17th May 2016
World Telecommunication and Information Society (WTIS) Day-
May 17, 2016
Minister of State for IT,
MOS SairaAfzal Tarar
Secretary Information Technology & Telecom
MD Baitul Mal
CEOs of TELECOS
Country Head, Microsoft
Ladies & Gentlemen,
Assalam-o-Alaikum& Good Morning
It is indeed a pleasure for me to participate in this event to mark the World Telecommunication and Information Society Day.
Let me start by saying that in the ICT sector the goals of the Government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif included the fast digital development in Pakistan to bridge the socio-economic divide through digital financial inclusion.
My heartfelt commendation to Minister of State for Information Technology and Chairman, PTA and their teams for achieving an impressive progress in the first three years of our government in the field of ICT.
Our Government’s development policy agenda is based on the principle of inclusive economic growth where each and every individual of the society has a fair treatment and should share the opportunities and benefits from overall economic growth.
Despite many challenges, the broad based and deep rooted structural reforms with stabilization measures have been implemented in first three years of our government, which provided much needed stimulus and stability for the rejuvenation of the economy. Macroeconomic indicators have improved significantly. I am sure that China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), with its massive new economic opportunities, will give a further boost to the economic turnaround. There is a lot of interest in different parts of the World to potentially invest in Pakistan.
Pakistan’s economic progress has also been acknowledged by International Financial Institutions and rating agencies. The economic performance has been consistently improving due to persistent progress in structural reforms, continued strengthening of external payments, and better economic and fiscal performance during the first three years of the Government.
As a result of all these developments, investment climate has improved and investors’ confidence and trust in Pakistan’s economy is on the rise. While this has been acknowledged by 22 credible international institutions over the course of the last three years, the latest confirmation has come through the results of OICCI’s (Overseas Investors Chamber of Commerce & Industry) latest survey of Business Confidence Index (BCI). It recorded a positive index of 36%. Having taken over the government, three years ago, when the BCI was a negative 34%, it gives us a lot of confidence that what we have done in the last three years is now paying off. It is also a welcome sign that improvement in business confidence is across all sectors.
Similarly, the recent Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) upgrade by the United States is a very welcome development. The upgrade has been possible due to our efforts to improve intellectual property protection and enforcement. I feel that this upgrade will significantly improve the business opportunities for our IT companies.
Ladies & Gentlemen!
The Government fully realizes the potential of Information & Communication Technologies (ICT) to spur socio-economic growth and considers it one of the key enablers to achieve efficiency, transparency, good governance and empowering the people. The Government has a vision of accelerated digitization and transformation of Pakistan into a knowledge based economy.
This year’s theme of International Telecommunication Union’s ‘World Telecommunication and Information Society Day’, i.e. ‘ICT Entrepreneurship for Social Impact’ is very pertinent in Pakistan’s context in terms of a very healthy number of ICT graduates (20,000 graduates every year in ICT related disciplines) and skilled work force and government’s commitment for promoting entrepreneurship and employment.
The sector has been revitalized with the introduction of Next Generation Mobile Services (Mobile broadband) in 2014. Availability of these technologies have resulted in speedy proliferation of broadband access in urban and rural communities of Pakistan with a record achievement of more than 30 Million subscribers in less than 2 years, by April 2016. At the same time, around USD 1.3 billion worth of investments are being made in rolling out of 3G/4G Networks and infrastructure.
The exports of IT and IT enabled services have increased by 41% since 2013. It is heartening that Pakistan is now at number four in the world when it comes to freelancing. While, this achievement is very encouraging it also re-emphasizes the potential of our IT industry.
We are fully committed to support entrepreneurship and Public- Private Partnership (PPP). Ministry of IT & Telecommunication, in particular, has strategized to leverage the synergies of PPP and has initiated several significant projects to harness the full potential of ICT.
I can see prospective young and energetic IT professionals who would soon be under the umbrella of National Incubation Centre of the Ministry of IT & Telecom. I understand that the Ministry will provide full facilitation to their start-ups, including premises, mentorship and opportunities to reach out to local and international markets. I wish you all young men and women all the success and I hope some of you can transform your businesses into industry giants and make us all proud.
The collaboration between Ministry of IT and the technology giant Microsoft, for the project to empower women with ICTs is very commendable. I am sure that the project will go a long way to spur the socio economic uplift of this very important segment of our society. We are grateful to Microsoft for their partnership in this initiative.
The establishment of Technology Parks in Pakistan is also an important initiative. I am confident that it will provide facilitation to a range of stakeholders in ICT ecosystem including entrepreneurs, SMEs and technology giants. We are grateful to our Korean friends who are helping us in setting up the first of such parks in Islamabad.
The utilization of USF and R & D Funds by Government of Pakistan for development of ICT infrastructure and services across Pakistan is a successful and globally quoted model. It has helped us implement various infrastructure projects for optic fibre deployment, rural telephony including 3G and broadband services in underserved and unserved areas through a Public Private Partnership mechanism where the government has provided a subsidy of over Rs.35 billion. Ministry of IT & Telecommunication certainly deserves credit for using PPP models effectively.
We endeavor to promote further proliferation of broadband and ICT services in Pakistan. Recently, approved telecommunication policy aims at transforming Pakistan into a digital economy. We are auctioning further spectrum to meet market demand and induce better quality of service.
The Government of Pakistan has also introduced an incentive package for mobile phone manufacturers in the country to support uptake of usage of ICT application and services.
I would like to reiterate the commitment of the government to facilitate ICT sector and would also like to take this opportunity to convey my appreciation and gratitude to all stakeholders, who have contributed in making the ICT sector of Pakistan a success story and urge them to keep abreast of the latest developments and participate in Governments initiatives to nurture ICT entrepreneurship in Pakistan.