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Kazakhstan needs drones with Korean expertise: vice minister

Azamat Beispekov proposes enhanced cooperation with S. Korea to make the Central Asian country a drone hub

May 14, 2024 - 13:57 By Sanjay Kumar

Kazakhstan's Vice Minister of Industry and Construction Azamat Beispekov,speaks in an interview with The Korea Herald at Kazakh Embassy in Yongsan-gu, Seoul on Thursday. (Kazakh Embassy in Seoul)

Kazakhstan's Vice Minister of Industry and Construction Azamat Beispekov showed keenness to integrate Korean expertise into his country's drone industry during an interview with The Korea Herald on May 9.

“Cooperation with Korea in the field of drones is very important,” said Beispekov, highlighting the technology’s role in shaping Kazakhstan’s future in oil and gas, agriculture, and road safety.

A reciprocal arrangement in drone production has the potential to elevate Kazakhstan’s status as a drone hub in Central Asia, according to Beispekov.

“It is not a secret. Everyone knows that Korea is an advanced country for manufacturing drones,” he reiterated when asked why Korea is Kazakhstan’s strategic choice, citing Korea’s reputation as a high-tech powerhouse in drone manufacturing.

However, the vice minister expects partnerships to go beyond mere procurement and reach a mutual exchange of knowledge and skills.

“We want not only to buy drones from Korea but also to cooperate in sharing knowledge and skills,” Beispekov told The Korea Herald.

Beispekov was in Korea to attend the Korea Drone Expo 2024.

Kazakhstan's Vice Minister of Industry and Construction, Azamat Beispekov, speaks in an interview with The Korea Herald at Kazakh Embassy in Yongsan-gu, Seoul on Thursday. (Kazakh Embassy in Seoul)

Before the Korea Drone Expo in Songdo, Incheon, Astana held the “2024 Kazakhstan-Korea Drone Roadshow,” focusing on UAV production and establishing the Kazakhstan-Korea Drone Competence Development Academy.

Industry experts suggest that Kazakhstan’s vast territory presents an opportunity to become a focal point for drone utilization across various sectors, including forestry, agriculture, energy, rescue, mapping and defense.

The country’s strong trade relations with Korea make it an appealing market.

Korean drone technology, or K-drone technology, is experiencing rising demand in Central Asia, leading Korean companies to actively seek opportunities to enter the market in the region, according to Kotra.

The Kazakh Ministry of Industry and Construction plans to deploy advanced drone solutions, emphasizing operator training and regulatory measures for UAV usage.

Central Asia has seen a rise in drone usage in sectors like agriculture and urban infrastructure. All five Central Asian militaries have drones. Yet, experts worry about the potential militarization and security risks due to expanded borders in the region.

When asked about drone usage in recent global military and security conflicts, he quickly asserted that Kazakhstan’s focus remains steadfastly on the peaceful application of drones.

“We want productions only for our own safety and self-defense reasons,” clarified Beispekov.

“We must use drones only for peaceful purposes, not for military purposes,” the vice minister emphasized, advocating for instilling this principle in the younger generation.

Kazakhstan's Vice Minister of Industry and Construction, Azamat Beispekov (eighth from lef), visits JEI university in South Korea with a delegation on Wednesday. (Kazakh Embassy in Seoul)

On export regulations and partnerships with Korean companies, Beispekov pointed to Kazakhstan’s strides in drone manufacturing, citing an example of testing drones designed for firefighting and emergency response at Kazakhstan’s Petropavlovsk Heavy Machine Building Plant.

There is a need for robust legislation to govern the use of drones to revolutionize various industries, according to Beispekov.

Kazakhstan can amend legislation and regulations for the peaceful use of drones, he said, highlighting ongoing efforts to collaborate with Korean universities to establish a drone academy in Kazakhstan. JEI University intends to enhance global cooperation in the drone curriculum by promoting international exchange and cooperation, including establishing a new curriculum at Kazakhstan universities.

“It only depends on us how we raise children and how we teach them about drones,” the vice minister said, underscoring the shared responsibility of individuals and governments alike in guiding the ethical evolution of drone technology.