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coronavirus
Coronavirus
VERY HIGH
Source: covid.gov.pk
Pakistan Deaths
29,012
924hr
Pakistan Cases
1,324,147
4,02724hr
Sindh
499,830
Punjab
452,261
Balochistan
33,699
Islamabad
110,963
KPK
182,199

ISLAMABAD: A high-level committee headed by Finance Minister Dr Hafeez Shaikh has cleared phase-II of Pakistan-China Optical Fibre Cable (OFC) project for establishment of cross border OFC network (Khunjerab-Gwadar-Karachi) along CPEC routes at an approximate cost of Rs 38 billion but not under Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) mode due to strategic consideration.

Well informed sources told Business Recorder that the objectives of the project which were: (i) to provide alternate path for international connectivity through Northern border of Pakistan with China, (ii) to provide continuous and uninterrupted connectivity between Northern and southern borders of the country by establishing multiple rings for secure and uninterrupted communication; (iii) to provide alternate route from Rawalpindi to Gwadar and Karachi along CPEC for provision of backbone media and ICT facilities all along the trade corridor routes besides meeting communication requirements of security forces employed for protection of sensitive trade route; (iii) to provide linkage at Gwadar and Karachi with the international submarine optical fiber cable systems by establishing a Landing Station at Gwadar and Karachi, and (iv) to become international gateway route for the voice/data traffic by providing connectivity between China and Central Asian States with Middle East, Africa, Europe and beyond, also linking neighboring countries through direct connectivity. The envisaged network would transform Pakistan to becoming Digital Gateway Hub of regional connectivity by establishment of IPX (Carrier Exchange).

Ministry of Planning, Development and Special Initiatives apprised that an alternative path for international connectivity would be established as a result of this project. Thus ensuring continuous and uninterrupted communication globally.

Another main benefit would be that OFC will pass through those areas which are hitherto remote and unserved. Besides, it would facilitate in provision of high-speed broadband to the local population and thus gain access to tele-health, online education and other public and e-business services at their premises. The international transit internet traffic will also pass through this OFC, thus earning foreign exchange and contributing towards economic growth. This would also open up new business vistas and job opportunities in the country.

According to Ministry of Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Central Development Working Party (CDWP) had recommended it with certain directions on December 2, 2020.

The committee approved the project at a cost of Rs 37.916 billion including FEC of Rs 32.228 billion ($ 201.428 million) with the condition that the activities recommended by CDWP would be undertaken before the loan agreement is signed. The forum did not agree with the execution of the project under SPV mode due to strategic consideration.

The phase-I of OFC project was inaugurated on July 13, 2018. The project is 820 kms long Optical Fibre Cable link between Rawalpindi and Khunjerab Pass on Pakistan-China border.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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