Haaris Muhammad Chaudhry to Step Down As USF CEO After 4 Years in Service

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Universal Service Fund (USF), Haaris Muhammad Chaudhry has decided to step down after completing his four years term on August 15, 2023.

CEO USF during his tenure has made significant progress in connecting -40 million people living in rural areas of Pakistan, besides successfully contracting a total of 83 projects worth Rs 77.7 billion, as opposed to 76 projects, worth Rs 57 billion in the starting 13-year period.

Chaudhry has formally informed Syed Amin Ul Haq, Federal Minister of lT & Telecom, and Syed Navid A Sheikh, Federal Secretary of lT & Telecom & Chairman of the Board USF about his decision.

Through the letter a copy of which is available, CEO has informed them after careful thought and consideration, he believes it is now time for him to hand over the reins to new leadership who can bring fresh perspectives and innovative ideas to drive the organization forward. Therefore, my last day with USF will be 15th August 2023, he added.

He further stated that initiatives taken during his tenure have accelerated the pace of change in these communities, enabling online payment of utilities, access to online education and healthcare, and expanding business ventures for their betterment.

“Notably, we expanded fiber optic networks, improved internet service quality, and enabled broadband internet access in rural regions. ln the last 4 years, usF contracted 17 optic Fiber projects worth Rs. 27.7 billion, extending connectivity to 925 THe/ucs/towns across the country. Additionally, we laid 5199 km of optic Fiber, contributing to improved connectivity and infrastructure development. We also launched 65 Next Generation – Broadband for Sustainable Development (NG-BSD) projects, worth Rs. 50 billion, expanding 3G/4G services across rural areas of Pakistan”, Chaudhry added.

He further stated that these efforts have made a significant impact on the lives of rural communities and should be pursued in the future Furthermore, during his tenure, they launched Pakistan’s smart village project in Gokina, located approximately 20 km away from Islamabad. This project provided residents with access to e-health services, smart classes in Gokina girls’ school to accelerate srEM education, and digital training and entrepreneurship skills development programs.

The achievements in Gokina have laid the groundwork for progress in other rural communities across Pakistan. The USF has played a pivotal role in bridging the digital divide in the country.

“Through strategic initiatives and the dedicated efforts of our team, we have connected millions of people to the Internet, improving education, healthcare, and economic opportunities nationwide. None of this would have been possible without your guidance and the unwavering support of the Ministry of lT and Telecommunication of the Government of Pakistan, ” he remarked.

“Our exceptional results have gained international recognition, with organizations such as GSMA and lTU/others] honoring our efforts to expand market presence, forge valuable partnerships, and continuously push the boundaries of innovation. As the CEO of a leading public sector organization, I am proud to have been part of transforming the company’s culture into one that values diversity, integrity, growth, innovation, and teamwork (DlGlT)- all core values of USF,” he said.

The USF executive further added, “ln line with our commitment to diversity and inclusivity, we have achieved the target of including more female employees in our workforce, surpassing the 15% mark”.

He recommended the following for USF:

  • Continuation of the OFC Program to UC Levels
  • Continuous Connectivity to rural and remote areas including highways and tourist locations, through 4G
  • National roaming in Balochistan, and in all USF projects

He further stated that he worked in the Telecom Sector for many years & had the privilege of working with some of the most talented and dedicated professionals however the significant efforts of the ministry in the following areas are unprecedented.

Rationalizing the taxes on the telecom sector,  infrastructure sharing, advocating Spectrum fee in PKR instead of USD. He urged the leadership to continue fighting for the survival of the telecom sector which has the potential to be a game-changer for Pakistan.

The telecom sector can help achieve the true dream of a digital Pakistan, he added.

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