Projects and project management in Uzbekistan
Uzbekistan is a country in Central Asia, bordered by Kazakhstan to the north, Kyrgyzstan to the northeast, Tajikistan to the southeast, Afghanistan to the south and Turkmenistan to the southwest. The area nowadays called Uzbekistan has a diverse cultural heritage due to its storied history and strategic location.
The first settlers were Eastern Iranian nomads, known as Scythians, and the area was incorporated into the Iranian Achaemenid Empire. After a period of Macedonian Greek rule, it was part of the Iranian Parthian Empire and later the Sasanian Empire, until the Arab conquest of Iran in the 7th century happened. During the 7th century the majority of the population converted to Islam. During this period, the famous cities of Samarkand, Khiva and Bukhara began to grow rich from the Silk Road. After a period of Mongol Conquests, the area became increasingly dominated by Turkic peoples, especially Timur, also known as one of Genghis Khan‘s grandchildren. Later the region was conquered by Uzbek Shaybanids in the 16th century, moving the centre of power from Samarkand to Bukhara.
Three hundred years later Uzbekistan became part of the Russian Empire, with Tashkent as political center of Russian Turkestan. In 1924, the Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic was created. However, during the breakup of the Soviet Union, the country declared independence (on 31 August 1991) and named itself the Republic of Uzbekistan. Nowadays, Uzbekistan is a sovereign state, a secular, unitary constitutional republic, comprising 12 provinces, one autonomous republic, and the capital city of Tashkent. Its first major official language is Uzbek, a Turkic language written in the Latin alphabet and spoken natively by approximately 85% of the population. Russian has widespread use as a governmental language and it´s the most widely taught second language. Uzbeks constitute 81% of the population, followed by Russians (5.4%), Tajiks (4.0%), Kazakhs (3.0%), and others (6.5%). Uzbekistan is a Muslim country, 79% of the population are Muslims, while 5% of the population follow Russian Orthodox Christianity, and 16% of the population follow other religions or are non-religious.
Following the death of Islam Karimov in 2016, the second president, Shavkat Mirziyoyev, started a new course, which was described as a “A Quiet Revolution and Revolution from Above”. This course included abolishing cotton slavery, introducing a tax reform, creating four new free economic zones, as well as improving the relations with neighbouring countries such as Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Afghanistan. The Uzbek economy is in a gradual transition to the market economy, with foreign trade policy being based on import substitution. In September 2017, the country’s currency became fully convertible in the market rates. Uzbekistan is a major producer and exporter of cotton. The country also operates the largest open-pit gold mine in the world. With the gigantic power-generation facilities of the Soviet era and an ample supply of natural gas, Uzbekistan has become the largest electricity producer in Central Asia. Renewable energy constitutes more than 23% of the country’s energy sector, with hydroelectricity and solar energy having 21.4% and 2% respectively.
Agriculture is the backbone of the economy of Uzbekistan and cotton is the main export item of the country. Uzbekistan is now the world’s second-largest cotton exporter and fifth largest cotton producer. The mining industry of Uzbekistan has added to the national output of the country. Gold, coal, copper, zinc, lead, fluorspar, uranium, tungsten and molybdenum are the main mineral resources of the country. Cotton, gold, natural gas, oil, fertilizers, metals, textiles, food products, machinery, and automobiles are the major exports. Imports include machinery and equipment, foodstuffs, chemicals, and metals. At present, the main trading partners are Russia, China, South Korea, Kazakhstan, and Turkey.
World Bank, European Bank of Reconstruction and Development and Asian Development Bank are supporting development projects in a variety of sectors, including but not limited to healthcare, education and energy efficiency. There are many other investment opportunities available for private companies in divers sectors such as Automotive, Chemical, Food and Oil & Gas Industry. As the country is in transition, many construction projects and programmes are under way, foreign investors may support the construction of large infrastructure projects or engage in Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) Projects.
In 2017, the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan published a decree to establish the National Agency for Project Management (NAPM). NAPM is the state agency acting as a legal entity, reporting to the President. Its activities are extended to the state bodies and other establishments, business entities with a government share of more than 50 percent, as well as economic entities supervised by the Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Uzbekistan. NAPM acts also as an authorized body in the field of implementation and development of the digital economy. The agency cooperates with the public and non-public organizations, institutions, business entities, diplomatic missions and consular offices of foreign States in the Republic of Uzbekistan, international organizations, foreign companies and specialists.
January 2019, the Uzbekistan Project Management Association (UzPMA) was established with the support of NAPM and the direct approval of the President of the Republic. Soon later, UzPMA was accepted by the International Project Management Association (IPMA) as its transitional member during the March 2019 Council of Delegates Meeting. The new association is planning to develop education & training programmes for project managers in a variety of sectors, establishing a Certification Body as well as a Young Crew. During two intensive days mid-April various stakeholders of the project management profession where provided with the latest updates on modern project management and related competences.