Pakistan has formally invited China to invest in the country’s digital businesses including the manufacturing of mobile phone handsets and other digital equipment.
Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Yao Jing called on Federal Minister for Information Technology and Telecommunication Dr. Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui on Tuesday.
Secretary Ministry of IT and Telecommunication Shoaib Ahmad Siddiqui stated that the meeting was held in a cordial environment where Pakistan tabled proposals for investment in IT sectors – the seventh pillar of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
“Yes we sought China’s support in setting manufacturing plants for digital purposes including mobile handsets and would wait for their positive response,” he added.
According to an official statement of the IT Ministry, the federal minister for IT and telecommunication welcomed the Chinese ambassador in his office and discussed matters of mutual interests relating to information technology and e-commerce.
The federal minister said that Pakistan and China are enjoying friendly relations and these ties will be enhanced further in the future. He emphasized the need for boosting cooperation between Pakistan and China in the IT and telecom sectors.
Pakistan wants to benefit from Chinese experience in the IT sector, said the minister. He also sought China’s help in training Pakistan’s youth in IT skills, besides starting the youth exchange program between the two countries.
He said that the environment in Pakistan is conducive for Chinese companies to invest in the IT and telecom sectors.
The Chinese ambassador lauded the role of the ministry regarding the promotion of IT in the country and promised to collaborate with Pakistan in the sector.
Shoaib Ahmad Siddiqui and senior officers of the Ministry were also present in the meeting.
Siddiqui said that Chinese cooperation in this sector will help attract investment, create job opportunities, automation, and cost-savings.
The IT is the 7th pillar of long-term CPEC framework and the ministry is pleading for its formal activation. The proposed ICT sector development under the CPEC framework is comprised of artificial intelligence (AI), cloud computing, robotics, emerging technology, automation, e-governance, and manufacturing plants as well as technology parks.
Pakistan is a fast-growing telecom market with mobile phone subscribers crossing 161 million with the country’s population of around 210 million. Around 70 million use 3G/4G while there are 71 million broadband subscribers. The country imports mobile phones worth millions of dollars to meet the local demand.
The government has dropped the Telephone Industry of Pakistan (TIP) from the privatization list and is looking to establish a mobile phone manufacturing plant in collaboration with the private sector. The government is engaged with different Chinese companies for establishing a manufacturing plant in Haripur.
The move will help reduce the country’s import bill, create jobs and save huge foreign exchange reserves.
The ministry envisages exploring new business models for future projects and joint ventures in the country. The Chinese government can contribute to the e-governance initiative as well in centralizing data to improve efficiency and productivity.
The investment in the IT and telecom sectors will increase manifold with the inclusion of this sector into the CPEC framework.