The Federal Minister for Information Technology and Communications Syed Aminul Haq has announced free IT training for 500 youngsters from Hyderabad and inaugurated the Software Technology Park at Hyderabad Institute of Arts, Science, and Technology. He was addressing the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signing ceremony between the Pakistan Software Export Board (PSEB) and the Hyderabad Institute of Arts, Science and Technology (HIAST) at a local hotel on Friday.
Speaking on the occasion, Haq said the MoU between PSEB and HIAST was a major achievement. He added that the MoU covered multifaceted cooperation in terms of establishing a software technology park at the university campus, capacity building, online training, developing linkages between academia and the industry besides facilitating the IT startups and freelancers.
According to him, currently, there are 16 software technology parks across Pakistan with 1,169,500 sq. ft. of space offering state-of-the-art facilities to the technology companies. He noted that Pakistan’s IT industry had achieved significant expansion and growth in exports but the IT industry remained concentrated in Karachi, Islamabad, and Lahore only.
The minister also said that 4G coverage needs to be increased to 50 percent before launching 5G. 4G internet users currently stand at 41 percent of the mobile internet users. He apprised that 1.4 million new 4G users were being added every month and that at the present pace the desired percentage of the fourth generation mobile internet users would be attained by the end of 2021. Haq said the federal government is also encouraging the manufacture and assembly of mobile phones in Pakistan with the aim of reducing the high prices of cell phones. “We want that our youth can buy a good quality mobile phone for Rs. 8,000 to Rs. 12,000 instead of paying Rs. 50,000 to Rs. 100,000,” he added.
He lamented that if the previous governments had planned the same much earlier the prices of the cell phones would have been low beside the creation of employment. The minister said that the government was trying to provide 3G and 4G internet services in the areas where those services were currently not available. According to him, Rs. 21.9 billion had been spent on the expansion of those services so far.
He informed that after taking charge of the ministry he announced Rs, 550 million IT project for Sanghar district. Syed Amin ul Haque credited his Ministry for increasing the country’s IT exports from $995 million in 2019 to $1.23 billion by June 2020, despite the slump in the global economy due to COVID-19.
He expressed the hope that the IT exports would potentially grow to $5 billion by the end of the present government’s tenure in 2023.
“Prime Minister Imran Khan’s vision is to see digital Pakistan and the first objective is to ensure connectivity,” he underlined. Haq said the government wanted to play a role in training, capacity building, coordination, and facilitation for the IT industry.
In his welcome address, the Managing Director of PSEB Osman Nasir said the IT minister had directed the board to expand the IT industry which was limited to only 3 cities of the country. He apprised that the PSEB was trying to acquire between 5,000 square feet to 10,000 square feet of land for setting up an information technology park in Hyderabad. “This will trigger the growth of the IT sector in the cities considered to be of secondary and tertiary importance by the industry,” he observed.
He briefed that other benefits of a technology park included the development of a related ecosystem, such as a strong science base in the surrounding areas of a technology park and also provides for the development of entrepreneurial culture as tenants of the technology park nurture talent which results in fostering start-ups, technology experts and entrepreneurs.