ICT Chief Inaugurates Tech Projects in Gilan

ICT Minister Mohammad Javad Azari-Jahromi took a one-day trip to the northern province of Gilan on Friday to inaugurate several ICT projects and discuss the future of the administration’s long-awaited e-government push.
Financed by a 3.5-trillion-rial ($ 83.33 million) state investment, the projects inaugurated by the minister included the expansion of the data delivery network and fiber-optic network in the province and the upgrade of the infrastructure employed by the Telecommunication Company of Iran in the province. Projects were also initiated so as to enhance the mobile network services offered in the region.
Furthermore, in collaboration with the Communication Infrastructure Company of Iran, the ministry is poised to increase Gilan’s collective bandwidth, which entails improvements in end user access to the Internet both in terms of enhanced connectivity and speed and also decreased latency.
Moreover, the minister launched several other ICT-related projects with 2.56 trillion rials ($ 60.9 million) of funding for the current year.
During a meeting with Gilan’s Governor General Mostafa Salari and managers of technology businesses in the provincial capital Rasht, the young minister broke the news that the pilot phase of the government’s overdue e-governance plan will be launched this week.
The e-governance plan is designed to eradicate lack of coordination between state bodies and ease citizens’ access to services through the application of information and communications technologies.
On various occasions, authorities have outlined the plan saying that all government services are to be accessible through online platforms and mobile applications as soon as the scheme is fully implemented.
By definition, e-governance is the application of ICT for provision of government services, exchange of information, communication transactions and much more. Through e-governance, services will be available to citizens in a convenient, efficient and transparent manner.
Azari-Jahromi said, “The project will create transparency, help tackle corruption, decrease costs and maximize efficiency.”
According to the minister, Iran is ranked 100th in the e-government development index. Azari-Jahromi says the Iranian Parliament has required President Hassan Rouhani’s administration to improve the country’s standing by the year ending in March 2019.
The minister also used the opportunity to praise the administration’s Mobile Registry Scheme.
“The implementation of the Registry Scheme has added $ 400 million to the government’s annual revenues and halted the entry of smuggled mobile phones.”
Aimed at curbing cellphone smuggling, the ICT Ministry, Islamic Republic of Iran Customs Administration, Communication Regulatory Authority and the Industries Ministry created the Cellphone Registry Scheme that bars local operators from offering services to contraband phones.

Recurring Challenges
With the incessant influx of tourists, maintaining Gilan’s communications infrastructure poses various challenges to the administration, Internet service providers, telephony companies and mobile operators.
According to the minister, the province’s telecom infrastructure needs to be upgraded so as to enhance the services offered to the locals and visitors.
In a push to increase people’s connectivity, operators in collaboration with government bodies have set up public WiFi hotspots in the area.
Azari-Jahromi says currently there are 50 WiFi hotspots in the province, adding that “by the end of September, this figure will triple to 150 points.”
The ministry believes the measure to some extent will be the answer to the province’s floating population.
Underdeveloped Areas
During the provincial tour, Azari-Jahromi announced a program that is to establish communications networks for villages containing over 20 households across the country.
The budget devoted to the project totals three trillion rials ($ 72.4 million), which according to Azari-Jahromi is not even nearly enough to cover the expenses for all target villages.
The minister says currently 26,000 villages have access to Internet services in Iran.
Azari-Jahromi also said application of copper wires for expansion of communications in underdeveloped areas does not have any economic or technological justification and the ministry is pushing ahead with programs to create fiber-optic networks in such areas.
Furthermore, a database has been established which includes data about each village’s population and connectivity status.
Booming Android Development Industry
The young official pointed to Cafe Bazaar, Iran’s largest Android app market, as a thriving example in the ICT sector.
“Cafe Bazaar’s statistics show that some 67% of Iranian Android app developers are based outside Tehran and 26 % of developers in the field are female.” Noting that expansion of ICT-related businesses can help promote spatial and gender equality.
The minister noted that 2 % of the developers offering apps through Cafe Bazaar live in Gilan Province.
According to a recent Cafe Bazaar’s report, direct and induced employment in the growing app development business currently stands at a staggering 31,000.
Bazaar’s annual report shows that Iranian app developers generated 1.8 trillion rials ($ 42.8 million) in revenue in the year which ended in March.
The minister says during the eleven months spanning from March 2017 to February 2018, Gilan Province claimed 1.7 % of the total income of Iranian mobile app developers, amounting to 30 billion rials ($ 714,285).