Speaking at the inaugural ceremony of the International Telecommunications Conference, he referred to the political instability and unrest that has been associated with the region and said that despite the instability and its negative impact on the global economy Iran has been successful in maintaining a high rate of economic growth and increased employment.
"Effective laws and regulations, including that governing foreign investment, have been passed that have helped strengthen the national economy and economic institutions, including attracting more foreign capital.
Turning to privatization as a measure that spurs economic growth and provides favorable employment opportunities for Iranian and foreign investors, he said that the government will further focus on reducing and eliminating trade obstacles and government monopolies during the period of the Fourth Development Plan (2005-2010).
"The communications sector plays a decisive role in materializing the goals set toward national development by diversifying the sources of income and reducing reliance on oil revenues to facilitate long-term and sustainable development.
"It also has an effective impact on creating jobs for the young generation. Therefore, investment in the sector will be of high priority," he added.
Aref reiterated the need to develop the country's information, communications and technology sector in the interest of national progress and to expand regional and international cooperation.
Turning to Iran's potentials in the field, he mentioned the country's capacity to train annually more than 3,000 ICT experts and university majors in the field, its more than 20 ICT research and study centers as well as 50 large production plants with advanced and updated equipment across the country.
"Iran is also prepared to provide regional countries with access to its ICT facilities and arrange specialized courses in Iranian universities and research centers for interested foreign students.
"We also welcome joint investment in research projects in the field and closer cooperation with interested partners, given Iran's strategic position, its affordable infrastructural facilities and potential for easy transit of goods at competitive prices," he added.
The official said that it is high time basic practical steps were taken to establish an IT regional center to further develop the current communication and information technology potential.
The International Telecommunications Conference is attended by the communications ministers of Afghanistan, Syria, Pakistan and Tajikistan as well as a number of communications experts from Iran and other foreign countries. It is taking place at the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting's (IRIB) international conference hall.
Representatives of Germany, Japan, Britain, Denmark, Singapore, Turkey, France, Morocco, UAE, South Africa, Egypt and Saudi Arabia are scheduled to deliver speeches in the ongoing two-day conference.
Prior to Aref's speech, Iran's ICT Minister Seyed Ahmad Motamedi and the Secretary General of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Yoshio Itsumi addressed the audience.
Thirty-five officials from 20 countries are expected to address the conference, which aims to facilitate regional telecommunications and investment in developing markets.
... Payvand News - 7/12/04 ... --