The Bishkek office that website developer Mikhail Ageev shares with three colleagues – a line of tables facing out over the city panorama, where each hunches over a laptop – is so minimalist it looks like it could be abandoned at a moment's notice. “People in our line of work often talk about leaving [Kyrgyzstan],” said Ageev. “But for the moment, most of our clients are here, and so we are still here.”
Techies in Kyrgyzstan, Ageev says, often feel limited connections to home. Mostly they are self-taught, because computer-technology departments at state universities are underfunded and woefully out of tune with the global tech market. And though the average starting salary is considered very good for Kyrgyzstan at about $600 per month, exciting tales of Kyrgyz developers making big money abroad float often through the community. Authorities sometimes talk about inspiring information and communications technology (ICT) experts to stay in Kyrgyzstan, but there appears to be little strategy and some serious handicaps.
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Chris Rickleton is a Bishkek-based journalist.