The federal Minister for IT & Telecommunication, Syed Amin Ul Haque, declared on Wednesday that Pakistan’s First Right of Way Policy is a milestone towards ‘Digital Pakistan’ that aims to promote modern telecommunication services, and resolve issues regarding the establishment of telecommunication systems and the introduction of fast track processes for the provision of the Right of Way through the One Window Operation.
He stated this at the event ‘Right of Way Policy: A Milestone Towards Digital Pakistan’ while attending it as the Chief Guest.
The minister added that Pakistan offers an open and deregulated market with a licensing regime that is supportive for establishing businesses in the country while focusing on the Ease of Doing Business.
“The Government of Pakistan strives to improve its citizens’ quality of life and economic well-being by ensuring the availability of accessible, affordable, reliable, universal, and high-quality ICT services,” he said.
The minister added that due to the investor’s friendly policies of the Government of Pakistan, there is a significant presence of multinational companies operating in the country’s Technology & Telecommunications sector.
The Telecom sector had made significant contributions to Pakistan’s economic growth in addition to over Rs. 278.5 billion to the National Exchequer during the last year, which is commendable.
“Today we have 176 million mobile and smartphone connections with more than 83 percent tele-density”, the minister remarked.
He said that the need for the high proliferation of mobile broadband services in the country and its impact on the overall GDP and productivity has been highlighted during the ongoing pandemic. He also remarked that today it is promising to see that with 93 million subscribers of broadband services, the growth of Digital Financial Services and other e/m services are being led by the Telecom sector.
“Pakistan has a highly robust Public-Private Partnership Mechanism whereby the Digital Divide is being bridged through the Telecom sector’s contribution of 1.5 percent of Annual Gross Revenue in the Universal Service Fund, and 0.5 percent being contributed towards the Research and Development Fund leading towards Incubations and startups ecosystems”, he said.
The IT Minister also stated that the government is investing heavily in the enhancement of digital infrastructure in the underserved areas nationwide, which has led to equitable sharing of opportunities and resources while paving the way for accelerated economic growth.
Through the USF, the Ministry of IT and Telecommunication has already started dozens of projects for the proliferation of Digital Infrastructure and Services in the unserved and underserved areas of the country over the last eight months that are estimated to be about Rs. 14 billion.
He said that while access to Telecommunication Services is a prerequisite to digitalization, the Right of Way has remained a major impediment in the deployment of infrastructure since the enactment of the Pakistan Telecom Re-Organization Act 1996.
“I am glad that after extensive efforts of my team especially the tremendous efforts and contribution of our Legal and Telecom Wings towards the formulation and approval of Right of Way Policy,” the minister said.
He added that they are working for additional spectrum availability for 3G and 4G network expansion, better quality and coverage of services, rationalizing the taxation of the ICT sector, increasing 4G smartphone penetration in the country, and the launching of 5G services in the country.
“Moreover, we have uploaded the drafts of National Broadband Policy 2021 and Cyber Security Policy 2021 for stakeholders’ consultation,” he said.
The event was attended by Secretary IT Shoaib Ahmed Siddiqui, the Chairman PTA Major General Amir Azeem Bajwa, Officials from the Ministry of IT & Telecommunication, the CEOs of the Telecom Operators, dignitaries from different sectors, and stakeholders.