ISLAMABAD - Universal Service Fund (USF) has signed contracts worth Rs3.72 billion with Ufone for provision of mobile broadband internet/3G services in Khuzdar and Chagai areas in Balochistan.

In this connection, the signing ceremony was held at Ministry of IT and Telecom. Federal Minister for Finance Muhammad Ishaq Dar was the chief guest at the occasion and he was accompanied by Minister for IT & Telecom, Anusha Rahman. Faisal Sattar, CEO USF, Rainer Rathgeber, President and CEO-Ufone, signed the contracts.

A memorandum of understanding (MoU) signing between USF and NTC was also held at the event with regards to establishment of telecentres. Telecenters will be providing e-services, distance learning and create employment opportunities, among various other benefits like bridging the digital divide.

Finance minister congratulated Universal Services Fund, Ufone and NTC for signing the agreements. He appreciated the private sector for coming forward and joining hands with government. The minister said that financial and technical inclusion of the deprived and poor areas of Pakistan is government’s policy. These projects will benefit hundred thousands deserving people in less developed areas. The minister said that government takes initiative for projects that are commercially non-viable. The purpose is to bring un-served areas in the mainstream. He said that policies of the present government led to macro-economic stability which resulted increase in DFI in diverse sectors. “Because of these policies Pakistan became visible on world map. From transportation to telecommunication new projects are materialized and are benefitting people in areas that are not viable for commercial projects,” he said. He also appreciated NTS for allocating 30 locations for telecom centres. The minister said that new locations will be acquired to spread telecom services in far-flung areas of Pakistan.

The Minister for IT thanked the Finance Minister Ishaq Dar to grace the occasion. Anusha Rahman was of the view that the Broadband for Sustainable Development projects will take state of the art 3G Mobile Broadband service to far-flung areas at a rapid pace and in almost parity with urban areas of the country. She said that these contracts are part of overall policy decision of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for providing maximum facilitation to remote areas of the country. She informed that a population of around 302,048 in Khuzdar and 147,057 in Chagai will benefit from these projects and around 116 new BTS towers will also be installed.

It is noteworthy to mention here that through these Broadband for Sustainable Development Projects, districts of Nal, Khuzdar, Aaranji, Wadh, Saroona, Mula, Ornach, Zaehri and Karkh in Khuzdar lot and districts of Dal Bandin, Taftan and Mashkhel in Chagai lot will be served.