any exaggeration, a question of sustainable development of Kazakhstan.

         The president cautiously reminded us that by 2060 our country must reach carbon neutrality, that the population and economy are growing, that they need energy, and that soon we will face an energy deficit.

   – The world experience tells us that the best way out is the peaceful atom.” Tokayev said. -The issue is not simple, so its solution must be approached as rationally as possible, without speculation and emotion.

         The government and Samruk-Kazyna quasi-state holding have been tasked with studying the possibility of developing safe and environmentally friendly nuclear energy in Kazakhstan, as well as, at the same time, to prepare proposals for hydrogen energy. So as not to get up twice.

          The situation here is, however, ambiguous. On the one hand, Kazakh society is very negative about the prospects of building a nuclear power plant in the republic; on the other hand, Kazakhstan has signed and ratified the Paris Agreement aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving the energy sector until it is completely “green”, so the republic simply has nowhere to go. 


         Kassym-Jomart Tokayey also responded without emotions regarding the international situation. Recalling the unstable situation in Afghanistan and the general increase in global tensions, the Kazakh leader announced a restart of the defense-industrial complex and the Military Doctrine of the country.

    –  Strengthening defense capabilities and increasing the responsiveness to threats should also be priorities of national importance,” he said. -We must be ready for external shocks and the worst case scenario.

         In brief, as it’s in the song “We are peaceful people, but our armored train is on the reserve track.” And if anyone wants to test this defense capability, let him know that Kazakhstan is ready for anything in advance.

      Common sense has always been the main feature of the Kazakh leaders. It helped Kazakhstan to survive the collapse of the USSR, the 1990s and global economic crises, etc. Overcoming the pandemic and its consequences seems to be planned according to the old patterns. This can be called conservatism.