The Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication has approached the Ministry of Planning Development & Reforms to promote IT cooperation between China and Pakistan under the China Pakistan Economic Corridor- CPEC framework.
Shoaib Ahmad Siddiqui, Federal Secretary said that:
“IT was the 7th pillar of long term CPEC framework and the IT Ministry has written a letter to the Ministry of Planning, Development & Reforms for its formal activation”
Siddiqui further said that the proposed ICT sector development under the CPEC framework is comprised on artificial intelligence (AI), cloud computing, robotics, emerging technology, automation, e-governance and manufacturing plants as well as technology parks.
ICT sector development under the CPEC Framework is comprised on Artificial Intelligence
He further said that cooperation in this sector under CPEC framework would help in attracting investment, creation of hundreds of jobs opportunities, automation as well as cost-saving. He said that the Ministry of Planning, Development and Reforms has been formally asked for arranging a meeting with Chinese counterparts to move forward on the 7th pillar of the long term plan.
Chinese government initiated over $60 billion worth of infrastructure development projects under the CPEC framework. Most of the projects pertain to energy and road sectors. While the first stage of CPEC has almost completed, the next stage focuses on industrial developments.
Pakistan is a fast-growing telecom market with subscribers of mobile phones has crossed the 161 million mark compared with the country’s population of around 210 million. Of total subscribers, around 70 million use 3G/4G. There are 71 million broadband subscribers. The country imports millions of dollars of mobile phones to meet the local requirements with manufacturing and assembling of handheld devices not present in the country.
The government has dropped the Telephone Industry of Pakistan (TIP) from the privatization list and mulling to establish mobile phone handsets plant in collaboration with the private sector for its revival. The government is engaged with a different Chinese company for establishing a mobile handset manufacturing plant in Haripur.
The move would help in reducing the country’s import bill, create jobs and save huge foreign exchange reserves. The ministry envisages exploring new business models for future projects and joint ventures in the country. The further Chinese government can contribute to the e-governance initiative as well in centralizing data to improve efficiency and productivity.
According to the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), the information technology sector fetched $1.6 million Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in July 2019. The overall communications sector comprising (telecommunication, information technology and postal & courier services) registered $7.8 million net FDI with $24 million inflow and $16.2 million outflow during July 2019.
Net FDI in software development remained at $0.3 million, with $0.7 million inflow and 0.4 million outflows. Hardware development received no FDI during this period.
According to Secretary MoITT, the investment in the IT and telecom sector would increase manifold with the inclusion of this sector into CPEC framework.