APP04-13 ISLAMABAD: December 13 - Federal Minister for Information Technology and Telecommunications Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui addressing at inaugural session of Asia Pacific Telecommunity "19th meeting of the South Asian Telecommunication Regulators' Council (SATRC-19)" at local hotel. APP photo by Saleem Rana

ISLAMABAD, Dec 13 (APP):Minister for Information Technology and Telecommunications (MoIT), Dr.
Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui on Thursday said Pakistan was making utmost endeavours
for bridging digital divide and providing communication access to under-served regions
and remote areas.
He was addressing the inaugural session of a three-day
(December 13-15) 19th-Meeting of South Asian Telecom Regulators
Council (SATRC-19), organized here by Pakistan Telecommunication
Authority (PTA) in collaboration with Asia-Pacific Telecommunity
(APT).
The agenda for SATRC this year includes topics of concern
for developing countries on critical issues like digital infrastructure
and new technologies, increasing broadband penetration, spectrum
management, technology & policy considerations and innovation
towards 5G era.
The Minister said first ever digital policy of Pakistan
envisions the country to become a strategic enabler for an
accelerated digitization eco-system to expand knowledge based
economy and spur socio-economic growth.
The policy aims to establish and build a framework for
setting-up incubation centers in provincial capitals and major
secondary cities. This will facilitate and nurture new Information
and Communication Technology (ICT) entrepreneurs and start-up
by tapping a vast network of business partners and mentors
including specialized innovation centers in thematic areas such
as FinTech, Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things and
Robotics.
He said MoIT is continuously working on new projects for
maximum economic impact through collaboration, digitization,
research and innovation in new emerging technologies within
the ICT and other socioeconomic sectors.
He said Telecom Policy and recently announced Digital Pakistan
Policy envisions us to become a strategic enabler for an
accelerated digitization ecosystem which propagates knowledge
based economy and spurs socio-economic growth.
The Minister said the government was also planning
for development of IT zones, software technology parks at
major cities, and to finance research & development activities,
entrepreneurship and innovation.
He appreciated efforts of PTA and APT to promote
regional harmony and knowledge exchange through platform of
SATRC and vowed to provide continuous patronage from government
for such efforts.
Dr. Khalid Maqbool said the government was also planning
development of IT zones, software technology parks in major cities.
Regarding on-going initiatives, he said, these include
Digi-Skills which is Pakistan’s largest online free training
programme to equip a million of people across the country with
digital skills over a period of two years. The ICT women is
another initiative under which thousands of girls are being
trained at state of the art computer labs under coaching and
training programme of Microsoft. It is expected to train over
1,10,000 girls per year and, as a part of this programme, 150
digital labs are being established throughout Pakistan at Women
Empowerment Centres.
He said, “The changes we have witnessed in recent years
and those we are currently witnessing, will surely not be the
last. We cannot be entirely sure what competition and
technology lies beyond horizon but with right approach, regional
cooperation and active participation, we can work together – sturdy
and resolute in face of challenges and make an impact.”
He said over next two days, there will be an opportunity to
share experiences and ideas to explore and address some of
key policy and regulatory issues in lCT today and to foster
spirit of collaboration, cooperation and harmonization.
On the occasion, Ms. Areewan Haorangsi, Secretary
General, Asia-Pacific Telecommunity said this event would
assist regulatory bodies of member countries in acquiring
knowledge and skills to address common challenges facing the
region.
In addition, it will also promote cooperation and
dialogue between regulators and industry to introduce best regional
and international practices in member countries.
Current Chairman of the SATRC and Chairman of Nepal
Telecommunication Authority, Digambar Jha said the discussions
and outcome of this meeting shall have significant impact on
telecommunication/ICT industry in South-Asian countries which
covers a large percentage of population of Asia-Pacific region.
The South Asian region has seen very rapid development
of telecommunication network and services. In this era of
telecommunication innovations, SATRC provides regular
capacity building opportunities for officers of member
countries.
Earlier, in his welcome remarks, Chairman PTA,
Muhammad Naveed said PTA has been an active member of the
SATRC and will continue to share its regulatory wisdom and
regulatory skills with regional regulators.
He said that the government of Pakistan has entrusted
us with task of providing state-of-the-art ICT services to
people.
While creating smarter communities, PTA ensures affordable
and broad-based communications access to the consumers.
Initiation of implementation of 5G policy directive
for taking broadband to maximum speed and issuance of third
party service provider’s license for increasing financial
inclusion are the major initiatives.
He said Device Identification Registration & Blocking
System (DIRBS) has been introduced for proper registration
of mobile handsets while online No Objection Certificate
(NoC) portal for import of handsets and online interactive
remote education initiative are some of other recent success stories
of PTA which will be shared with other regulators through
this meeting.
Similarly, PTA favours learning from experiences of APT
countries and to find solutions to common issues and areas of
common interest and collaborations.
This may be noted that SATRC conducts training programmes
and research activities with help of experts from
member countries of the Council. The Council meeting is an
annual meeting of Heads of member countries where SATRC Action
Plans are discussed and approved. The meeting is being
attended by delegates from different countries like
Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Iran, Maldives,
Nepal, Sri Lanka, and representatives from regional and
national telecom multi-national companies.