The Universal Service Fund (USF) has awarded a contract worth approximately Rs. 2.07 billion to Ufone for the provision of High-Speed Mobile Broadband services in Kech District of Balochistan.
The Federal Minister for Information Technology (IT) and Telecommunication, Syed Amin Ul Haque, and the Federal Minister for Defense Production, Zubaida Jalal, attended the contract signing ceremony at the USF office on Friday.
The contract was signed by the CEO of the USF, Haaris Mahmood Chaudhary, and the Acting CEO & Group Chief Financial Officer of Ufone, Nadeem Khan. The Federal Secretary for IT and Telecommunication, Shoaib Ahmad Siddiqui, the Chairman of the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), Maj. Gen (R) Amir Azeem Bajwa also the ceremony. The Sector Commander South, Brigadier Atif Bin Saeed, and senior government officials from Turbat attended the ceremony online.
Minister Syed Amin Ul Haque, who was also the Chief Guest of the ceremony, said, “In light of the Prime Minister’s vision of Digital Pakistan, the Ministry of IT and Telecommunication, through USF, has awarded yet another project for the socio-economic betterment of the people of Balochistan”.
He remarked, “Through the contract being awarded today, the residents of Kech district will reap the benefits of High-Speed Internet in a span of 12-18 months. It is our priority to ensure that Balochistan remains at the forefront of technology development as we continue to work towards building a robust Digital Pakistan”.
“The digital connectivity will open unprecedented new possibilities for the marginalized communities of Kech district; enhancing their ability to work and transact online and engage in the digital economy. I would pay my special gratitude to the Federal Minister of Defense Production, Zubaida Jalal who has played a significant role in highlighting the region for digital transformation and emphasizing on the importance of digital inclusion for the growth and prosperity of the youth,” the minister added.
Through the USF, the Ministry of IT and Telecommunication has contracted various development projects worth approximately Rs. 7 billion to provide High-Speed Mobile Broadband services in the districts of Chagai, Noshki, Bolan, Mastung, Panjgur, Gwadar, Ziarat, Jaffarabad, and Pishin.
These projects are expected to be completed within 12 to 18 months from the date of commencement.
The minister also said, “Today, in this regard, it is pertinent to highlight the progress of the National Highways program. The Ministry of IT and Telecommunication through USF has initiated development projects worth approximately Rs. 1.8 billion to provide High-Speed Mobile Broadband services to commuters on all National Highways in Balochistan, thereby covering a road segment of 1,780 km. NH 10 and NH 25 is 75 percent completed, whereas NH 50 and NH 70 are 50 percent completed. Likewise, NH 25 and NH 65 are 25 percent completed. All the National Highway projects will be completed within the next six to nine months”.
The youth of Balochistan are benefiting from the DG Skills and the Virtual University’s education programs. So far, 25,000 youngsters have completed free licensing courses through DG Skills. Similarly, offline centers have been established in nine districts through the Virtual University programs, whereby thousands of students can now access educational courses without internet service. Minister Amin Ul Haque stated that 3,500 students from Balochistan will be provided a six-month-long paid internship with a monthly stipend of Rs. 20,000.
Additionally, four new software technology parks are being established in Quetta, Khuzdar, Turbat, and Gwadar where, in lieu of rent, the government will provide a 25 percent subsidy and other facilities. Other than this, new national incubation center campuses will be opened, and new projects for the youth in research and development will be initiated with the help of Ignite.
Syed Amin Ul Haque stated that the people of Balochistan should not be disappointed as the concerned departments are working very hard for the development of the province. He added that Prime Minister Imran Khan is very clear in his vision that there can be no national progress without progress in Balochistan.
He disclosed that this is why it was upon his instructions that the Federal Secretary for IT and Telecommunication, Shoaib Ahmad Siddiqui, and all the attached departments working under his ministry had taken a tour of Quetta and apprised the Government of Balochistan regarding its development projects.
While addressing the ceremony, Minister Zubaida Jalal, thanked the Federal Minister Amin Ul Haque and said that the Ministry of IT and Telecommunication’s development projects for the people of Balochistan are in line with the true spirit of Digital Pakistan and will play an important role in alleviating the marginalization of Balochistan and supporting it to come on par with the developed world.
She remarked that she is sure that the development projects in Kech will be completed in time, and assured that the youth from these areas will be as capable as the youth from the urban cities in terms of skills, capabilities, and digital proficiency.
Sharing his thoughts at the ceremony, the CEO of the USF, Haaris Mahmood Chaudhary said, “This project will benefit an unserved population of 0.34 million, thereby covering an unserved area of 23,964 sq. km. of Kech District. Upon the directive of the Federal Minister for IT and Telecommunication, our focus on providing access and connectivity to the remote and far-flung areas of the country remains distinguished”.
He added, “In the last two years, the USF has contracts projects worth over Rs. 21 billion. This project has been awarded to Ufone through an efficient and transparent competitive bidding process. We strive to empower the people of Balochistan and bring ease into their lives through these projects”.
Speaking at the ceremony, the Group CFO and Acting CEO PTCL & Ufone, Nadeem Khan, said, “Ufone is dedicated to the cause of a Digital Pakistan. Our telecommunications projects in Balochistan are an attempt to make lives easier for the millions that are residing in the province. Through this project in the Kech district of Balochistan, we aim to provide telecom services to 306 muazas of the area”.
He remarked that “This dream would have never reached fruition without the support of the USF which has been devoted to the cause of providing connectivity in the far-flung areas of Pakistan”.
The senior officials of the Ministry of IT and Telecommunication, the USF, and Ufone were also present at the ceremony.
Source: Pro Pakistani