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Review of Pakistan’s digitally enabled services

The studies revealed that the fourth industrial revolution is under way and digital innovations are benefitting our societies through creating opportunities, enhancing lives as well as standard of living and even lessening risks. The experts also recorded in their studies that digital innovations leading to transformation are also opening up opportunities to raise economic growth, decline inequality and enhance inclusion. But this transformation would not happen by itself, since it takes the whole system to collaborate and cooperate to bend the curve of digital transformation towards a more prosperous tomorrow.

The statistics showed that cheaper and better technology is intensely connecting the world and today 8.0 billion devices are connected to the internet globally and by 2030 this number is predicted to reach 125 billion.

In the developing countries like Pakistan, Ministry of IT&T and PTA under the patronage of Government of Pakistan became a focal point for new opportunities arising from the latest developments in the digitization of business and society. The present Government of Pakistan has chalked out policy for positioning the country on the world map by participation in worldwide forums, organizing local conferences, scaling software technology parks (Lahore, Islamabad, Rawalpindi) and facilitating certification (ISO 27001 and CMMI) programs.

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According to the Pakistan software export board, Pakistan has greater than 15 IT parks with IT-enabled infrastructure with more being planned in future. The country has also greater than 2,500 IT & ITeS-BPO firms out of which 110 are certified in quality standards such as ISO 9001 and ISO 27001 and 22 are certified in Carnegie Mellon’s CMMI standard.

Pakistan has more than 750 call centers with expertise in both inbound and outbound calling including technical support and telemarketing. Pakistan has greater than 300,000 English-speaking IT & ITeS-BPO professionals and graduates and this pool is growing every year. No doubt in the country, telecos have played a main role in launching digitally enabled services. These companies are at the forefront in offering strength, access and visibility to number of projects/programs that have altered day to day lives of people of the country. These companies have collaborated and cooperated not only with government organizations but also assisted startups, IT firms and services sector of Pakistan to transform them digitally.

While facilitating the IT industry, first ever digital policy has been proclaimed by the Government of Pakistan. The digital policy envisions the country to become a strategic enabler for an accelerated digitization ecosystem to enlarge the knowledge based economy and spur socioeconomic growth. With this vision the digital policy has set the goals counting holistic digital policy with ICT as a broad enabler of socio-economic development, promote the use of technology in education, health, agriculture and other key socioeconomic sectors. The goals also include promoting E/M-commerce to enhance the present market size by providing enabling environment, where Payment Service Providers (PSP) and Payment Service Operators (PSO) can operate and organize an effective e-commerce platform.

 

According to the PTA report, the Agriculture Department, Government of Punjab has introduced five year Kissan (Farmer) Package Program aimed at digital and financial inclusion of 500,000 small land holder farmers who would be offered interest free loans. Farmers have been offered digital apps on their smart phones. It has simplified on boarding process of farmers and streamlining the disbursement of loans. 93 percent of the farmers were new to banking system. As of June 2018, over 69,000 mobile wallets were opened and Rs. 11.95 million were disbursed via mobile wallets into the farmers’ accounts. On the other hand report also recorded that CMOs and banks have partnered with many school systems counting Roots, Headstarts etc. to pay their school/college fee by m-wallet accounts and agents outlets or online.

Amongst others, presently Jazz partnered with the HED of KPK province to digitize the admission fee of public colleges across the province. Before this, students were required to visit dedicated bank branches along with a challan form to deposit fee. For many in the rural regions of the country, education is often a way of breaking out of the poverty cycle. Yet most of them do not have bank accounts, which makes it tough for rural support organizations to transfer money that would assist them pay for school.

According to the PTA report, rural outreach of OTC outlets is collaborating with these organizations to disburse stipends to students. JazzCash has offered such support to Sindh Education Reform Program to support 600,000 female students of class VI to X. For efficient wallet opening process, mobile banking agents visit each school personally to register wallets for students/guardians. Funds are disbursed on these wallets which can be later withdrawn from agents all across Pakistan. Similar arrangements have been made with Punjab Vocational Training Council to ease the disbursement process on Mobile Wallets of the trainees.

Contribution of 3G & 4G users

Statistics released through PTA explained that 3G and 4G users (mobile broadband) have made a main contribution in overall subscription as its total number reached 63 million till January 2019 as against to 61.61 million by December previous year. Tele-density for cellular mobile grew to 74.48 percent and for broadband subscribers reached 31.19 percent by January 2019. As per details, Jazz’s total count for 3G users stood at 13.72 million by end-January as against to 13.79 million by end-December 2018, recording a fall. Jazz 4G user numbers jumped from 7.053 million by December last to 7.606 million by January 2019. Furthermore, Zong 3G subscribers declined from 8.692 million by December last to 8.660 million by January 2019 while number of 4G users jumped from 9.86 million by December last to 10.443 million by January this year. The number of 3G users of Telenor network declined from 9.136 million by December to 8.917 million by January 2019. Ufone added 78,366 3G users on its network during one month as total reached 8.418 million as against to 8.339 million by December 2018. PTA also showed that the number of broadband subscribers by technology included DSL 16,12,490, HFC 58,573, Wimax 54,733, EvDO 3,01,745, FTTH 87,763 and Mobile Broadband 63 million users.

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