Digital Transformation Vital for Economic Development



By Taj Nabi Khan
Digitisation and technology hold the promise of progress and prosperity for almost every country including Pakistan. Similarly, Information Technology has become a fundamental part of industry and manufacturing. Technology like Internet of Things (IoT), big data, robotics, automation, cloud computing, artificial intelligence, mobility and others continue to have a growing effect on society, economy and the environment.

Moreover, the process of rapid digitisation has transformed almost everything on the face of the earth from physical to software-controlled –economy to education, healthcare to market-customer relations and government-citizen interaction to banking. The Digital Pakistan Initiative of the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) has created hope that the government is making serious effort to promote digital technology in the country.

The incumbent government has taken the initiative to upgrade the digital banking infrastructure and ease the conditions and exhausting paperwork for digital services such as e-payments, online transactions and the issuance of credit cards, and their use in online stores or in-store shopping, at petrol pumps, online utility bill payments and university fee payment gateways etc. The process of digitization can help grow the economy more quickly and fuel innovation as well as the business environment. This in turn could alleviate poverty by creating new jobs for the fresh graduates and young entrepreneurs of the country.

The Digital Pakistan Initiative has created hope that the government is making serious effort to promote digital technology in the country. However, Pakistan needs to organize and enhance the skills, expertise and knowledge for digital transformation in all walks of life.  The digital landscape has grown tremendously in Pakistan with a population of over 200 million people. The country has over 165 million mobile subscribers, 70 million active internet users and 60 million smartphone users.

According to the statistical data of Pakistan Telecommunication Authority’s telecom indicators, the number of mobile phone users in Pakistan has crossed 165 million while the provision of 4G/LTE services in remote areas of Pakistan has also witnessed a significant increase in the overall 3G/4G subscribers, as the number of 3G and 4G users in Pakistan crossed 70 million. With an increase of 0.173 million users in just a month, it has become evident that 4G users in Pakistan are increasing with rapid pace and will soon take over the 3G market after the launch of 5G services.

In an increasingly digital world, connecting people to the world can open up new vistas and bridge the gap of inequality both on social and economic fronts. As the internet penetration has gone up to 70 percent in the country, a number of case studies emerge that people successfully achieve their ambitions and turn their dreams into reality.

Similarly, the digital medium is considered cost-effective with a wider reach which comes with many benefits — people around the globe get easy access to information anytime and anywhere through multiple digital devices. Likewise, the digital means of marketing and communication are also considered quicker, result driven and adaptable. Therefore, a large number of companies in Pakistan have flourished through a digital approach by providing customers with effective solutions to their problems through compelling marketing strategies.

Talking to APP, Deputy Coordinator E-Governance, Performance Management & Reforms Unit (PMRU), Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Dr. Akif Khan said that Pakistan’s first initiative was the launch of Pakistan Citizen Portal where citizens can access eight thousand officials.

“As far as the digital transformation of Pakistan is concerned; it is one of the biggest case studies with a 94% resolution rate of cases”, he added. Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of ‘App Desk’, a Rawalpindi based software-house; Muhammad Tanveer Khan said that digitisation makes public service delivery more efficient and speedy by ensuring ‘one window operations’ of different official tasks — taking less time and labour. It also decreases the chances of deliberate/non-deliberate human errors and the online record could be easily authenticated from any part of the world, he added.

The CEO said, “The digitized procedure of public procurement can create the possibility of flawless and corruption-free record of the data with centralized mechanism.”

He said the data could be safeguarded with a multi-layer support-backup and a security/contingency plan.He said that the online users of virtual video-meet have exponentially increased due to COVID19. He said that the video-meet-up has given great relief to people who can connect online from their homes, adding that these days international events take place virtually which are attended by more people due to easy access. He said that “work-from-home” wherever possible can decrease travelling stress, expenses, fuel consumption and environmental degradation.

Majid Khan, an Islamabad based IT expert while talking to the agency said that due to the pandemic, a spike was witnessed in the sale and purchase of smartphones and laptops for online teaching and learning in the country. He said that people in general and students in particular had learnt a great deal about new software and productive use of android phones and computer technology. During the coronavirus when people were confined to their homes, the internet has given a relief through work from home and connecting them online with a large number of people across the globe.

Thus the utility of internet during the pandemic has vastly facilitated people by making their tasks possible from home through softwares of online-task-management and video-meet-ups like google-meet, google-zoom, v-chat, skype and WhatsApp etc.

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