Pakistan plans to commercially introduce the most advanced 5G internet by December 2022, which would be a significant move towards realising the digital Pakistan vision of Prime Minister Imran Khan, Federal IT & Telecommunications Minister Syed Aminul Haque said on Thursday.
By the time its elected five-year term ends in 2023, the government has set the goal of growing IT exports to $5 billion, as the country is advancing rapidly in the fields of information technology (IT), artificial intelligence (AI) and working to provide uninterrupted connectivity across the advanced internet nationwide, Haque said while speaking at the Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX).
In the presence of the Minister, PSX signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Pakistan Software Export Board (PSEB) to link itself to play a pivotal role in ensuring the country’s sustainable IT industry development.
“PSEB is aimed at getting some 40 technology companies listed on the Pakistan Stock Exchange (to make the shares of tech companies available for trade),” said Osman Nasir, Managing Director of PSEB.
“Farrukh H Khan, PSX CEO, said, “The listing will help tech companies raise investment for their ongoing and potential ventures. “The stock market has set up a Growth Enterprise Market (GEM) Board… to provide an ideal opportunity to raise capital and expand their business horizon for small to medium-sized growth companies such as IT companies and tech start-ups.”
Haque said the PSX CEO correctly pointed out that there are individuals – particularly senior citizens between the ages of 50 and 60 – who have significant funds to invest in lucrative projects in Pakistan. There are youths, on the other hand, who lack resources but have brilliant minds and business ideas to introduce. “In order to help the performance of the economy and to improve the nation, we need to link them (senior citizens and young people),” he said.
He said that by December 2022, his ministry was in contact with stakeholders, including proving cell phone service providers, to commercially launch 5G internet. “We will offer them (mobile companies) more bandwidth spectrum, including 5G, at the best price possible in the future,” he said.
The government is working these days to sell mobile businesses extra spectrum on 3G/4G. In this regard, the committee set up for this reason will submit its report in the fourth week of March. In addition, a foreign consultant has already been employed by the government for the reason.
In addition, Finance Minister Hafeez Shaikh heads the committee charged with addressing concerns over the renewal price for the latest 3G/4G spectrum between the government and a few cell phone firms. The committee has recently organised two to three stakeholder meetings, he said.
He said Covid-19 has proven to be a blessing for the IT industry in disguise. “In the first six months (Jul-Dec 2020/during the Covid-19 pandemic) of the currency fiscal year 2021, the country’s IT exports increased by 40 percent to $958 million compared to around $684 million in the same period of the last fiscal year,” he said.
He said the government is focusing on enhancing mobile internet access. In Sindh it has improved, but in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) and Balochistan it has remained weak. “We have spent almost Rs29 million nationwide on improving connectivity,” he said.
He noticed a rise of 1.4 million per month in telephone and internet usage. Improving connectivity will benefit sectors such as e-commerce, agriculture and education and almost the entire economy as a whole,” he said.” Nasir said they expect exports worth $1.9-2 billion this year from the IT industry. The export proceeds will be in addition to the $4-5 billion that, for various reasons, many exporters do not carry into the country,” he said while answering the question.”
PSX Chairman Sulaiman S Mehdi has suggested that the government set up a fund to support the country’s IT industry, especially start-ups. He told IT businesses that they will provide full assistance and help in raising capital for future growth via the stock market.
Khan added that small to medium-sized businesses make up a significant chunk of Pakistan’s business enterprises. Nearly 90 per cent of all companies in Pakistan are SMEs. They contribute around 40% of the annual GDP and employ about 80% of the non-agricultural workforce. In the economy of a nation, rising enterprises play a major role. They provide a significant number of jobs and contribute substantially to a country’s GDP.