By Taj Nabi Khan
ISLAMABAD, Mar 22 (APP):The rapid digitization across the globe is transforming almost everything on face of earth from economy (physical to software-controlled) to government-citizens’ interaction, market-customer relations to healthcare and education.
The digital landscape is 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.
In an increasingly digital world, there remains little doubt that connecting people to the world can open new possibilities and bridge the gaps of inequality, both social and economic. As the internet penetration has gone up to 70 percent in the country, countless case studies emerge that people successfully achieving their ambitions and turning their dreams into a reality.
Historically, there have been various times when digital evolution and innovation has truly amazed the world. The digitization and technology hold the promise of progress and prosperity for almost every country including Pakistan. However, it really needs tweaks in policies and growth in IT infrastructure which can act as catalysts for growth.
The Information Technology (IT) has become a fundamental part of industry and manufacturing. The technologies like Internet of Things (IoT), big data, robotics, automation, cloud computing, artificial intelligence, mobility and others continue to have a growing effect on the society, economy and environment.
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.
The incumbent government has taken the initiative to upgrade 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.
According to 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 made a significant increase in 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.
The process of digitization can help grow the economy more quickly, fuel innovations, as well as the business environment. This in return 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 efforts 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.
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 make access to eight thousand officials and on which around million people are registered. “As for as digital transformation of Pakistan is concerned; it is one of the biggest case studies with 94% resolution rate of the cases”, he added.
About corona virus cases in the country, Dr. Akif Khan said that the KP government has recently worked out on CoronaAPP for tracking active and suspected patients, quarantined and deaths from coronavirus for making their details and areas online. He said, “Like citizen portal, the CoronaAPP can be replicated at federal level for avoiding papers which can carry the virus.” However, it is a must for digital transformation and decision-making to have an integrated approach and coordination of all departments to achieve the required results and avoid the duplication of work, he added.
Rawalpindi-based Information Technology Expert, Muhammad Tanveer Khan said that digitization makes public service delivery more efficient and speedy by ensuring ‘one window operations’ of different official tasks — taking less time and labor. It also decreases the chances of deliberate/un-deliberate human errors and the online record could be easily authenticated from any part of the world, he added.
The IT expert 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 multi-layer support-backup and security/contingency plan.