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Armenia - President Serzh Sarkisian visits the offices of a new IT company in Yerevan, 17Jun2017.

Armenian IT Growth Hits Record High

The rapid growth of Armenia’s information technology (IT) sector employing thousands of engineers accelerated to 38.2 percent last, according to government data.

The tech industry had already expanded by an average of over 20 percent annually in the previous decade, making it the fastest-growing sector of the Armenian economy. According to government estimates, the country’s 500 or so mostly small and medium-sized IT firms earned over $550 million in combined revenue in 2015.

The sector is dominated by the Armenian branches of U.S. tech giants like as Synopsys, National Instruments, Mentor Graphics and VMware. But its steady expansion is also increasingly driven by homegrown Armenian companies.

Armenia - Prime Minister Karen Karapetian visits the offices of the Armenian tech company PicsArt in Yerevan, 24Mar2017.
Armenia – Prime Minister Karen Karapetian visits the offices of the Armenian tech company PicsArt in Yerevan, 24Mar2017.

The most successful of these startups is PicsArt, one of the world’s leading mobile photo editing and sharing applications. The company now has more than 350 employees in Armenia and boasts 90 million active monthly users worldwide.

Another, smaller startup founded in 2013 attracted $5 million in funding from two U.S. venture capital firms earlier this year. The company called Teamable develops special software used by businesses for hiring skilled workers. Like PicsArt, Teamable has offices not only in Yerevan but also in San Francisco.

Another Armenian firm, SoloLearn, won this month the Grand Prize of Facebook’s annual “Apps of the Year” event, which attracted 900 submissions from 87 countries. SoloLearn offers a free online app for people interested in learning computer programming.

Karen Vartanian, chairman of Armenia’s Union of Information Technology Enterprises (UITE), stressed the growing importance of such startups. “Our local products are increasingly emerging and proving a success in the international market,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).

Vahan Shakarian, the executive director of the Yerevan-based company Technology and Science Dynamics manufacturing smartphones and tablet computers, said the sector’s has been rapidly developing because it is export-oriented. He also cautioned: “Booms are possible in economics. They key thing is to at least stay at the same level after they are over. It’s quite a challenge.”

Armenia - Children at the Gyumri branch of the TUMO Center for Creative Technologies, 13May2016.
Armenia – Children at the Gyumri branch of the TUMO Center for Creative Technologies, 13May2016.

For Vartanian, the key challenge is a continuing lack of skilled IT personnel in Armenia. “Our growth is now stunted by a serious shortage of personnel,” he said. “The education system is in tatters.”

Industry executives have long complained about the inadequate professional level of many graduates of IT departments of Armenia universities. According to their estimates, there are now between 2,000 and 4,000 job vacancies in the sector employing about 15,000 people.

Successive Armenian governments have pledged to tackle this problem. Vartanian insisted, however, that there is still no “comprehensive, strategic cooperation” on the matter between the authorities and IT companies.

In January, Prime Minister Karen Karapetian met with a team of government officials and tech executives that proposed a wide-ranging reform of engineering education in Armenia. One of those executives said only half of 1,300 IT students graduating from Armenian universities each year are qualified enough to work in the sector without undergoing further training.

IFJ Marks ‘End of Deadly Decade' With Report on Journalists and Media Staff Killed in 2009

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ)  yesterday issued its report on 139  journalists and media workers who were killed or died while practicing journalism in the course of 2009. The IFJ says that 2009, one of the worst years for journalists’ killings, capped a violent decade which put journalism to the sword and left record numbers of murders of media people. Continue reading “IFJ Marks ‘End of Deadly Decade' With Report on Journalists and Media Staff Killed in 2009”

Blogging Karabakh, or Observer’s Top 9 list of Karabakh blogs

Monument "We Are Our Mountains", widely recognized as a symbol of Nagorno-Karabakh

I’ve been only able to draw a Top 9 list of blogs from Karabakh, because there are only 9 blogs from Karabakh that I know of currently and will greatly appreciate links to any other blogs from Karbakh out there.
Meanwhile, meet these guys (thanks to Kornelij for listing them). A common feature of all – Russian language.
Continue reading “Blogging Karabakh, or Observer’s Top 9 list of Karabakh blogs”

Isn't it ironic…

Helsinki Citizen’s Assembly will organize a conference on December 9th at Erebuni hotel. The discussion will focus on “Human Rights in Armenia: the problem of political prisoners”.
The irony lies in the fact, that former Deputy Prosecutor-General Gagik Jahangirian will be among the invited speakers to share his thoughts on the state of the human rights in Armenia. A controversial figure and a supporter of former president leader Levon Ter-Petrossian, Jahangirian himself was involved in many human rights violations committed by the law-enforcement bodies in Armenia until February 2008, when he voiced his support for the opposition and was discarded from office. Continue reading “Isn't it ironic…”

Inga&Anush Arshakyan’s “Jan-Jan” sounds like Tofiq Quliyev’s “Nakhchivani”, so what?

This video from the YouTube claims that Armenia’s entry into “Eurovision 2009” music contest was actually a rip-off from Azerbaijani musician Tofiq Quliyev’s “Naxcivani” song. Thanks to Hetq blog’s Sard for the link. There are, actually, some similarities between the two songs, which is probably the case with most folk-music in the Caucasus.

Continue reading “Inga&Anush Arshakyan’s “Jan-Jan” sounds like Tofiq Quliyev’s “Nakhchivani”, so what?”

The ‘Armenian’ coffee and the gadget called ‘Jazzve’

CIMG0188 The key thing about ‘Armenian’ coffee is – it’s not ‘Turkish’ coffee. Never mind, that most of the world calls the exact same type of coffee – Turkish coffee…

This high tech gadget called ‘Jazzve’ is instrumental in making your ‘Armenian’ coffee a success. It must be used and old. The handle is often wooden and burned. You can tell at once that it has seen a lot of coffee flow through its belly.

Continue reading “The ‘Armenian’ coffee and the gadget called ‘Jazzve’”

Updated: Armenia really serious about swine flu prevention

Armenia is taking wide-ranging precautions to prevent the spread of influenza A virus subtype H1N1 and I’ve just experienced those measures myself.The whole thing started on the plane, about 40 minutes before we got ready to land in Zvartnots.
A charming Czech stewardess handed out a sheet of paper, asking to fill it in.
“I don’t need this,” I said, thinking it is an immigration form. “I’m a citizen.”
Continue reading “Updated: Armenia really serious about swine flu prevention”

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