Right after Pakistan’s Credit Rating Outlook was upgraded to stable, another good news is making headlines across the nation. On 5th December 2019, Prime Minister Imran Khan launched the “Digital Pakistan Campaign”, an initiative that’s aimed at transforming the entire nation into a digitally empowered society. In this blog, we are going to discuss, comprehend, and analyse the need and role of digitisation for developing countries like Pakistan.
Current Status and Further Need of Digital Advancements in Pakistan
Almost every Pakistani has access to the internet and owns a mobile phone, no matter how remote they are located and how much the area is considered far-flung and away from human reach. Thanks to global networking and connectivity, the majority of households across the country enjoy convenient and affordable access to the internet. A prime example of how the increasing internet penetration has helped the economy of Pakistan is by looking at some facts and figures and the growth of the tech freelancing industry in Pakistan. Going digital, in a, however limited way, has already helped the country carve a niche for itself on the global stage. And, by the looks of it, things are only going to get better from here onwards.
According to a recently published report, Pakistan is among the countries where the use of mobiles is on a higher side, and even with such increased use of mobile phones, the contribution of the mobile market to the country’s GDP is still relatively low in comparison with international standards. The report suggested that Pakistan has still a significant scope for expansion. So, in order for the government to align the country with global benchmarks and meet national standards of development, digital advancement in Pakistan is something that cannot be overlooked or postponed for later.
Now, since we’re talking about the international progress of the country, we cannot miss out to mention that Google’s Head of Large Customer Marketing, South Asia, Lars Anthonisen once said, “I believe Pakistan will prove to be a good investment for entrepreneurs around the world”. He also described Pakistan as a “digital-first country” in his article and stated, “There’s a reason Pakistan is attracting interest from major foreign investors. With an economy powered by small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and a rapidly growing population of mobile users, the country is on track to produce one of the largest digital audiences in the world.”
In order to attract international investors to consider Pakistan as a worthy destination for their digital campaigns, Lars Anthonisen also added, “With a current GDP at $1,641 per capita, Pakistan is expected to be the fourth fastest-growing economy globally through 2030.”
The government had realised the need for such advancements and started laying the groundwork for a digital and better Pakistan in 2018. The policy was proposed and made public by the Ministry of Information Technology and Telecom under the vision stated below:
“To become a strategic enabler for an accelerated digitization ecosystem to expand the knowledge-based economy and spur socio-economic growth.”
Knowing the core importance and the need for digitising Pakistan, the government rapidly worked on the proposed policy by taking due considerations of its possible positive impacts. And, soon enough, the policy was launched as a government-funded campaign in December 2019.
Possible Impacts of Digital Pakistan Campaign
Keeping in view the considerable growth of the startup culture in Pakistan, here’s how digitising Pakistan will help the nation elevate the level and volume of trade on various fronts:
- Economic and Financial Growth: According to several economic and financial experts, the Digital Pakistan initiative could boost the growth of the Gross Domestic Product, and it can play a major role in increasing employment opportunities while increasing labour productivity. Owing to the demand and growth of innovation, more investors and entrepreneurs will hit the market with creative solutions and will be motivated to invest in different sectors, which will result in a dramatic hike in the number of businesses and services providers, especially tech-based start-ups.
- Social and Environmental Impact: Even though the digitisation of Pakistan might have created a fierce debate among policy-makers, there’s no debating the fact that it has the potential to create equal opportunities for all deserving individuals. It will open new doors for citizens to improve their standard of living and will also assure them about government-related transactions with increased transparency and convenience.
- Property Market Expansion: Several industries, including real estate in Pakistan, have already gotten rid of pen and paper and succumbed their day-to-day client interactions and business functions to the hands of computers and other smart devices. Not only there will be more people interested in investing in the property market, but the campaign will also help existing real estate agents in elevating their client services and user interactions.
Technically, it is the right time to mark your identity in Pakistan’s business sector with technological advancements on the rise and easy access to the internet at high speeds.
The Latest Updates on the Digital Pakistan Campaign
The Digital Pakistan campaign was launched by Prime Minister Khan on 5th December 2019. During the inauguration speech, he said this initiative is aimed at making the lives of people easier through e-governance. Addressing the crowd gathered for the inauguration of the Digital Advancement campaign in Pakistan, the premier said that this project is a priority for the government to attract foreign investment. Emphasising on the benefits of this initiative, he said, “It will unleash the potential of our youth since a great number of population in the country is young and it could be converted into country’s strength through Digital Pakistan vision.”
On the same occasion, PM Khan also spoke about women empowerment through this campaign. The premier mentioned, “Women can also take part in this campaign, they can find jobs through it – it is a huge opportunity and we’ll not miss any chance to take advantage of it.”
Further discussing the many positive impacts of e-governance in Pakistan, the PM said that the campaign also aims to eliminate corruption and make government-related interactions convenient for people.” He added, “When the people are connected with the government, it creates ease for them. Additionally, they do not have to form queues and you can get everything done on your mobile phone.”
Disclosing a few details of the campaign, the PM announced that Tania Aidrus will spearhead the Digital Pakistan Campaign and invited her to express her views to the crowd. While addressing the gathering, Tania Aidrus, the Chief of Digital Pakistan Campaign, expressed her gratitude to the government of Pakistan for making such a paradigm-shifting move and inviting her to contribute to the country’s well-being.
The Five Pillars of the Digital Pakistan Campaign
The former Google executive and current Chief of Digital Pakistan Campaign Tania Aidrus identified the five pillars where the government needed to create and deploy centralised strategies from the lowest to the highest order. One of the five key areas identified was “access and connectivity”. Explaining its role, she said that access to the internet and strong connectivity is one of the fundamental rights of citizens, just like food, shelter, and clothes. She started with an example, “A soldier posted in Siachen gets one opportunity a week to speak to his family members. I want to ensure that whenever he connects to his family via a video call, he can do so without any issues.”
She moved on to speak about the second key area, which she identified as “Digital Infrastructure” and said, “Just like you need the road infrastructure in a country, Pakistan needs a digital infrastructure. In order to advance in the tech world, we need to have a digital infrastructure in the correct order.”
Releasing the third, and one of the most important pillars of the Digital Pakistan Campaign – “E-governance in Pakistan” – she said, “The best way to ensure transparency is to digitise government-related tasks and processes. In current days, people find it difficult to carry out land documentation and other processes. We need to digitise these.”
She then connected the fourth pillar of digital advancements in Pakistan and identified it as “Digital Training and Skill”. Tania Aidrus said that universities in Pakistan aren’t incorporating technology in the curriculum, and they need to get familiar with it to compete at the global level.
Next, Tania talked about the fifth and final pillar of the Digital Pakistan Campaign. She said that there’s a dire need to work on “Innovation and Entrepreneurship”. She added, “We need to build an environment where entrepreneurship and innovation take place. It is only possible if the government makes it convenient for investors to invest in Pakistan. We need to attract companies that are worth billions of dollars.”
In these times of agility, where we no longer wait for postmen to deliver our important messages and where “Google” has become a verb for looking up something, digital advancements in Pakistan is something that needs no new debates. It’s not a matter of choice; it’s a matter of survival and competing at a global level, successfully. At the very least, the impact of going digital is an increase in jobs in many sectors, which in itself could be a major indicator of economic growth and a significant contributor to Pakistan’s economy.