Minister Shahzad Aryobee, Minister of Communication and Information Technology (MCIT), concluded his one-week visit to Washington DC, where he had a series of meetings with senior US officials and high-ranking officials of international companies, such as Microsoft and Facebook (FB), to discuss bilateral relations and strengthen the Afghan-US partnership in the tech sector.
The Minister started his trip by meeting with the Department of Commerce’s Chief Counsel for the Commercial Law Development Program, Mr. Stephen Garner, and his team to discuss new developments in the areas of communication and information technology. Minister Aryobee and Ambassador Mohib briefed Mr. Garner and his team on the cyber security situation in Afghanistan along with the government’s policies and approaches toward the region and the international community. Mr. Garner affirmed the US government’s interest in working with the Afghan government to develop the sector.
In a meeting with Microsoft Corporation’s Director of International Trade, Mr. Matthew Resiman, the Minister and Mr. Resiman discussed details of the government’s contract to utilize Microsoft 365 and Azure to support their computer systems. In addition, Mr. Aryobee shared the government’s desire to collaborate with Microsoft on e-learning for schools, as well as providing effective data backup as a way to provide high-quality low-cost service.
On May 17, the Senior Advisor to President Ghani, Dr. Mohammad Humayon Qayoumi, and Minister Aryobee received the Senior Vice President of CISCO, Michael Taymani at the Embassy. They went over CISCO’s cooperation with the Operational Center of Cyber Security in Afghanistan and exchanged ideas on how they could upgrade the capacity of information and cyber security.
Mr. Aryobee also held a meeting with ORACLE’s Senior Director of International Relations and Government Affairs, Mr. Prosser Stirling, to provide detailed information of the e-governance, in addition to the initiatives to support Afghanistan’s Cloud Strategic Initiatives.
On May 22, Minister Aryobee met with Facebook officials to discuss enhanced partnership between their respective offices particularly on a project the MCIT is working on to digitize its main archive of documents. They also discussed how Facebook and the MCIT can work together to implement internet security projects, promote the widespread internet usage in Afghanistan, and secure the user information.
Minister Aryobee’s trip concluded with an event hosted at Baker Mackenzie. The Minister provided information about investing in Afghanistan, achievements and progress made in the telecommunications sector, telecom partnerships with neighboring countries, and the cyber security situation.
Ambassador Mohib explained the government’s efforts to encourage investment by simplifying procedures—“the Afghan government has decreased the cost of obtaining new business licenses by 99%”. Minister Aryobee added that, “in just 13 years, the telecommunication sector in Afghanistan has evolved from nearly non-existent to a major contributor to the Afghan economy.” He reinforced that with existing capacity and Afghanistan’s geographic advantages, the country has the potential to be the center of digital activities in Asia.