Federal Minister for Information Technology and Telecommunication (ITT) Syed Amin-ul-Haque, while asking the international community to collaborate with Pakistan, has said that partnering with Pakistan means partnering with a huge repository of capable and delivering youth.
He made the remarks in his key policy address at the Ministerial Conference of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU PP-22) in Bucharest on Tuesday.
The minister highlighted that Pakistan has always been open to partnering in all areas that are mutually beneficial for all stakeholders. It certainly includes technology as one of the preferred undertakings.
“Pakistan has geared itself up for rapid adoption of Information and communication technology (ICT) to deliver the socio-economic development of the country which was committed to our people. Pakistan has vastly improved programs to serve the rural community more effectively. Concerning wireless broadband access program, provision of LTE technology has been made a mandatory part for the delivery of services,” the minister said
“Pakistan has increased the coverage and data throughput which will eventually benefit the end user. Reducing the sector’s emissions and following the approach of Green ICT UN’s SDG Goal 7 (Clean Energy), all Universal Service Fund projects now require Operators to power up their infrastructure through Solar Energy. Pakistan’s Fiber Optic program has evolved as well,” he added.
He also mentioned that the IT Ministry has introduced OPEX subsidy, rationalized (subsidized) tariffs and access to health facilities.
Past performance of Pakistan’s ITT Sector
He highlighted that the last 4 years have been the busiest for Pakistan concerning Universal Service Fund‘s (USF) outreach. Only in this period, Pakistan has contracted 79 new projects which is double the number of projects it did before this period since its inception which was way back in 2007. The total coverage to more than 15,000 rural remote villages and 27.8 million people has been enabled in this period, he said.
He remarked, “Our government envisions digital Pakistan to bring social and economic prosperity and citizen empowerment through the digital transformation of Pakistan. We are working on a holistic digital ecosystem for Pakistan with advanced concepts and components for the swift delivery of next-generation digital services.”
While Highlighting the digital Pakistan vision, IT Minister said, “The implementation plan will position the nation for accelerated digital transformation, matching the pace of leading economies, resulting in greater economic opportunities, efficient public administration and governance structures, and the improved socio-economic well-being of its citizens. While working on Pakistan’s digitization roadmap three key principles on sustainability are not being ignored which are Reduce, Reuse and Recycle are referred to in our official meetings as 3Rs.”
Climate Change and ITT
The minister mentioned that despite being the lowest in global carbon emission ranking, Pakistan is one of the largest affectees by climate change in the world. Recent floods in the country have been devastating and the havoc left behind is beyond explanation. That is why IT Ministry while going through cross-sectorial digital transformation, is emphasizing the need to close the loops of material and energy flows, he added.
“Optimization of resources at different government levels is already helping in reducing environmental impacts. Through a solar-powered National Assembly and fully digitized federal cabinet sessions we are promoting less paper and energy-efficient eco-system,” he said.
He added that governments around the globe need to learn today from the tech sector; how emerging apps and platforms are empowering consumers to make more informed decisions about lifestyle and consumer choices. It is time to appreciate, acknowledge and adopt the thought process emerging out of today’s tech innovation which is a product of the 4th industrial revolution. We are in the process of automating citizen services on modern lines to bring efficiency in the governance at every level, he said.
“We are aiming to adopt an integrated approach as the government of Pakistan has identified key strategic enablers where interventions will prove vital in achieving the digital Pakistan vision. Such interventions will also improve Pakistan’s ranking and performance in various global indices as well as help in achieving sustainable development goals,” the IT minister added.
Pakistan’s ICT Sector
The minister said, “In recent years Pakistan’s ICT economy has achieved successive, stellar growth rates and is among the fastest growing sectors within Pakistan, thereby demonstrating the ability of Pakistan’s ICT industry to deliver IT solutions and services through sustainable models. Pakistan believes that ICT technologies can play a vital part in solving the climate change issues that the world is facing and is making an all-out effort to ensure broadband coverage for all Pakistanis, reducing digital gaps, enhancing digital skills and accelerating the adoption of E-Government in line with ITU’s Strategic plans for 2024 -2027 and all this through a sustainable policy framework.”
He said that enormous incentives are being given to foreign investors, especially in the ITT sector, and this is the most suitable time for investment in Pakistan.
Engagements with Foreign Delegates
Later, on the sidelines of the event, Haque attended various meetings with ITT Ministers and the Head of Missions of Saudi Arabia, Turkey, China, United Kingdom, Egypt, Ghana, Japan and Malaysia. During the meetings, it was agreed on joint initiatives and cooperation regarding cyber security, cloud policy, and digitization including enhancement of relations in the ICT sector.