ISLAMABAD: The Ministry of Information Technology (IT) and Telecommunications released its two-year performance report on Saturday which showed that the number of IT companies in Pakistan increased by 592 to 2,354 by the end of June 2020, as compared to 1,762 IT companies as of June 2018.
The performance report further said that the IT and IT enabled Services (ITeS) export remittances comprising computer services and call centers were expected to reach $1.2 billion by the end of FY 2019-20, as compared to $831.35 million achieved in FY 2018-19.
The report outlined the initiatives taken by the IT ministry for the realisation of the telecommunication objectives in the past two years which include National Incubation Centers (NIC) Programmes, National ICT Grassroots Initiative, DigiSkills.pk, SEED Funded Projects, Universal Service Fund (USF) Projects, Special Communication Organisation (SCO) Contributions, Technology Park Islamabad, and the Telecom Foundation.
The NIC programmes offer budding entrepreneurs guidance from mentors along with rent free office space, high speed broadband internet, fintech labs, design thinking labs, Artificial Intelligence Research and Development (R&D) centers and other related facilities.
During the past two years, NICs have created 16,174 jobs, according to the data provided by the IT ministry.
Likewise the Grassroots Initiative of the IT ministry provides financial assistance to final year undergraduate students of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) related disciplines. The project was launched on January 6, 2020 and within 40 days 2,832 applications were received out of which 1,040 applications received funding in the first half of FY 2020-21, the report said.
According to the performance report, the DigiSkills programme of the ministry has imparted more than 1.28 million trainings since August 2018 against the initial target of one million trainings.
The report further said that SEED Funded Projects of the ministry spanned across several disciplines and fields and included startups like Pakistan’s first peritoneal kidney dialysis machine, a 5G Air-Interface testbed, blockchain implementation in the financial sector, augmented reality based advertising and applications like Bakhabar Kissan.
The ministry also said that three cellular mobile operators licenses – for Jazz, Zong and Telenor – were up for renewal by Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) in 2019, and the policy directive for the same was issued on May 9, 2019, after extensive consultation and approval by the committees formed by the prime minister. Partial payment of $687.8 million (50 per cent) was deposited by the telecom operators, the report informed.
The proposed projects by the IT ministry for the future include Right of Way (ROW) Policy Directive, Personal Data Protection Bill and Policy Directive for Satellite Services in Pakistan.
The ministry said that the satellite services project has the potential to raise $600 to $700 million for the National Space Programme till 2030 in addition to indirect benefits related to the advancement of indigenous space technology.
Other planned projects of the IT ministry include Spectrum Auction for which the process has been initiated, and an incentive package has been proposed by the ministry which also includes a policy for smartphone manufacturing.