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Government Launches 39 e-Rozgaar Centres to Provide Digital Skills and Jobs to Unemployed Youth

Caretaker Prime Minister Anwarul Haq Kakar inaugurated 39 new e-Rozgaar centres in Islamabad on Friday as part of an ambitious initiative to establish 10,000 such centres across Pakistan. The centres aim to provide digital skills training and employment opportunities to unemployed young people in the country.

The Minister of Information Technology, Dr. Umar Saif, announced at the launch event that the government has allocated Rs. 1 billion to set up these centres in partnership with private companies. The centres will give interest-free loans to qualified individuals and businesses that are shortlisted.

Initially, 250 centres will be established in small towns and big cities with the eventual goal of having 10,000 centres nationwide. Dr. Saif emphasized the need to address challenges faced by Pakistan’s 1.5 million freelancers such as lack of internet connectivity, laptops, and dedicated work spaces. The centres plan to accommodate one million freelancers which can potentially increase annual IT exports by $10 billion.

Around forty e-Rozgaar facilities are currently under development and are expected to be operational by February 19, 2024.

Dr. Saif expressed satisfaction with the performance of the IT Ministry under the caretaker government over the past four months. He credited the Special Investment Facilitation Council for timely approvals of IT policies and projects, allowing IT companies to retain 50% of their foreign exchange earnings.

A key development is the launch of a pilot project on February 1, 2024 to open 10,000 accounts to enable freelancers to receive international payments via PayPal. More third-party payment partnerships will be pursued if successful.

To strengthen technological infrastructure, issues related to 5G spectrum availability have been addressed by Dr. Saif. A spectrum auction is scheduled for August 2024. There are also plans to install 200,000 km more optical fiber across Pakistan.

Major accomplishments include implementing the right-of-way policy and resolving disputes between institutions. The minister added that the long-awaited Telecommunication Tribunal has now been established.

Other notable initiatives highlighted include the Pakistan Startup Fund with initial investment of Rs. 2 billion, the “Smartphones for All” program offering cell phones on easy installments, and the R&D fund to encourage local mobile phone manufacturing.

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