Mahmood & Shafique -Part 4
Information technology policy
The Government of Pakistan approved the first national IT Policy in August 2000. Features of the policy regarding the role of IT in development cover such aspects as:
- Include a compulsory, modern and up-to-date computer literacy module in the matriculation curriculum for high schools.
- Launch a scheme for providing low-priced computers and Internet connectivity to universities, colleges and schools through a public-private sector initiative.
- Remove barriers to the induction of new technologies (e.g., WLL) by the private sector to ensure the spread of communications to under-served and un-served areas of Pakistan.
- Encourage telecommunication companies and carrier network service providers to develop and upgrade rural telecommunications facilities. The Government is fully committed to the universal service obligation principle and a mechanism for provision thereof has been provided in the telecom sector policy.
- A number of international satellite operators have already begun to provide high-speed Internet access. These services should be encouraged to overcome bandwidth limitations, not only in urban areas but also in the rural and suburban areas, for basic Internet connectivity.<
- Develop new ways to use IT to help solve the most pressing problems of human and economic development/education, health, poverty alleviation, rural development, and care for the environment.
- Eliminate all import duties on computer equipment and accessories. (Pakistan. Ministry of Science & Technology. IT and Telecommunications Division, 2000)
Pakistan's telecom sector has emerged as the fastest growing sector across Asia in recent years. Realizing the benefits achieved from telecom deregulation around the world, Pakistan has moved from a monopolized structure to a deregulated one. The monopoly of the Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL) for basic telephony has been abolished and new operators have emerged on Pakistan's telecom scene where competition has been introduced. Competition in all segments of the telecom sector has brought in lower tariffs and cheaper handsets, which saw the Pakistani people jumping on to the mobile bandwagon with a vengeance. In fact, all performance indicators of the telecom sector have shown tremendous levels of growth. Foreign investment in the telecom sector has passed US$1 billion during the first three quarters of 2005-06. These growth patterns in the telecom sector of Pakistan compare well to those of many South Asian economies (Sargana, 2006).