Georgia is transforming its information technology (IT) sector and stamping out the illegal use of pirated Microsoft products.
Today the country’s Prime Minister signed a special agreement with the computer software giant to give the country access to legitimate licensed Microsoft products and eliminate the use of illegally pirated software in the country.
"We will be the first post-Soviet country to have legal and licensed Microsoft programs,” Georgia’s Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili said after signing the agreement with Microsoft today.
In previous years Georgia was one of the world’s leading countries to sell pirated Microsoft products. An international survey revealed about 130,000 personal computers were sold in Georgia annually and "almost all” were equipped with illegal versions of Microsoft programs.
Garibashvili believed replacing illegally licensed software would be "a step forward” for the development of Georgia’s IT sector. This in turn would encourage more people to get into the IT sector and promote more Foreign Direct Investments (FDI’s) into the country.
In Tbilisi today the Georgian Government and the American software company signed a license agreement and a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).
Negotiations between the Government and Microsoft to buy legal versions of Microsoft programs started last year. At the time a special commission was established to assess the offers of licensed software companies, prepare a MoU and create a draft law to improve current legislation.
Now an agreement has been reached the Georgian Government will start to buy official, licensed Microsoft products.
"State institutions will use the licensed programs, which guarantee IT systems security. All public servants will have the latest software of Microsoft,” Garibashvili said.
Garibashvili believed replacing illegally licensed software would be "a step forward” for the development of the information technology market in Georgia.
He said Georgia was working towards establishing Western standards of property protection, and to do this, the country had to remove its use of unlicensed software. In his opinion this would develop the country’s IT sector and local business, and encourage them to enter international markets.
"We expect this trend will be useful for Georgian society and business. When property is protected it leads to the dynamic development of the IT ecosystem. Accordingly it will cause the development of IT companies in Georgia,” Garibashvili said.
"At the same time we expect to see an increase in Foreign Direct Investments and to create high salary jobs. This will encourage young people to study IT and become specialists in this field.”
"Unfortunately, many qualified specialists leave Georgia and go abroad to work in jobs there. Now we are creating an opportunity for them to use their knowledge and experience for their country,” Garibashvili said.
Georgia has been known to be the world leader in selling pirated Microsoft products.
In 2011, American market research firm IDC studied the global market and concluded Georgia topped the world terms of usage of pirated Microsoft software. In the survey Georgia gained a score of 93, while Armenia scored 89 and Azerbaijan scored 88.
About 130,000 personal computers were sold in Georgia annually and "almost all” were equipped with illegal versions of Microsoft programs.
In 2010 when Microsoft entered the Georgian market, the use of illegal software was about 95 percent, while by 2013 it had reduced to 91percent.