The Universal Service Fund (USF) has awarded a contract worth approximately PKR 1.36 billion to Telenor for providing high-speed mobile broadband 4G services in the Chaghi and Nushki districts of the Balochistan province.
Federal Minister for Information Technology and Telecommunication, Syed Amin Ul Haque, and Chairman Senate, Sadiq Sanjrani, witnessed the contract signing ceremony held at the USF Office on Wednesday.
The contract was signed by Haaris Mahmood Chaudhary, CEO of USF, and Irfan Wahab Khan, CEO of Telenor Pakistan. The ceremony was attended by Senator Naseebullah Bazai, Federal Secretary for IT & Telecom & Chairman USF Board, Dr. Muhammad Sohail Rajput, Member Telecom, Muhammad Omar Malik, Chairman PTA, Major General (R) Amir Azeem Bajwa, and VP for Government Sales, Super Net Limited, Imran Akhtar Shah.
While speaking on the occasion, Haque said “The Digital Pakistan vision is all about bringing Pakistan closer together, ensuring that all parts of the country benefit from securing jobs and opportunities of the future. People in Balochistan should not have to choose between their career and the way of life in their hometown. With high-speed broadband, we can ensure that people in Chaghi and Nushki districts can take advantage of the opportunities that are presented by the digital economy, from health care to education, rural development, and tourism. This project is a stepping stone to create equality of service across the country.” He congratulated the teams of USF and Telenor for achieving this significant milestone.
“This project in Balochistan will benefit an unserved population of 0.16 million in 170 unserved mauzas, thereby covering an unserved area of 47,872 sq. km. of Chaghi and Nushki districts,” Minister IT added.
Haque said that following this project, the total number of projects for 14 districts of Balochistan at the cost of Rs. 8.43 billion has increased to 11. The completion of these projects will benefit more than 2.2 million people from 2,024 villages of Bolan, Jaffarabad, Mastung, Ziarat, Kichh, Panjgur, Gwadar, Pishin, Qila Abdullah, and surrounding areas.
The Federal Minister said that the work of providing uninterrupted mobile services to the commuters on the highways and motorways of Balochistan is in full swing. Under which the project of providing mobile service on 701 km highway from NH25 to NH10 has been completed at the cost of Rs. 759 million. While projects worth Rs. 250 million on 650 km highway from NH25 to NH65 and more than Rs. 410 Million on 451 km highway from NH50 to NH70 are under completion.
Addressing the ceremony, Sadiq Sanjrani, Chairman Senate, said that 4G internet connectivity in Balochistan would bring tangible benefits for households, businesses, and the Government, as it connects people to information and improves the quality of life. He also highlighted the Federal Government’s resolve and commitment to promote and support the initiatives to enhance Pakistan’s technological capacity to develop and produce a globally competitive ICT industry.
Sanjarani hoped that modern technology would play an important role in bringing the Chaghi and Noshki districts of Balochistan province on the digital map of the world. He added that Balochistan still lags far behind other provinces in technology and infrastructure projects. Chairman Senate thanked all the stakeholders for their contribution to this very important project. He congratulated the people of the Chaghi and Noshki districts on the introduction of speed mobile broadband 4G services in the area.
Chairman Senate said, “Huge investments are being made in technology and digitization all over the world. Information and communication technologies have revolutionized every aspect of our lives, be it personal or professional. The socio-economic future of the entire world now depends on fast digital communication. The USF and Telenor’s digitization partnership will help bring backward areas on par with modern areas and provide unprecedented opportunities to local population.” Senate Chairman informed the participants that a university is also being set up in Dalbandin, Balochistan.
Senate Chairman said that access to modern technology provides an opportunity for the young generation to seek education and vocational training to be a part of the national digital revolution. The availability of high-speed online digital access to health, education, agriculture, trade and governance, and other sectors is a matter of urgency.
Chairman Senate reiterated his commitment to continue his full cooperation and support for the development of Balochistan and to work together to bring the people of Balochistan on par with the other comparatively developed provinces.
The Chairman Senate said that there were serious problems of connectivity in Balochistan. The provision of 4G services in the Noshki and Chaghi districts is welcome. He said that 70,000 to 80,000 religious pilgrims travel through this route every year. The provision of this service will help alleviate the sense of deprivation of the people of Balochistan.
CEO of USF said, “Its implementation will be transformative for Balochistan, which will now be able to move forward with renewed confidence in achieving its full economic potential. We are, therefore, pleased and encouraged by this momentum, and we are committed to taking it forward.”
Expressing his resolve to strengthen connectivity throughout the country, Irfan Wahab Khan, CEO of Telenor Pakistan, said, “Connecting Pakistanis to what matters the most is the reason why we at Telenor do what we do. What once was an inaccessible luxury for the people of Chaghi and Nushki districts will now become the norm. Access to critical information, services, and opportunities is only the first step in empowering communities to participate in Pakistan’s economic growth. Together with USF and Ministry of IT and Telecommunication, Telenor Pakistan is honored to play its role in driving digital inclusion and ensuring no one is left behind in an increasingly connected world.”