Updated: 26-Jun-2002 Week of 17-23 June 2002

20 June 2002

Computer networking panel meeting
in Kazakhstan

A meeting of the NATO Science Committee's Advisory Panel on Computer Networking took place in Almaty, Kazakhstan from 20 to 22 June. The Vice-Minister of Education and Science, Professor G. Mutanov, welcomed participants to the Kazakh National Technical University on behalf of the Kazakh government.

The Computer Networking Panel is overseeing the development and installation of the 'Virtual Silk Highway' - a satellite-based network which will provide a link to the Internet for the academic and education communities in eight countries of the southern Caucasus and Central Asia.

Vice Minister Mutanov pointed out the importance the Kazakh government pays to the development of information technology knowledge and skills in its educational system and expressed appreciation for the support provided by the NATO Science Programme through its provision of access to the Internet for higher education and research institutions.

The networking hardware for the "Silk Highway Project", including donated equipment, is currently being delivered to Hamburg, Germany, the site of the European hub. It will then be assembled and tested before being shipped to the recipient countries. Shipping is expected to begin in early August.

At the Panel meetings in Almaty discussions centred around setting up appropriate organisational structures for the joint management of the project in the future - i.e. a Silk Management Board, Fiscal Committee and Technical Working Groups. Formal eligibility requirements were also clarified, designed to ensure that the countries were ready to receive their part of the project, being in a position to exploit the delivered equipment.

The NATO Science Committee met in Tashkent, Uzbekistan the week before, at the invitation of the Uzbek authorities, and the Silk Highway Project was among the subjects discussed at a regional seminar which took place on that occasion. The Virtual Silk Highway is being awaited with lively anticipation in the countries concerned, and a section of the seminar was devoted to a discussion of the opportunities the project will provide, and the challenges it will present.

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