ICT sector in general has observed significant growth since Hassan  Rouhani was first elected president in 2013.
ICT sector in general has observed significant growth since Hassan  Rouhani was first elected president in 2013.

Telecom Chief Wants to Bridge Rural-Urban Divide

The newly appointed telecoms minister has vowed to decentralize investment and boost knowledge-based companies in the provinces
International Telecommunication Union in its latest report ranked Iran 89 among 175 countries based on ICT Development Index

Telecom Chief Wants to Bridge Rural-Urban Divide

In order to get the record straight regarding growth, revenue, expansion and access  in the key IT and ICT sector, the new telecoms minister has called on provincial officials to gather and present precise statistics in their respective fields.
During the vetting process in the Majlis last month, the minister Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi  and the Telecoms Ministry were strongly criticized for failing to provide reliable data on ICT sector growth in the rural areas, the ministry’s official website reported.
While the sector has observed significant growth in major cities like Tehran, Isfahan, Yazd and Shiraz, the ministry and its affiliated organizations have hardly provided an accurate image of their performance in the rural and remote areas.
For instance, there is no reliable data on the value of the telecoms market in several provinces. What indeed is available is limited to the number of landline phones and the number of SIM cards sold by the operators. Then again, the numbers are murky, contradictory and open to question.
On the potential in rural areas, experts believe e-commerce and the Internet can and should increasingly become life-enriching tools, driven by data adoption, especially in rural areas the likes of which has been reported in and from many developing countries.
They point out that telecom potential of rural markets will evolve over time and is in need of investment that has been visibly slow even in many urban areas in recent years.
However, one main constraint often mentioned by economists and the private sector is that revenue generation relative to the investment required in the small towns and remote regions is lower than in urban areas. This further explains whey private companies in Iran have not shown much interest in investing in regions with smaller populations.

 Report on Revenues
In a move to boost openness and transparency, Jahromi said, “The provincial officials will gather information on operators’ revenues in the provinces. They are also required to provide detailed reports on the local ICT market.” He has set a one-month deadline for the reports.
According to the minister, the ICT sector’s organizational structure in the provinces is unsound, has failed and must be reformed to be able to perform efficiently.
The structure in some underdeveloped regions dates back to the time when communications was limited to the telephone and postal services.
The 34-year old minister says expanding the  ICT market and boosting technology- based businesses is a priority.
Centralized investment and unbalanced growth in telecoms infrastructure in the rural areas has “deprived large numbers of the people of a variety of services.”
According to Jahromi, even the Post Bank of Iran, through which the government offers several e-government services, does not have offices in 70% of the cities and villages. Under Jahromi’s watch, the bank is set to further expand its branches.
Jahromi has vowed to expand telecoms infrastructure. He has proposed that startup accelerators should also be set up in small towns and rural areas to boost the knowledge-based economy.
Although Iran’s ICT sector in general has observed significant growth since President Hassan took office in 2013, Iran is still lagging behind developed countries.
The International Telecommunication Union in its latest report ranked Iran 89 among 175 countries based on the ICT Development Index — an index published by the UN International Telecommunication Union based on internationally agreed ICT indicators.


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