PARIS - Minister for IT Anusha Rahman on Saturday said that the government, under the visionary leadership of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, had accorded highest priority to the development of ICT infrastructure and applications to accelerate digitization in the country.

Addressing at UNESCO’s Mobile Learning Week in Paris, Anusha said, “ICT is the key driver of socio-economic development.”

She said, “With the launch of 3G/4G, the internet penetration in the country upped from 3 percent to over 15 percent in a short space of one year.

Recently the government has issued a long awaited Telecom Policy, marked as landmark document by the industry experts for the incorporation of numerous measures to accelerate digitization in the country.”

The IT minister added one of the potential business cases of the ICT industry was to use the mobile technology as a vehicle to help bring high quality learning to people who did not have access to it.

“This can lead to the strategies, which can ensure that widely owned mobile devices facilitate the learning of groups that are underserved educationally, including economically disadvantaged families, women and girls, people with disabilities and people living in rural areas,” Anusha elaborated.

She listed the government’s measures which it took to use the technology for the socio-economic uplift and development through public private partnership.

“ICT for Girls project is one such step, under which thousands of girls will be trained by Microsoft on coding and computing to increase their employability credentials,” she informed.

She further said that another project, with the partnership of Cisco and Microsoft, was in process, where the young children from the public schools of ICT region would be trained in practical IT education. Reiterating her government’s vision of providing affordable and accessible ICT services to the masses, she said billions of rupees were being spent on providing telecom and broadband services to the underdeveloped areas of the country.

The minister emphasised the focus should be to define the characteristics of a high-quality mobile learning content and models, which will increase production and wide dissemination of this content.

“Through mutual collaboration with the stakeholders of education and ICT sectors of the country, we can develop mobile technologies,” Anusha said, and added that since many educators were not effectively trained to teach, another possible use of the ICT could be the development of mobile technologies that could help teachers and make instruction more effective.

She emphasised the need for sharing the experiences of member countries on more frequent basis to learn and find the best solutions.

The minister also called on UNESCO Director General Ms Irina Bokova, with whom she shared her vision for the IT and the steps taken by the current government to spur the socio-economic development through ICT.

The UNESCO DG appreciated the efforts of the government and termed them as highly impressive.

Both also decided to increase cooperation in the IT sector. On the sidelines of the event, Anusha interacted with the Minister of Albania Elsalvador and ITU Director Brahma Sanou.