ISLAMABAD ( BMZ REPORT )
UN Secretary General’s Special advocate on Inclusive Finance for Development, Queen of Netherlands, Her Majesty Maxima on Thursday appreciated the endeavors of Ministry of IT for uplifting of telecom sector of Pakistan. HM Queen Maxima met the Minister of IT in Islamabad today. Upon her arrival, Minister of State for Information Technology, Ms. Anusha Rahman gave a warm reception to the Queen. Federal Secretary IT, Mr. Azmat Ali Ranjha, Chairman PTA, Chairman NTC, Members Telecom, IT, Legal and HRD were also present during the event.
Minister of State for IT apprised the Her Majesty Queen Maxima that the present government under the visionary leadership of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif fully realizes the potential of ICTs to spur socio-economic growth; and considers ICTs as a key enabler to achieve efficiency, transparency, good governance and empowering the people. MoIT is pursuing with the vision of accelerated digitization to transform Pakistan into a knowledge based economy. Our focus remains on ubiquitous development of ICT infrastructure across the country with special emphasis on serving marginalized segments of the society and bridging the digital divide. Ministry of IT has played its role as an important stakeholder with respect to provision of ubiquitous and affordable telecommunication services, especially cellular mobile services, to help, interalia with improving access of un-banked people of Pakistan living in remote areas to the financial services.
As a Policy priority, this government has launched Next Generation Mobile (3G/4G) Services in Pakistan in 2014. On technology front, Pakistan has become at par with the developed world. Today Pakistan has more than 15% broadband penetration and growing as compared to less than 3% two years ago. With proliferation of wireless broadband mainly accessed through Smartphones the data bandwidth requirement has nearly doubled over the previous year. Broadband (3G/4G) data has enabled huge opportunity for innovative products, apps and services particularly in the social sector domains e.g. e/m-medicine, e/m-commerce, e/m-health and e/m-learning, etc. The Telecommunication Policy 2015 is very much aligned with Post 2015 Sustainable Development Goals and the WSIS Action Lines.
While addressing the digital divide, Minister informed HM Queen of Netherlands that the under-served and unserved areas are the prime focus of the Ministry and all projects to provide connectivity for disadvantaged segments will be rolled out by early 2018. To benefit whole communities we are establishing 500 tele-centers for people of these areas through USFCo. These tele-centers will not only create employability for the local people but also provide them basic e-services i.e., e-commerce, e-health, e-education and e- agriculture. It will be a best model of public-private partnership for the welfare of the people.
Our policy vision of accelerated digitization, which is very much aligned to the theme of “Digital Inclusion”, is an indication of our commitment to development of the opportunities for women empowerment through ICTs, which is a policy priority of MoIT.
As a special initiative for Girls, MoIT has partnered with Microsoft Corporation to increase access for all girls particularly those extremely disadvantaged, to learn coding and computing skills. Considering the importance of e-payment gateway, Ministry of IT is focusing on making online transactions readily available to the buyers and sellers. E-commerce framework is also being prepared in collaboration with Ministry of Commerce, SBP and other stakeholders to unleash full potential of e-commerce for our economy.
Her Majesty Queen Maxima highlighted the need of financial inclusion particularly women and marginalized segments. Financial inclusion plays a pivotal role in promoting inclusive economic growth through enhancing livelihood particularly for women, she added. She said that in the meantime, for interoperability is a need to enhance financial inclusion. One of the key pillars to realize the ambition includes access to infrastructure. She added that affordable smart phones for women are pivotal and in this regard, special incentives can be given by Public Private Sector, along with any additional fiscal measures as may be adopted.
Her Majesty, Queen Maxima appreciated the commitment and dedication of MoIT in pursuing the agenda of digital Pakistan and working for communities to have maximum connectivity that will also lead to financial inclusion. She offered International Community’s full support for further initiatives of Government of Pakistan in this regard.