75pc citizens will have Internet facility by year-end: Dr Ata -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

75pc citizens will have Internet facility by year-end: Dr Ata

LAHORE- Federal Minister for Science and Technology Prof. Dr Ata-ur-Rehman said the government had focused its attention on the development of information technology (IT), because it was cheaper and did not require large infrastructure.

Speaking at the ground breaking ceremony of Pakistan’s first fibre optic network launched by World Call Multimedia Limited. He said that before October 1999, only 27 towns and cities of Pakistan were connected with Internet, while now the number had increased to 150. By the end of the year, he said, the government intended to provide this facility to 70 to 75 percent citizens of Pakistan. He said that the government was confident of achieving 100 percent annual growth rate in the field of information technology.

The minister said that government wanted to play the role of facilitator and the private sector should initiate projects in the IT sector. He called upon the organisers of the ceremony to work for setting up an IT university in the country.

Dr Ata said that as a result of the govt. initiatives, the information technology was spreading at a very fast rate in the country, and a number of international companies like CISCO and Oracle were showing interest to invest in the IT field in Pakistan.

The minister further stated that the only difference between the developed and the developing countries was that of knowledge and Pakistan could reduce its development gap with the rich nations by enriching its human resources.

Dr Ata said that after taking the charge of his ministry only in a short period of two and half months, he prepared a “special blue print” for the development of IT sector, under which the budgetary allocation for the Ministry of Science and Technology was raised to 400 million dollar per annum. It was enormous than it was in the previous budget, he claimed.

He noted with concern that the total GDP of Islamic world was around $12000 billion per annurn as compared to France, Germany and Japan, where it was $15,000 billion, $24,000 billion and $55,000 billion respectively.

He said that the software export of India is 3 to 4 billion per annum while the figure in Pakistan is not more than 40 million.

The minister also announced that that bandwidth rates would be further decreased in the near future. He said the number of cities having Internet facility has increased to 450, while this facility would be extended to another 300 cities in October this year. After that, he claimed, 70 to 75 percent population would be able to use this facility.

He said the world has turned into a global village due to the development of the information technology, adding at present the number of web-sites available on Internet has increased to 300 million. Trading of worth $400 billion is being done through e-commerce, which is around one percent of total budget of the country, he said.

While responding to newsmen’s questions the minister said that the government will send 100 students abroad every years for higher education in the field of information technology. He said “It would also be spending Rs2 million on each student for a four-year PhD course in IT.” He said that a number of information technology universities were also being established.

Addressing on the occasion, Chief Operating Officer of World Call Limited, Yaqoub Baqi Puri, said that his company will provide the facility of 50 channel optical fibre TV cable system and internet through this network.

He said the company has planned to expand its network to 10 more cities including Karachi Islamabad, Peshawar, Multan, Hyderabad, Queta, Faisalabad, Sialkot and Guhjranwala in near future.

The Chief Executive of the World Call Multimedia Limited, Lt Gen Humayun Bangush (Rtd), also spoke on the occasion, and informed the participants about the history and future plans of his company in the field of fiber optics.

Provincial Minister for Law Dr Khalid Ranjha, Federal Secretary for Ministry of Science and Technology Abul Shamim Arif and Chairman World Call Salman Taseer werr, also present on the occasion.

Source: Business Recorder