WORLD: Muslims rely on foreign communications

Speakers at Organization of Islamic Conference stress economic cooperation between Muslim countries in the telecom and IT sectors

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

LAHORE --- The Muslim World is forced to depend on foreign communication networks due to lack of advanced communication skills and information technology (IT).

This was the consensus of speakers at the inaugural session of the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) Telecom and IT Conference at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) here on Tuesday. They said that Muslims constituted 25 per cent of the world population and possessed 70 per cent of the world energy resources and 40 per cent of raw materials but collective OIC share in global trade was barely 6 to 7 per cent and its development indicators were among the lowest in the world.

The speakers including Small and Medium Enterprise Development Authority (Smeda) CEO Shahid Rashid, LCCI Vice-President Shafqat Saeed Piracha and LCCI Standing Committee on OIC Chairman Mian Fazal Ahmad said that the Islamic Development Bank (IDB), the financial wing of the OIC, established to promote economic cooperation between Muslim states had maintained a low-key profile. The IDB should proactively promote major infrastructure projects such as telecom and IT.

They said that the idea of a real Islamic common market, especially with regard to telecom industry, had always appealed to Muslims all over the world. Although religion was a common bond among the 57 member states of the organisation but there were several missing links for effective and adequate economic cooperation between them. Communication played a vital role in confidence building process among nations and governments and it was one of the prime responsibilities of all the Islamic States to encourage maximum research and investment in it in the public sector.

LCCI President Mohammad Ali Mian said the chamber had organised the conference and expo to identify the potential areas for economic cooperation in telecommunication sector. The conference would also help identify the bottlenecks in promotion of business among Muslim countries and experts from these countries would get a chance to discuss the quality of services, research and development issues and cost effectiveness of various products and services.

He said that the Telecom and IT sector had been widely identified as a major potential area of growth. The sector had been undergoing restructuring and reform for the last one decade and was creating new opportunities of investments, he added.

Punjab Excise and Taxation Minister Mian Mujtaba Shujaur Rehman described the steps being taken by the provincial government for the promotion of IT.

Iranian Consul General Saeed Kharazi said that during the last few years, some of the developing countries in Muslim World, including Iran and Pakistan, had made concentrated efforts to achieve success in the field of IT.

He said IT was the biggest area on which they had focused their attention for maximum cooperation and they could now use the technology for promotion of relations among Muslim nations.