BANGKOK: Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif on Monday invited foreign investment in the upcoming spectrum auction for next generation mobile services and establishment of technology parks.
“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,” the Prime Minister said in his key-note address at the Connect Asia Pacific Summit 2013, which
began in Bangkok on Monday morning.
Prime Minister Sharif said the Government of Pakistan was committed to accelerated digitization of the country to enable socio-economic development, creating a knowledge-based economy and promoting economic growth.
He said Pakistan accorded the highest priority to development of information communication technology (ICT) for the provision of quality services, education, employment, generation and women empowerment.
Nawaz Sharif said the Pakistan Telecom infrastructure comprised over 125 million mobile connections, about three million fixed lines, three million WLL subscribers, 19.8 million internet users, 15.7 million mobile internet users, and 2.8 million broadband
He said the government through Universal Service Fund Company, national ICT R&D Fund Company and Virtual University had initiated a range of successful programmes to promote ICT opportunities to achieve these goals. He said some of these programmes were models and were being replicated by other countries.
The Prime Minister said with the population of 180 million, Pakistan was strategically located on the crossroads of south and central Asia and energy-rich Middle East.
He said Pakistan offered 100 per cent equity ownership, full repatriation of capital and dividends and income tax exemption on IT exports until 2016.
He said the ready availability of skilled professionals, a comprehensive ICT infrastructure, coupled with affordable rates for connectivity and the government’s business-friendly investment policies, made Pakistan an exceptional destination for foreign investors in the ICT sector.
Nawaz Sharif said Pakistan was proud of its longstanding association with the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and the work that had been collectively done to promote the mandate of this specialized organization of the United Nations.
He said since its creation, the ITU had played a vital role in promoting dialogue and developing consensus on critical issues concerning the development of telecommunications and information technologies across the globe.
He lauded that through its ‘Connect the World’ initiative, the ITU was sharing the best practices and successful outcomes pertaining to the sector across national boundaries.
He said deliberations at such forums facilitated formulation of effective strategies that ultimately result in providing critically important services and benefits to people across the world.
Nawaz Sharif said the Asia-Pacific region was home to some of the largest and most prosperous economies of the world and contributed 40 per cent of the world’s GDP growth, which was set to grow further.
He said a well-connected ICT and telecommunications infrastructure was one of the major factors contributing to the development of these economies.
He mentioned that the region also had global leaders in the development of e-services and e-applications and was also spearheading technology standardization and equipment manufacturing.
Earlier, addressing the summit, Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said the summit was being held to achieve a common goal to develop better and wider links between
nations and peoples.
She said the ICT had progressed by expanding to cover other utilities, appliances in household and databases around the world and “we need to ensure that people of all nations have greater access to it.”
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said the Asia-Pacific was a vast and diverse region, which had numerous centers of innovation in manufacturing and information and communication technologies.
He said several nations in the region had experienced rapid economic growth yet there was a stark contrast in prosperity and development between high income countries and the least developed.