Pakistan’s progress is linked with extensive digitalisation of all sectors, particularly education and health, and fast decision-making is required to match the global advancement in information technology, said President Dr Arif Alvi.
Addressing the National Broadband Network Forum on Wednesday, the president said that Pakistan needed a paradigm shift in the IT sector to process and analyse more data and devise policies as per contemporary needs.
Pakistan was heading in the right direction to improve its digital footprint, he said, adding that the country was ensuring access of the general public to the “information highway” and communication services.
However, Pakistan would have witnessed a revolution in the sector, had the decision of expanding the broadband infrastructure been taken a decade earlier, he emphasised.
“Technology is running ahead of us and we need to take hold of it by adopting a proactive and marketable approach,” he said, adding that China was an inspiring model in making strides in the sector.
Alvi said that the digitalisation of financial and banking systems would not only improve the response time but would also ensure transparency in transactions.
He underlined that the pandemic had increased the importance of access to broadband services manifold, particularly in the areas of education and health.
He reiterated that online learning was still the cheapest source of knowledge, adding that he was in touch with universities to encourage distant education along with the traditional brick-and-mortar setups to increase the number of graduates.
He expressed satisfaction that 50% of the country’s population had access to broadband services.
The president said that the forum would promote constructive dialogue on increasing broadband proliferation, which would lead to the launch of 5G services in Pakistan.
On the occasion, Ministry of IT and Telecommunication Secretary Muhammad Sohail Rajput said that without an effective broadband infrastructure, the dream of Digital Pakistan would be difficult to achieve.
He said that the government was focusing on providing incentives to the private sector for enhancing broadband capacity and thus contributing to the gross domestic product (GDP) growth.
Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL) President and Group CEO Hatem Bamatraf said that broadband internet had a great impact on the digital economy and provided an opportunity to overcome business challenges complemented by cellular communication.
Pakistan’s IT sector had an immense potential for growth in areas of broadband, cloud computing and analytics management, he said.
He emphasised the need for “digital deepening” in the country driven by an economic approach.
Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) Chairman Amir Azeem Bajwa said that the forum was a step towards deliberating upon augmentation of broadband infrastructure, data analytics, spectrum management, and emerging technologiesPakistan had received international accolades in the IT sector with 107 million broadband subscriptions and 186 million cellular service subscribers, he revealed, adding that broadband data usage increased 52% during 2020.
The forum with a theme of “Broadband for All” was jointly organised by the PTA and Huawei Technologies Pakistan, which brought together local and foreign stakeholders for insight into transformative technologies and viable solutions to challenges.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 11th, 2021.