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Computerized ID Cards Unlikely Before Polls

Computerized ID Cards Unlikely Before Polls

KABUL – Minister of Telecommunications and Information Technology Amirzai Sangin said on Tuesday that technical problems continued to block the issuance of computerised identity cards ahead of elections. Addressing the first-ever Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Conference in Kabul, Sangin said officials and representatives of telecom firms from 20 countries participated in the event.

The participants shared the experiences with the ministry. One key objective behind the conference was boosting regional cooperation with Afghanistan and projecting a good image of the country, he said. “Residents of most foreign countries think there is nothing in Afghanistan except war and insurgent attacks. But they saw recent developments in the sphere of communications in the country,” he added.

Amirzai hoped foreigners would feel encouraged to invest in Afghanistan and the government would facilitate them. The telecom sector had been developed over the past few years due to proper policies and facilitation of private investment. Regarding the media sector improvement, he said 34 TV channels were on air in Kabul and 52 in provinces, with 61 radio stations functioning in the capital and 156 others elsewhere in the country.

Mobile phone coverage was available to 90 percent of the population, he said, explaining only 10 percent of people in restive areas had no access to the facility. About 20 million Afghans, including 48 percent women, have mobile phones. Although the internet system was not fully successful in the country, still two million people had access to the facility, he said.

The monthly cost of one MB-speed internet had been reduced from $4,000 to $97 due to work on the optic fibre project and issuance of licenses for 3G services, he said. In the next two years, the entire population will have access to the internet. Ahead of the April 2014 elections, they could not provide computerised ID cards, he admitted. But before the next polls, all people would be able to get electronic cards, he promised. (PAN)

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