May 13, Dushanbe – The first day of the Go Viral Festival brought together more than 700 participants. The enthusiasts and experts from the media, business, culture, and technology sectors participated in this huge event to search for issues, find solutions and come up with answers to the most pressing issues in Tajikistan.
Greeting the participants and guests of the Festival, Abakhon Sultonnazarov, IWPR Central Asia Regional Director, said that Go Viral is a regional project that provides a platform for networking and creating a community of representatives from different sectors and countries.
“Thousands of people get together, unite, communicate, and collaborate to find answers to pressing issues, meet like-minded people, find inspiration, and come up with answers to solve current challenges,” he said.
According to him, Go Viral is a unique project that attracts different and wide audiences: from businessmen and IT specialists to artists and journalists, from school and university students to experts and highly qualified professionals.
“Go Viral speaks the universal language – the language of friendship,” concluded Sultonnazarov.
This year’s topic is Go Viral 2022: Search. Invent. Solve. The program is built around the idea that creative inspiration is already within us.
“We want to create and maintain strong and effective partnerships among the new generation of Central Asian leaders and innovators,” Sultonazarov said.
Farkhod Bilolzoda, Deputy Minister at the Ministry of Industry and New Technologies of Tajikistan, highlighted the importance of this event for the development of Central Asian region and Tajikistan in particular.
He shared the experience and plans of the Ministry and the government of the country to improve the economic potential of Tajikistan recalling the President’s decree declaring 2022-2026 the Years of Industrial Development.
“This is a unique opportunity and we must use it effectively,” said Bilolzoda and added that the Ministry is ready to become a partner in organising such events.
In his welcoming speech, United States Ambassador to the Republic of Tajikistan John Mark Pommersheim noted that everyone “who has lived and worked in Central Asia knows that here, there are many creative, innovative, and talented thinkers who have ideas to share with the world”.
“Go Viral is the platform for you to do this. It is a platform to share ideas, learn from experts, communicate, and collaborate. We are confident that many of you will create new partnerships this weekend and receive the tools to take your ideas to the next level,” he said.
Zack Bazzi, Regional Director at Spirit of America and one of the IWPR partners, stated that his organisation works to bring positive change around the world.
“I came to Tajikistan representing a group of independent Americans who think the Go Viral Network is incredible,” said Zack Bazzi.
They do it because they believe people can make a difference when they get together, he said.
“We see it happening at Go Viral that brought together so many innovators whose ideas will shape the future,” said Zack Bazzi.
He thanked the United States Embassy in Tajikistan for inviting Spirit of America to the Go Viral family.
“I also want to thank the IWPR team for their tremendous work – bringing together the country’s most creative people. We gathered today in the spirit of unity,” Zack Bazzi said.
During the first day of the Festival, the panel discussions in four sectors – media, business, IT, and culture – were held in different rooms of Hyatt Hotel in Dushanbe, where the well-known experts and specialists shared the secrets of their professions with young participants.
The panel discussions sparked so much interest among the participants that there were not enough seats in the rooms. However, this did not bother young enthusiasts: many of them were ready to sit on the floor to listen to the speakers.
In one of the rooms, leading specialists from IT companies, education centres, and IT schools of the country discussed the present and future of IT in Tajikistan.
According to the speakers, the IT sector is rapidly developing in the country, and jobs related to it are becoming high demand. However, there are not enough specialists.
Although the technologies in this sector began developing later in the country than those of its neighbours in the region, nevertheless, it is developing rapidly.
Jafar Asimov, Head of the Automation Department of Babilon-Mobile, stressed that, according to his observations, there has been a “severe shortage” of specialists in this sector in the past few years.
Many companies are ready to train specialists in the field of IT, the experts said. However, it is necessary to create good conditions for the development of this sector in the country: to improve legislation and create a developed infrastructure to keep up with other countries.
The speakers answered numerous questions from the panel discussion participants and expressed their hope that the young generation of the republic would choose jobs in IT.
It another session, the experts discussed the prospects for blogging development in Tajikistan.
The discussion began with the question of who can be considered a blogger.
Answering the question about why such a classification is needed, Zarnigor Mаkhmudova, the author of the blog “Gave Birth for Instagram”, said that sometimes, a young audience thinks blogging is easy but in fact, it is a responsibility to the audience and hard work.
According to journalist Timur Timerkhanov, it is very important for a blogger to engage the audience and influence it.
Journalist Orzu Isoev urged to actively create the Tajik-language content in the blogosphere.
“We are mistaken when we think that everyone in Tajikistan speaks Russian. If you want to increase your audience in Tajikistan, you need to create content in a simple and understandable Tajik language,” Isoev said.
According to him, it is time to train bloggers the same way the journalists were previously trained.
“I have a journalism degree but I am proud when people call me a blogger,” Isoev said.
Ecofeminist and graduate of the Go Viral Influencer Academy Latifa Ganieva urged beginners to overcome fear and not be afraid of online hate.
“Treat online hate positively. I found interesting topics for the next posts in the haters’ comments,” Ganieva said.
The experts also agreed it was necessary to create a bloggers’ human rights organisation.
At another meeting, the experts discussed how to monetise creativity, how to navigate in today’s market, and how to popularise your work.
In this discussion, all experts agreed that creative people in Tajikistan – composers, musicians, artists, movie directors, and performers – lack managers and producers who would solve all the commercial issues.
Since creative jobs do not bring good earnings, many people wishing to work in this area quit halfway through.
“In Tajikistan, people always say, “It would be great for you to have some other job. Creativity is just a hobby,” says Sharofat Arabova.
The discussion panel ended with questions from the audience. The speakers answered all the questions, talked about their creative careers, the difficulties they faced, and the successes on their path, and also, gave a couple of practical tips to the audience.
The participants of the Festival enjoyed the modern art – the works of young artists of Tajikistan, whose paintings were installed in the hall.
The representatives of various professions held workshops and master classes.
At the end of the first day of the Festival, the participants watched the film “48 hours Film Race: Four Main Stages of Content Creation”.
This year, the Festival in Dushanbe is supported by international and local companies like Coca-Cola, Asia+, YourTJ, and Tcell that helped shape the program, bring on a board creative cluster, and provide informational support.
The Go Viral 2022 Festival will be held in Dushanbe, Tashkent, Bishkek, Almaty, and Ashgabat cities from May 13 until July 2.