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On 5 September, the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU) and the “BRIDGE for CSOs” programme welcomed the “One Step Ahead” which is an all-girls team from Karbi community in Aragatsotn marz. The team won the People’s Choice Award at the Global Technovation Challenge 2017, which took place from 7-11 August in San Francisco, USA. Since 2010, more than 10,000 girls from 78 countries have participated in the Global Technovation Challenge. Every year the competition invites girls to identify a problem in their community, and then challenge them to solve it. Girls work in teams to build both a mobile app and a business plan to launch that app, supported by mentors and guided by the programme’s methodology.

ARS_4573“One Step Ahead” created a bilingual sign-language app for Android. They won the Armenian heat before being invited to San Francisco. The Armenian stage of the competition was organised by Technovation regional ambassador “Women and Information Society’’ NGO. AGBU’s EU-funded three-year “BRIDGE for CSOs” programme empowers local initiatives by meaningfully engaging diaspora professionals and providing beneficiaries with access to AGBU’s global network. Yervant Zorian, AGBU General Board Member and President of Synopsys Armenia and the Chief Architect of Synopsys Corporation, has been announced as the first Goodwill Ambassador of the Technovation Initiative.

ARS_4491Hoa-Binh Adjemian, the Head of the Cooperation section of the EU Delegation, attended the event with “One Step Ahead” and congratulated the team: ‘It is a pleasure to be here. I am very impressed by your victory. You have achieved something great which shows this sphere’s potential. Also, this achievement confirms the willingness of the EU to invest in youth, girls and the future. It confirms that Armenia can be prosperous, peaceful and growing nation alongside the EU’.

ARS_4517Zorian was honoured to become the first Goodwill Ambassador of the Technovation Initiative: “I am proud of the team’s success. These achievements were not surprising to me, as I am aware of the potential that exists in Armenia. It is very important to keep momentum and implement what you have already done. It is great that this programme encourages girls to be active in the sphere of technology. I will be very happy if you can continue making contributions for years to come. I will do my best to support you as Goodwill Ambassador”.

The EU Delegation to Armenia, in cooperation with the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU), the Tumo Centre for Creative Technologies, and the Estonian Embassy, organised the “e-Armenia” conference on 29 September 2015. The conference brought together relevant stakeholders to give an overview of the concept of e-Governance (e-Gov), discuss the progress in the sector, and explore potential future developments.
E-Gov initiatives implemented in Armenia have brought about a noticeable change in developing cost-efficient and transparent e-services. To date, EU support to the sector has included the introduction of “Mulberry”, an electronic document management system in government institutions, a tax payer and tax statements submission electronic system, the electronic civil status register, a one-stop-shop vehicle registration system, an automated driver’s licence issuing system, and online traffic fine tracking and payment systems.
ARS_9977Piotr Switalski, the Head of the EU Delegation to Armenia, emphasised the ongoing and future initiatives: ‘I am very glad that the EU emblem is so visible today in the context of the e-Governance and the future of Armenia. The EU has consistently supported initiatives and programmes to introduce elements of e-governance to Armenia. The list of these projects is very long: an e-visa system, online business registry, e-police, etc. These are real assets and achievements for the Armenian government and Armenian institutions. The EU remains commited and wants to continue enhancing e-Governance models further in Armenia. I am so grateful that Estonia is providing its valuable experience. Estonia has achieved much, not only in this region but in the whole European context. It shows that a small country can build an image of being a leader by investing in future-orientated segments of economy and governance. It is a very good example for Armenia’.
ARS_9895The Armenian Vice Prime Minister and Minister of International Economic Integration and Reforms, Vache Gabrielyan, confirmed Armenia’s commitment: ‘The Armenian government pays great attention to the development of the electronic systems in the private sector, as well as in the government itself. Our aim is to make electornic services more avaliable to the public. In this regard, I think that these sorts of conferences are very important as we can have very important discussions, such as Estonia’s experience with e-Governance. Being a small country, they have made big achievements in this field. However, Armenia also has made achievements worth talking about. We have not only encouraged good experience and innovations, but also created a common resource to which everybody can contribute to and from which they can benefit’.
ARS_9913Vasken Yacoubian, an AGBU board member, talked about the importance of the conference: ‘When we had discussions with representatives ftom the EU Delegation to Armenia, we concluded that this event had two main goals. The first is to introduce e-Governance to the wider public and to describe what it is. The second is to discuss how we can use this platform for the Armenian Diaspora. We think that this platform is so important as it helps governance to become more transparent and make boundaries disappear’.
The participants of the conference discussed next steps, which include making information and services as user friendly and accessible as possible by harmonising different systems, and exploring potential cooperation with the Diaspora. Speakers at the conference included government officials, representatives from the Diaspora, IT experts, representatives of international organisations, and other relevant stakeholders.