485,000 Internet users in nearly 450 cities, towns -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

485,000 Internet users in nearly 450 cities, towns

KARACHI- More than 485,000 people from 450 cities and town of Pakistan are taking direct advantage from the treasure of information through Internet.

The affordable electronic accessibility in distant locations has enabled the masses to explore a totally new world and utilize the precious information, which is available on millions of web pages, according to Special Adviser to Minister Science and Technology, Salman Ansari.

He said the number of existing 485,000 Internet users are expected to rise to 800,000 in early next year and they will be using high bandwidth of 250 megabytes sec. Presently, the bandwidth of 207 megabytes/sec is being used against very low band width of 32 megabytes/sec. in March 2000.

He said that the government had taken some tremendous steps to promote telecommunications and information technology (IT), which resulted in the growth of Internet and cellular phone industries.

Ansari hoped if IT-friendly policies were allowed to continue, Pakistan would stand among major IT offshore players. He cited major offshore players including India, Ireland and Israel that have annual software exports of $8 billion, $5 billion and $1.5 billion, respectively.

Giving a brief note of information about global IT industry. Ansari said that system integration possesses the share of $ 90 billion, processing services $ 80 billion. Outsourcing $ 71 billion and software and hardware installation $ 80 billion.

“We need consistency in IT policies to grab our share from global IT market and attain the target of $1 billion software export within five years.” To a question, he said the E-government programme would help to create integration among the government departments and avoid the people to get trapped in lengthy and monotonous official procedures. The programme also aims at poverty alleviation, tele-agriculture and tele-medicine, he added.

The government has planned to produce world class IT professionals by devising a plan of establishing virtual university, hiring foreign faculty and setting up computing centers in universities and colleges, the adviser said.

“The establishment of IT forums like computer centers in schools, accreditation council, science and technology television, women in IT, Urdu and regional language systems development, tele-medicine, tele-agriculture etc. are very much helpful to promote IT culture in the country.”

He said the annual allocations, in the next fiscal year, for information technology would reach the mark of Rs 3500 million. The government will act as facilitator, while the private sector will drive and implement the plans, he added.

Source: The Nation