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KARACHI: Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah has said that access to information and e-suite services —— including healthcare, e-finance, e-agriculture, and e-education —— is vital when it comes to enabling the rural and remote communities of the country to compete better with the more developed ones and to contribute to economic development of the country.

This he said on Thursday while speaking at a ceremony at which a contract was signed between the Universal Service Fund (USF) and Pakistan Telecommunication Company Ltd (PTCL) for laying an Optic Fibre Cable (OFC) in Dadu, Jamshoro, Badin, Hyderabad, Larkana and Qambar-Shahdadkot districts.

The event organised by the Ministry of IT and Telecommunication was also attended by federal Minister for IT and Telecommunication Syed Aminul Haq, Chief Secretary Sohail Rajput, Additional Secretary IT Mohsin Mushtaq, President and Group CEO of PTCL and Ufone Hatem Bamatra and consul generals of different countries.

The chief minister said that to overcome the numerous challenges faced by the country and in line with the vision of ‘Digital Pakistan’, the federal IT&T ministry through the USF had been running diverse projects which are playing a huge role in the socio-economic development of the people. As digitalisation has become a priority area for businesses and communities, the ministry of IT&T through USF aims to connect all the citizens of Pakistan, Mr Shah said.

He said that under its Next Generation Optic Fibre (NG-OF) Network and Services programme, the USF has contracted over 16,000 kilometres of OFC to benefit 31.5 million people. By providing access to information and e-suite services the ministry of IT&T is enabling the rural and remote communities of the country to not only fare better, but also to support national economic development and contribute to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

The ministry, he said, was awarding contracts for three more projects that would achieve the objective of providing access and connectivity to the rural and remote communities of Sindh as well as provide a digital highway for seamless broadband coverage to the people living in Dadu, Jamshoro, Badin, Hyderabad, Larkana and Qambar-Shahdadkot districts.

This initiative launched at a cost of Rs 5 billion would benefit a population of approximately 4.2 million people living across 207 un-served Union Councils and Towns, Mr Shah said. The projects have been designed to connect 686 educational institutions, 212 health facilities, 276 government offices and 1,367 telecom towers within a 5-km radius of the node.

Earlier, federal Minister for IT&T Syed Aminul Haq highlighted what he termed “achievements of his ministry” and vowed to increase the export of IT sector from $2.5 billion to $3 billion.

The contract was signed by Hatem Bamatraf on behalf of the PTCL and Harris Mahmood on behalf of the USF.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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