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Pakistan committed to bridge rural-urban digital divide: minister

By Staff Reporter | The News Sep 26, 2021

ISLAMABAD: Syed Amin Ul Haque, Federal Minister for IT and Telecommunication, on Saturday said Pakistan was committed to bridge the digital divide between rural and urban communities with a focus on youth empowerment and gender equality.

“Government of Pakistan has brought many reforms for creating a better environment for tech-based businesses in the country,” the minister said addressing the Digital Cooperation Organization’s (DCO) virtual meeting.

Due to the effective policies of the government, Pakistan witnessed landmark achievements in the Information and communication technology (ICT) sector in recent years, he added.

The DCO held a forum alongside the UN General Assembly, inviting the ministers from all seven member countries. The aim of the event was to discuss the role of the DCO in building an inclusive digital age in which more nations can prosper.

Ministers from all seven founder member countries i.e., Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Nigeria, Oman, and Saudi Arabia including Pakistan attended the meeting while Maria-Francesca Spatolisano, Assistant Secretary General for Policy Coordination and Inter-Agency Affairs of UN also joined the session.

Haque further said the rise of digital economy, accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic, transformed the world, but its global potential was yet to be fully realised. “Countries face new challenges as the global scale of the digital economy and the power of private sector actors grows,” he said.

“Being a founding member of DCO, the Government of Pakistan fully endorses that DCO is actively pursuing its vision of achieving social prosperity and growth of the digital economy by unifying efforts to advance the digital transformation agenda and promote common interests of the member states.”

“Government of Pakistan strongly believes in mass adoption of emerging digital technologies and innovative applications to enable cross-sector socio-economic development and transformation of economic activities, governance models, social interaction, and achievement of sustainable development goals,” Haque said.

He mentioned Pakistan had been named one of the fastest growing economies in Asia in Mckinsey & Co’s latest report on the Pakistani ecosystem.

During the fiscal year 2020-21, Pakistan’s IT exports increased 47.4 percent and crossed the $2 billion mark for the first time in the country’s history.

The World Economic Forum (WEF) ranked Pakistan among the best countries in terms of the affordability of ICT services, while according to latest International Labour Organization (ILO) report, Pakistan has been the 2nd largest supplier of online labour in software development and technology. Pakistan substantially improved its position in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business report. The IT minister said the government had a vision of accelerated digitisation and transformation of Pakistan into a knowledge-based economy to spur economic growth through innovation and entrepreneurship.

Pakistan had launched a programme to build a network of National Incubation Centers, the minister said, adding that his ministry had successfully established five National Incubation Centers, inducting 440+ promising startups.

“A strategic plan and roadmap for 5G technology in Pakistan is also being formulated keeping in view the aspects of Spectrum Management, Infrastructure Development, Review of Telecom Regulations and 5G applications/use cases”, he added. Syd Amin Ul Haque further said the DCO was an ideal platform for Pakistan and other countries to learn from each other by working together and collaborating at the regional level.

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