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Digital Pakistan

Today’s policymakers have to deal with a digitized environment. Pakistan’s rural areas still do not have proper access to electricity, but the people do have a mobile phone in their hands. With the increased access to cellular phones, policymakers’ meet with a new challenge to ensure that governments, businesses, and individuals are making the best possible use of networks and applications. Countries that have achieved superior degrees of digitiza- tion through mass adoption of connected digital technologies and applicants by consumers, enterprise, and governments have realized substantial gains in their economies, societies, and the performance of their public sectors.

With the advent of new technologies, opportunities for low- and middle-income countries to diversify their economies have emerged, alongside the creation of new jobs, agricultural advancements, and improved levels of health and education. This is proof of the fact that rapid technological advancements affect the lives of citizens to a great extent. Social unrest can emerge if people are not put at the centre of economic and social change. The pace and intensity of change mean it is all the more important that people are at the centre of the digital future, not the technology. In order to avail these opportunities, people need to be rightly equipped. Moreover, they also need to be protected against the harms of the digital age. The responsibility falls upon the governments to make sure that vocational education is truly useful for both workers and businesses in the digital age. Further- more, the private sector can also not be left behind, and it also needs to be involved in keeping the programs up to date.

For the creation of digital products and services, essential components need to be in place, like physical infrastructure, digital identification, mobile money (foundational digital systems), and capital to be invested in innovation. Without these components, existing firms cannot adopt productive technologies, and hence digital entrepreneurs cannot get the space to build and innovate. Having reliable infrastructure means firms and service providers can focus on their core business, without having to build on enabling environment from the beginning.

The biggest challenges to the present and future of the citizens are corruption and inefficiency of the government. Their outdated policies are what bounds the citizens and businesses to advance themselves. It is now high time that governments of developing countries lead by the example of developed nations and transform themselves according to the needs of a digitized world. With the population explosion in the country, Pakistan urgently needs to create massive employment opportunities. Digital economies around the world are disrupting traditional industries, making it difficult for developing countries to compete in a traditional industrial model. For example, automation is making millions of Chinese without jobs. Artificial intelligence has become a threat to national security. These are unprecedented developments that humans could not have predicted years ago.

The good news is that the current government of Pakistan has taken appropriate steps to institutionalize digitization in many sectors, and the initiative is headed by Tania Aidrus, a former Google executive. PM Imran Khan, while expressing his contention with the project said that he has high hopes from the initiative and said that it would enable a lot of women to enter into the workforce. Furthermore, he laid emphasis on the significance of e-governance in today’s day and age of technological advancements.

E-governance, infrastructure development, automation of electrical procedures, legislation, e-commerce, innovative digital payments, performance appraisal of employees, software projects, and local manufacturing, all are a part of the Digital Pakistan Initiative. The project aims to enable the digitization of a number of socio-economic sectors, ranging from agriculture to e-health, to e-energy, e-commerce, and cloud computing and Big Data.

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