November 17, 2019

Mobile Is Accelerating Digital Transformation in Pakistan, Says GSMA Report

"Mobile technology is at the heart of digital transformation in Pakistan driving social development and economic growth," explains a report by GSMA Intelligence, the research arm of the GSMA, a UK-based industry association. "Digital transformation is underway in the country, with government and public institutions as well as private and development organizations using digital platforms to increase engagement and improve service delivery to its citizens."

The power of mobile to accelerate digital transformation in Pakistan discusses the following:
  • Pakistan government socioeconomic aspirations in context;
  • Digital transformation in Pakistan and the role of mobile technology;
  • Mobile technology contribution to social and economic progress in Pakistan; and
  • Opportunities ahead to accelerate the impact of mobile-enabled digital transformation on socioeconomic progress.

Based on my experience of working in developing countries such as Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, and Iraq, I concur that a "knowledge-based economy is built on the foundation of common access to fast, reliable and affordable digital content and services by individuals, businesses and public institutions." The report notes that in "Pakistan, this is primarily enabled by mobile technology, which now provides access to digital services for more people in the country than any other communications technology; 70% of internet users in Pakistan only ever access the internet on a mobile phone."

The report further says: "Rising smartphone adoption means more people are able to use feature-rich and IP-based digital content on their mobile devices, mitigating the challenge of much lower penetration of PCs and other data-enabled devices. The Pakistan Citizens Portal, which connects government organizations both at federal and provincial levels, is powered by smartphone apps on the Android and iOS platforms, so can be accessed by people on mobile devices."

Moreover, "In addition to internet connectivity, mobile technology enables cellular IoT (Internet of Things) connectivity for a variety of personal and industrial devices. Currently, IoT applications in Pakistan include solar-powered home solutions enabling off-grid rural households to power electronic devices; on-board diagnostics (OBD) devices for fleet management; and IoT solutions integrated with vehicle and motorcycle insurance products to reduce theft. In future, cellular IoT connectivity and services will play a vital role in implementing smart city solutions, which can help governments at different levels to cope with rapid urbanization and improve security services."

The report's key findings include:
  • Mobile broadband networks now cover 80 percent of the population and 97 percent of internet connections are mobile;
  • Pakistan has nearly 700,000 cellular IoT connections across areas including agriculture, clean energy and safe water solutions;
  • Mobile technology is the primary channel for digital financial services, digital birth registration initiatives, digital health solutions and digital learning;
  • Mobile operators and the ecosystem also provided direct employment to around 320,000 people in Pakistan in 2018;
  • The mobile ecosystem in Pakistan plays an increasingly important role in economic growth, contributing around $16.7 billion, equivalent to 5.4 percent of GDP; and
  • Enablement of digital ecosystem is largely supported by timely policy interventions for the facilitation and enablement of the industry and most importantly the end-user.

What mobile products or services do you think should be developed to help accelerate Pakistan's digital transformation?

Aaron Rose is a board member, corporate advisor, and co-founder of great companies. He also serves as the editor of GT Perspectives, an online forum focused on turning perspective into opportunity.

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