2005 Rawalpindi, January, 13
President General Pervez Musharraf said Thursday the arrival of more companies in the long distance international and wireless local loop sectors will bring about a telecommunication boom, step up economic activity, reduce poverty and help bridge the digital divide between the urban and rural areas.
Addressing a Telecommunication Deregulation Ceremony, the President stated that the future of telecom sector in Pakistan holds out bright prospects for both the investors and the people. “Our policies, in the last five years, have put the sector on the fast- paced development track as all investors now have a fair and level-playing field with no monopolies. “And today’s award of licenses marks a step towards realizing the tremendous potential that information technology and telecommunications offer to entrepreneurs, who have lucrative opportunities and an enabling and transparent environment to prosper”, he said.
The gathering included telecom officials and executives of local national and international companies who were recently awarded licenses for long distance international and wireless local loop operations by Pakistan Telecommunication Authority. The President expressed the hope that the increased economic activity will benefit the people in both rural and urban areas in the form of better economic opportunities. With the availability of wireless technology, the farmers will have an effective access to the market for their produce. “Thus both agricultural and industrial sectors are to gain from the telecom boom”.
President Musharraf said, the deregulation of the sector has encouraged the entry of more companies in the field, who are investing millions of dollars. He expressed the hope that the new companies will start operating fast, ensuring good quality and low costs. “I hope there will be a healthy competition among the wireless local loops and the mobile phone companies”, he added.
The President said that the Pakistan Telecommunication Corporation Limited (PTCL) will be privatized, saying that the Government will ensure that the monopoly does not pass from public to private sector. Referring to the steps taken for the promotion of IT and telecom sectors, the President said his government adopted the bold policy of broadening the base through reduction of costs and by ending monopolies. “That saw the spread of internet connectivity from mere 29 places to over 1800 cities and towns across the country-bandwidth rates were lowered from costly 18000 to 2000 US dollars and fiber optic connectivity increased -resultantly, tele-density has risen from low 2.9 per cent to eight per cent. He said the mobile phone growth has seen their users increasing from 0.35 million to over eight million.
The President observed that an important feature of the telecom development is that small and medium companies are coming forward because of the level-playing regime evolved by the Government. “This would ensure that the wealth is distributed to a wider section and is not concentrated in a few hands-this will definitely benefit more entrepreneurs and help generate employment for more people”. The President also pinpointed the vast human potential of the country, saying Pakistan has many IT qualified people.
He commended the efforts made by Minister for Information Technology Awais Ahmed Leghari and Pakistan Telecom Authority Chairman Maj Gen (Retd) Shahzada Alam in the development and growth of these sectors. Awais Leghari informed the gathering that the policies introduced by the President are a driving force behind the IT boom in the country. He assured the investors that the Government would continue to facilitate them in expanding their business in the future. The PTA Chairman, speaking on the occasion, said the Authority has awarded the licenses to companies through a fair and transparent process.