Uzbek Brain Drain: How can developing countries lure talent back?
It's a problem faced by developing countries the world over. Brain drain where talented youngsters seek a better life abroad. At least 10 percent of Uzbekistan's population has left to find work outside the country. The government is trying to lure the workers back as part of a bold reform program. CGTN's Guy Henderson reports.
This is Trail Watch: a prototype mobile App for hikers complete with swish marketing video, and a business plan. It's been developed by this team of students and aspiring tech entrepreneurs in the Uzbek capital Tashkent. Young, female talent that's entirely home-grown.
AREVIK BAGDASAROVA TEAM ENIGMA "This is homepage: you can create your own route – start time, arrival time – if you get in trouble or get lost. This App will alert your parents."
They're in competition with another local team that's created 'Sport Force'. Designed for users looking to stay active closer to home: by showing them how and where to go.
SOFIA RAKHIMOVA TEAM NEW GENERATION "We decided to create an app where all contacts, places, phone numbers are in one place so it will be easy to access."
The first round winners will compete in a global competition run by the UN: with a final in San Fransisco. Organisers say the Uzbek tech sector is growing: and – win or lose -- all the teams are gaining experience they'll need down the line.
SAIDA YUSUPOVA ORGANISER, TECHNOVATION UZBEKISTAN "The goal is to develop the project, to develop yourself – not to stop at this stage. They now feel they can do it: they have capacity, they have the network."
That hasn't always been the case in a country that was largely closed to the outside world until recently, which led instead to an exodus.
GUY HENDERSON NAMANGAN "At least 10% of Uzbekistan's population have left to seek work abroad. They saw no future here. Next year, the government is due to abolish so-called 'exit visas' which will actually make it easier for people to leave. Their bet, though, is that with new opportunities on offer here, fewer young people will want to."
These young students aspire to stay put once they graduate. Their specialist school, in the more remote east, opened just a couple of months ago: offering teaching in 7 languages. A pool for the increasing number of foreign companies coming here to draw from, but that's not all.
"I am going to study at Uzbekistan World Language University and then I want to be a translator in future."
"I want to be a journalist."
"I want to be an English teacher that teaches our Uzbek children."
Nearby an annual flower festival's getting underway with young people at the heart of celebrations. In the capital and outside it, there are signs that youth here has a spring its step. GH, CGTN, in Uzbekistan's Namangan Province.