Pakistan plans to establish an indigenous facility for development of satellites in accordance with international space standards under its Annual Development Plan for 2018-19.
The facility, to be called Pakistan Space Center, will have the capability to carry out manufacturing, testing, system-level assembly, integration, launch, and operations of various types of satellites.
The Pakistan Multi-Mission Satellite (PakSat-MM1) to be built at the facility will cater to Direct-To-Home (DTH) television transmission, High-Throughput Services (HTS), and Broadband Internet, besides strategic satcom.
Another satellite planned ahead is the 2nd Pakistan Optical Remote Sensing Satellite (PRSS-O2). Its feasibility study will be carried out in 2018-19.
The ADP also sets aside funds for the Pakistan Navigation Satellite System (PakNav). Once completed, PakNav will enable the country to have independent satellite navigation for both civilian and strategic purposes.
Besides satellites, there are several other science and technology projects highlighted in the ADP. The Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) sector has an allocation of Rs.6,535 million under the Public Sector Development Program (PSDP). The funds will be used to improve the capacity of the IT industry.
Another major initiative identified in the ADP is the Cross-Border OFC system between China and Pakistan for enhanced international connectivity of voice and data traffic under the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects.
About 70 companies will be provided consultancy to attain Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI) level-1, 2, 3, and 5 and ISO 27,001/ 20,000 certifications through a Ministry of Information Technology-led project titled ‘Enhancing IT Exports through Industry Support Programs’.
Under the Prime Minister’s ICT Internship Program, 3,000 ICT graduates will be placed in public and private sector organizations.
Other projects include establishment of a Technical Training Institute in Gilgit-Baltistan, expansion of Internet and broadband services to Azad, Jammu and Kashmir (AJ&K) and Gilgit-Baltistan, and setting up of a Quality Assurance Lab for software products in Pakistan Software Export board (PSEB).
The ADP document states that the country has tremendous opportunities to tap into since the ICT sector is just in its take-off stage for now. It estimates IT and ITES-Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) exports to have already crossed USD3 billion by the end of 2017-18. Strategic initiatives along with tax holidays and capital repatriation incentives for the private sector can make Pakistan into an outsourcing destination in the region by 2020, and increase IT and ITES exports to USD 5 billion, it adds.
“With the right impetus, the ICT sector can become a driver of change and growth in the next few years. Therefore, continuous focus is required on software development, software and IT workforce export, in-country employment opportunities, e-governance for an effective service delivery, m-governance and smart monitoring, and technology incubators and support for entrepreneurs.”