Pakistan, China likely to sign MoU for cooperation in ICT

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and China may expand bilateral cooperation in the field of information and communication technology (ICT) in the near future as the federal cabinet is likely to give a go-ahead for this partnership.

According to sources, the federal cabinet in its Tuesday meeting is likely to approve a proposed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and it’s signing between Ministry of Industry and IT of China and the Ministry of IT and Telecommunication (MoIT&T) of Pakistan.

The IT minister has already seen and authorized the submission of a summary regarding the MoU to the cabinet in order to accomplish the vision of Prime Minister Imran Khan on promotion and advancement of ICT.

Sources said that Chinese Embassy had already shared a draft MoU with Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA), which then shared the draft MoU with MoIT&T and intimated that the Chinese side has proposed to sign it.

The draft MoU was viewed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Law and Justice and, so far, the MoFA has communicated no objection on signing of MoU while the ministry of law has vetted the draft from its legal point of view.

The proposed bilateral cooperation framework between China and Pakistan in the ICT sector entails several objectives, including cohesive engagement in the development for regional infrastructure including but not limited to a network of regional terrestrial connectivity, the establishment of internet exchange points, the development of nationwide public and government cloud centres, the development of smart infrastructure using 5G and IoT technologies, and collaboration in the development of state of the art centre of excellence (COE) based on technologies identified as part of the 4th Industrial Revolution such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Blockchain, 5G, Robotics, cloud technologies and nanotechnologies.

According to objectives of proposed bilateral cooperation framework between China & Pakistan in the ICT sector, The CoE may be used for the transfer of technologies through integration with similar CoEs in China, with a profound focus on developing demand-driven systems and solutions for market penetration of indigenously developed products, and possible establishment of testbeds on IoTs, 5G and 3D printing technologies. 

Likewise, Pakistan and China may consider collaborating for providing access to funds/grants allocated for supporting international/regional high-end technology research and innovation under Belt & Road initiative or any other related program(s). 

The two countries may provide information and access to angel investors, private equities and venture capital funds for participating in the development of the local startup ecosystem and for identifying common civic problems of the real world that need to be addressed by mutually supporting initiatives (public/private startups, incubation centres, government programs)  offering rectification after their association with sustainable development. 

The objectives of said bilateral cooperation framework between China & Pakistan in ICT sector also entail a partnership in the development of skilled human capital based on latest tools and technologies in emerging technologies related to the possible development of high-tech laboratories in major cities of Pakistan on cloud technologies, supercomputing, routing, switching, IoTs and etc. 

They also want to work towards the establishment of Chinese Learning Centers nationwide and online campuses and the creation of Pak-China ICT Education Scholarship program for undergraduate, postgraduate and doctoral curriculums through leading educational institutions of China to provide financial support to ongoing and or upcoming high impact human capital development program on ICTs. 

The objectives also include the development of a network of national ICT University in Karachi through the virtual university of Pakistan.

As per objectives of proposed bilateral cooperation framework between China & Pakistan in the ICT sector, it was proposed that there will cooperation in the field of ICT consumer devices manufacturing and associated infrastructure development for competitive manufacturing/production of ICT goods in Pakistan in partnership with China.

For this purpose, a feasibility study will be conducted on the existing establishment and or new facility (ies) for smartphone and IoT devices manufacturing in Pakistan. 

The two countries also want to work towards the possible establishment of chip/processor design centres and fabrication laboratories in Pakistan based on latest tools and technologies and possible assistance in the development of ICT manufacturing zone/s in a coastal city(ies) of Pakistan which invite Chinese conglomerates to establish regional technology support centre(s) on a competitive basis. 

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Ahmad Ahmadani
Ahmad Ahmadani
The author is a an investigative journalist at Profit. He can be reached at [email protected].
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