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President calls for promotion of IT to meet country’s needs, serve world

President Dr Arif Alvi Monday while citing huge potential of young population, called for promotion of information technology and digital communication to meet country’s needs as well as strengthen the economy.

Addressing a virtually held inaugural session of 51st Asia Pacific Advanced Network organized by Higher Education Commission, the president said digital communication had always been vital but its importance had been multiplied during the COVID-19 era.

The president appreciated the HEC and other collaborating partners for holding the event attended by around 500 global participants and said the introduction and absorption of IT was inevitable for Pakistan as well as the world. He said Pakistan had adopted two-pronged approach by investing in human capital and technology as the country formulated a comprehensive liberalization policy in 2003 for telecommunication sector.

He said the HEC had also done a tremendous work for being responsible to give directions to the universities and colleges. He said effective communication and effective disbursement of knowledge to all repositories of knowledge had always been important but it had become more important today. The president recalled that even back in 2006, in his address in China, he had called for promotion of distance learning for being an easier and less expensive method of teaching.

The president said Pakistan had more than 300,000 English speaking IT professionals having no language barrier. There are 13 software technology parks for encouragement of IT investment with the government giving incentives in the sector. He said around 20,000 IT graduates and engineers entered the market every year and mentioned his initiative of artificial intelligence to train the youth in network area, blockchain technology, cyber security and other modern fields.

He said under the initiative, the government wanted to train the graduates and undergraduates in this field. He said the developed countries like Japan were willing to even absorb 100,000 well-trained IT experts. He said as the need for IT graduates was growing tremendously, the HEC was striving to ensure availability of open source knowledge to all graduates in IT and other sectors.

He said Pakistan was moving towards a digital economy and enabling the people to communicate and exchange knowledge would improve economy in many ways.

He said Pakistan had already achieved teledensity with around 176 million cell phone users in its total 220 million population. He said though the COVID had hurt the education sector it gave a boost to IT sector.

President Alvi said Pakistan was looking towards e-commerce, e-health, e-finance. He said Pakistan had been able to manage the COVID pandemic situation by ensuring a balance between the lives and livelihood.

President Alvi said unlike other countries in the region, Pakistan allowed business activity to avert the hunger related deaths. He said the ICT exports were growing by 30 percent annually since last five years and freelancing also witnessed 47pc growth. He said Pakistan stood at fourth in freelancing.

He said the government has a plan to launch 5G technology in 2022 that would set a new chapter in ICT-based socio economic transformation of Pakistan.

Regarding the freelancing revenue, Pakistan stood at 47 pc this year and fourth in freelance development, he added. This shows Pakistan was ready to service the world needing the freelancing software, he added.

The president said Pakistan had 60 percent of its 220 population between 15 to 29 age group and if trained in IT, they could serve the countries and companies in the world. He said HEC was doing tremendous work for promotion of IT education and digital communication by making 60,000 books and journals available online and establishing smart classrooms.