Ground paved for private sector to invest in fiber optic
KABUL (Pajhwok): The implementation of a new policy has enabled the private sector to invest in Afghanistan’s fiber optic networks that would help extend access to internet for 15 million people over the next four years.
The project of fiber’s implementation began in 2007 and so far Afghanistan has been connected with Iran, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Pakistan.
According to the Ministry of Telecommunications and Information Technology (MCIT), around six million people in Afghanistan currently have access to internet services.
The government maintained monopoly over the project until recently, but now it would share the important scheme with the private sector in line with a new policy called ‘Open Access and Competitive Law” the High Economic Council approved on Saturday.
MCIT Minister Abdul Razaq Wahidi told a press conference in Kabul that the aim of the new policy was to facilitate investment by the private sector, improve the communications and information technology sector and expand people’s access to the internet.
He said opening a healthy and fair environment for competition in the fiber optic market, providing basic infrastructure in telecommunications and paving the ground for access to active and inactive infrastructures of telecommunications sector to all investors without discrimination are parts of the policy.
“This policy makes a framework through which telecom service providers would be able to create, implement and develop new infrastructures across the country,” he said.
The policy encouraged owners of telecom infrastructures to share their resources with each other and all telecommunication service providers from large to small would have equal access to necessary infrastructures, Wahidi added.
Meanwhile, Hamayon Qayumi, senior advisor to the president, said the unity government took effective steps for improving people’s economic situation. “Open Access and Competitive Law is one of the policies for improving a sustained economy and attracting cooperation,” he said.
“The Afghan government knows the country’s economic and social improvement is not possible without an effective partnership with the private sector. With implementation of the new policy, basic and revenue generating infrastructures would be taken out of the government’s monopoly,” he said.
Qayumi said the policy would allow the private sector to legally find access to telecommunications infrastructures and extend the fiber optic networks across the country.
The policy would convert Afghanistan into the connection and transfer point for information and would play a special role in neighboring countries, he added.
Economy Minister Abdul Sattar Murad, who also participated the conference, said the new policy would generate jobs, improve the private sector, develop economy, increase national revenue, improve e-governance and joint investment, healthy competition in telecommunications, and reduce internet prices.
Based on the policy, the private sector would also play a role to improve national economy, he said, but added the partnership needee an effective program to be made operational.
Atiqullah Nasrat, operations board head at the Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), said despite government’s achievements in the past 14 years, problems in areas of standardization and prices remained.
For resolving these problems, the private sector had always supported the creation of effective policies and procedures, he said.
He added the government’s monopoly on telecommunication services and discriminations were problems that prevented the private sector from investing in the area.
He asked the government to provide more facilities to the private sector so it could compete with the government.
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