Main Theme – Asia-Pacific: Smartly Digital [Digital Inclusive Green Innovative Transformative Affordable Living]
Madam Prime Minister,
Secretary General of the ITU,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is an honor for me to address this eminent gathering of leaders of the Asia - Pacific Region, high level dignitaries, and professionals of Telecom Industry to share my thoughts on our future cooperation in this sector.
The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) has convened the ITU Connect Asia Pacific Summit 2013 in Bangkok, with the help of the Government of Thailand. I would like to thank, in particular, Her Excellency, Ms. Yingluck Shinawatra for the warm hospitality extended to us and for her unwavering support to the organizers of this event. I express my deep gratitude to her for her initiative and personal indulgence for the success of this event.
Pakistan is proud of its longstanding association with the ITU and the work that we have collectively done to promote the mandate of this specialized organization of the United Nations. Since its creation, the ITU has played a vital role in promoting dialogue and developing consensus on critical issues concerning the development of telecommunications and information technologies across the globe.
Through its “Connect the World” initiative, the ITU is sharing best practices and successful outcomes pertaining to the sector across national boundaries. Deliberations at such forums facilitate formulation of effective strategies that ultimately result in providing critically important services and benefits to people across the world.
The Asia-Pacific Region is home to some of the largest and most prosperous economies of the world. This region contributes 40 percent of the world’s GDP growth and this is set to grow further. A well-connected ICT and telecommunications infrastructure is one of the major factors contributing to the development of these economies. Our region also has global leaders in the development of E-services and ER09;applications. The region is also spearheading technology standardization and equipment manufacturing.
The Government of Pakistan is committed to accelerated digitization of the country to enable socio-economic development, creating a knowledge based economy and promoting economic growth. My government accords the highest priority to development of ICT infrastructure and applications for the provision of quality services, education, employment generation, and women empowerment.
Pakistan telecom infrastructure now comprises over 125 million mobile connections, about 3 million fixed lines, 3 million WLL subscribers, 19.8 million internet users, 15.7 million mobile internet users and 2.8 million broadband subscribers. The nation now has a sophisticated telecom network providing voice and data services across the length and breadth of the country. We have come far but we are fully committed to going further.
The Government of Pakistan through Universal Service Fund Company, National ICT R&D Fund Company and Virtual University, has initiated a range of successful programs to promote ICT opportunities to achieve these goals. Some of these programs are models and are being replicated by other countries. In fact, improved access to information and knowledge, education and delivery of public service through state of the art ICT facilities has greatly helped in promoting growth and minimizing poverty in Pakistan.
With a population of 180 million, Pakistan is strategically located on the crossroads of South & Central Asia and the energy-rich Middle East, providing a unique platform for investors eyeing opportunities in the country and the region at large. Pakistan offers 100% equity ownership, full repatriation of capital and dividends and income tax exemption on IT exports until 2016.
The ready availability of skilled professionals, a comprehensive ICT infrastructure, coupled with affordable rates for connectivity and the Government’s business-friendly investment policies, makes Pakistan an exceptional destination for foreign investors in the ICT sector. The Government of Pakistan encourages foreign investment in the upcoming spectrum auction for next generation mobile services, establishment of Technology Parks and local manufacturing of ICT equipment. We invite foreign companies to be our partners in harnessing the rich potential of our country that is open for business and keen on working with international investors.
Pakistan will continue to support initiatives that will help ITU member states in this region to narrow down the ICT application gap between communities and to improve living standards. I would like to invite leading business houses to invest in Pakistan, where the government is fully committed to give protection to investment and facilitate them in establishing a business infrastructure. My cabinet colleagues and I are available to discuss such business opportunities.
I would like to conclude by congratulating the International Telecommunications Union for building a network of cooperation among regional states. I would like to again thank the hosts and organizers of Connect Asia Pacific Summit for such elaborate and seamless arrangements.
Excellency Madam Prime Minister, I am personally grateful to your government for such warm hospitality to me and members of my delegation.
I Thank you Ladies and Gentlemen.