World Telecom Day: State Of ICT Industry in Pakistan

In connection with World Telecom and Information Society Day, Dunya News did a special show to discuss ICT industry and its impact on a common man. Guests included:

  • Najeeb Ullah Malik, Secretary,  Information Technology
  • Dr. Muhammad Yasin, Chairman, PTA
  • Aamir Ibrahim, Chief Strategy Officer and Vice President, Telenor Pakistan

Guests discussed government’s role in policy making, PTA’s role for facilitating the industry and for protecting the consumer right and private sector’s achievements for the betterment of ICT in the country.

Following are five parts of the program that got aired on May 17th, 2010.

Part 1:

Najeeb Ullah Malik briefed that government policies are well in place to facilitate ICT industry at its best. He said that policy framework in Pakistan regarding ICT is very comprehensive, coherent and consistent. Policies in Pakistan are providing a level playing field to ICT companies to provide services in the country at tremendous scale and pace.

Mr. Najeeb discussed how ICT industry in Pakistan is revolutionized through innovative products and how it is enhancing the life style of a common man.

Dr. Yasin said that PTA is not to regulate but its prime objective is to facilitate the industry while keeping in line with the government policies. He said that Pakistan showcased tremendous growth in ICT in recent years, which demonstrates how well authority has facilitated the industry in providing best possible ground for investment and doing businesses.

Aamir Ibrahim, CSO, Telenor Pakistan attributed the boom in ICT as a result of private-public partnership. He said that telecommunication deregulation policy came at the right time – during the years communication has transformed from a luxury tool or a rich boys’ toy to a mass instrument, which is key to growth at all levels.

Part 2:

When asked about the pace of ICT development in Pakistan compared to rest of the world, Mr. Najeeb Ullah Malik said that we are very much on the track. He said that Government is working in 32 different areas that ranges from citizen to entertainment services.

He said that telecom infrastructure in Pakistan is capable of supporting any futuristic service, and very soon all these services (from 32 different areas) are going to be available to a common man.

Secretary Information Technology said that ICT companies operating in Pakistan are second to none, they are very innovative and technically sound – that makes it possible for them to absorb and offer latest possible technologies.

Dr. Yasin explained PTA’s efforts for elimination of illegal SIMs. He said that in 2008 there were 2.8 million mobile users added each month, which left some margin of errors. However, now there are procedures in place now that leave no chance of illegal sale of SIM.

Dr. Yasin didn’t give any time-line for 3G. He said that Authority is waiting for policy from the Government to get things going.

Part 3:

Mr. Aamir Ibrahim emphasized that friendly policies from government, regulator’s facilitation and investment from private sector is optimum combination for phenomenal growth. This is exactly what happened in Pakistan that enabled the masses, not the businesses or the elite only, but everyone to communicate. He said that praise worthy thing about Pakistan is that it has lowest tariff plans in the whole world

Mr. Ibrahim said that telecom companies, in collaboration with PTA, are working on SPAM filters.

Mr. Najeeb Ullah Malik mentioned that government is focused on bridging the digital divide. Mr. Malik acknowledged that digital divide is notable in rural areas, while it’s negligible in cities.

For the purpose he told that Universal Service Fund is playing pivotal role in providing ICT services to un-served or even the under-served community of the country.

Part 4:

Continuing his discussion on digital divide, Mr. Malik said that ICT industry in Pakistan is driven by private sector. The way it has laid down the infrastructure now the next level is to spread the ICT awareness, starting from schools and then onwards. He said that our community needs to be aware of ICT services and applications to truly become a knowledge base society.

Dr. Yasin, Chairman PTA, told that authority introduced consumer protection regulation in 2009. Purpose was to handle SPAM and un-wanted calls. He said that 3 out of 5 operators have implemented their in-house SPAM filters, through which consumer can block un-wanted callers – while rest are in process of implementing these filters, very shortly.

Chairman said that he is very satisfied and proud of telecom operators’ input towards corporate social responsibility.

Mr. Aamir Ibrahim expressed that in future a common man will be able to control his life through mobile phone, meaning that a mobile phone will be controlling the lives. He said that everything will converge over mobile phones, let it be emails, internet, voice, banking, TV channels and so on.

Mr. Aamir explained Easypaisa and described how it is adding value to lives by easing the banking solutions for a common man.

Part 5:

In fifth and final part Aamir Ibrahim continued his discussion on Easypaisa. He said that next big wave, in his opinion, is banking services for the un-banked. He said that Telenor, as a telecom company, has advantage over conventional banks due to its huge retailer network, where customers can avail the banking facility.

He told that 10,000 utility bills are being paid through Easypaisa, while it has served 1 million customers in 6 months of its operations while total transactions valued more than PKR 2 billion.

Dr. Yasin stressed the need of local content and applications. He said that PTA is already working in line for strategic support for content and applications development through seminars, scholarships, partnerships etc.

He said that PTA, for time being, is focusing on innovation in the field of local content. He said there is dire need to maintain entrepreneurship trends – this is how youth can get best benefited out of ICT infrastructure available in the country.

Mr. Najeeb Ullah Malik concluded the discussion by saying that government is reformulating the policies, instead of revising, to meet futuristic demands of the industry.

Tech reporter with over 10 years of experience, founder of ProPakistani.PK