ISLAMABAD - A five-member delegation, led by Ambassador of Sweden Tomas Rosander, called on Minister of State for IT& Telecom Anusha Rahman here in Islamabad Wednesday. Federal Secretary IT Rizwan Bashir Khan and Member Legal Aamena Sohail were also present in the meeting.

Various issues of mutual interest and promotion of bilateral cooperation in the arena of IT& telecom were discussed in the meeting. Minister apprised the ambassador regarding key initiatives being taken by the Ministry of IT for ubiquitous sectoral development. She stated that we have laid down a telecommunication highway and continuously working to widen it throughout the country.

Minister apprised the delegation that there was a phenomenal increase in the number of subscribers after 3G/4G in the country and broadband penetration which was less than 3% has crossed 18% within the shortest span of time.

The delegation shared their country’s experiences with the minister regarding mobile banking, conducive enabling environment and financial inclusions and expressed their desire to enhance cooperation with Pakistan in this regard.

Anusha Rahman informed the delegates that we have given a comprehensive telecom policy document in 2015 which addresses all the challenges pertaining to telecom sector including financial and social inclusion. We believe that for appropriate implementation of financial inclusion it’s indispensible to concentrate on “accessibility and affordability” elements simultaneously. To ensure accessibility we are connecting the unconnected and bridging the digital divide vis-à-vis to ensure affordability, we are concentrating on local manufacturing of mobile handsets and availability at low cost. Therefore, a big international company like “Ericson” which is already doing well in Pakistan has an opportunity to invest in local manufacturing business and could get benefits of a cheap labor and a lucrative market of some 200 million population with 60% youngsters.

Anusha Rehman also informed the delegates that financial inclusion is a part of our priority agenda and a committee comprising of all stakeholders i.e. State Bank, Ministry of Commerce has already been constituted under the chairmanship of the Finance Minister and working on the subject of financial inclusion. She asked the “Ericson Company’s representatives to bring their proposals to our ICT R&D Fund so that we could further explore the areas of mutual cooperation and collaboration.

The Swedish Ambassador, while appreciating the forward looking steps being taken by the government of Pakistan and Ministry of IT for the development of IT& Telecom sector, assured their utmost cooperation for enhancing bilateral engagement in IT & Telecom spheres, between both the countries.