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Produktart: Buch
Verlag: disserta Verlag
Erscheinungsdatum: 03.2020
AuflagenNr.: 1
Seiten: 320
Abb.: 61
Sprache: Englisch
Einband: Paperback


The omnipresent nature of information and communication technologies (ICTs) has rapidly traversed every aspect of human life and is quickly changing the way we communicate and interact with one another. Commercialisation of internet and spread of mobile phones are inspiring both the public and private sectors alike in developing countries in the uptake of ICTs and in provision of electronic public services. Resultantly many societies are going through digital transformations which include technological leapfrogging as well as development of indigenous ICT4D solutions. Such initiatives are in stark contrast with digital advancements taking place in technically advanced countries like those in Europe and North America. Despite massive investment in IT sector, several developing countries are still facing digital and more importantly information divide. This book looks at the changing patterns of ICT4D in Pakistan and discusses the role of ICTs in government by focusing on the era of 2000-2012. The book also focuses on the importance of local knowledge and indigenous culture that play an important role in technological progress and its societal acceptance.


Text sample: Chapter 3.4.1 ICT Developments and Digital Divide in Pakistan (1990 onwards): Pakistan’s population, as stated earlier, mostly comprises rural population. Socio-economic development in Pakistan has been mostly urban- oriented. This disparity has started to become more obvious in terms of public amenities, developmental budgets and modern ICTs such as fixed-line telephony and internet. Increase in population occurred in rural areas whereas development (infrastructural or social) focused more on urban centres. Ratio of population has so far remained 44% (urban) and 56% (rural). From 1990 to 2012, the total population of Pakistan grew from 107 million to 187 million. Telephone network had not covered even 6 million population. In terms of statistics, the expansion of telephone network in 1990 showed 0.8 million subscribers and by 2012 this figure only increased to 5,86 million fixed line subscribers (see Figure 5). This uneven growth has left the rural centres mostly disconnected from rest of Pakistan. Developments in other ICTs, particularly during the post-1990s, such as wireless networks and internet have been speedier than the traditional wired network in Pakistan. In 1996, the government established Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) to regulate, maintain and oversee the provision of telecom services. The teledensity started to increase towards the end of the 1990s particularly. This occurred partially due to deregulation in the telecommunication sector, arrival of internet and mobile network operators. Due to the deregulation policy of the government, new licenses were issued for Long Distance and International (LDI) and Local and Wireless Local Loop (LL, including WLL) services. In the wake of deregulation, PTA started issuing new licenses for data network operators and Internet Service Providers (ISPs). However, as seen in Figure 5, these developments were still not sufficient to help bridge the digital gap (at least in terms of fixed line telephone) between rural and urban Pakistan. In order to address the digital divide, government of Pakistan under the Ministry of Information Technology launched Universal Service Fund (USF) towards the end of 2006. USF works in collaboration with public and private telecommunication companies which contribute 1.5% of their adjusted revenues whereas the government acts as a facilitator and does not pay any financial contribution in the fund. The idea of the USF particularly focuses on the rural areas in order to increase the level of telecom penetration in the unserved and under-served areas through the provision of local loops and rural voice and broadband communications. Under its rural telecom programme, USF launched development of ICT infrastructure project in 26 various districts. To expand USF’s scope and infrastructural network, public sector organisation PTCL (Pakistan Telecommunication Limited) along with other private mobile network operators including Mobilink, Ufone, Telenor and Warid Telecom have been continuously participating in ICT infrastructure projects all across rural Pakistan. On the other hand, to generate a trickle-down effect of USF initiative for the rural communities, PTA also proposed a rural telecentre project named Rabta Ghar that aimed to establish 400 telecentres throughout the country. The telecentres are multipurpose which are run by a private individual and include the computer access, fax, printing, telephone and broadband internet services. In terms of investment, during the decade of 2000-2010, in years 2006 and 2007 Pakistan saw a strong foreign investment of USD 1,905 and 1,824 million respectively in the telecom sector (the highest during that decade). Exponential growth in the telecom sector eventually resulted in the creation of 80,000 to 500,000 jobs directly or indirectly. The telecom sector constituted 2 percent of Pakistan’s GDP increase every year (with an expectation of 2009-10). The deregulation in telecommunication sector paved way to multiple mobile network operators to apply for licenses and these also included foreign companies such as Warid Telecom and Telenor. Pakistan’s political situation also impacted (both positively and negatively) its foreign trade and foreign direct investment during this period. It was a time when Musharraf’s military rule ended in 2008 and the civil government was formed after a gap of 10 years. During transition from military to civilian rule, foreign direct investments momentarily saw fluctuations which also impacted the telecom sector (see Table 3). With an exception of 2009, between 2004 through 2011, the telecom share in foreign direct investment in Pakistan has remained 22 plus % with the highest being in 2005-06 (see Table 3). As a result of these investments, mobile phone penetration has been growing at exponential rates. From two mobile network operators in 1990s to as many as five operators in 2005 brought massive modern digital infrastructure projects to Pakistan. This also triggered a tough competition among operators. These factors directly impacted the price of per minute call and per SMS. As a consequence, the lower prices of call/SMS factor started to take the mobile phone market outside the urban centres into the rural belts as the affordability of mobile phones eased it into lives of rural Pakistan. This resulted in massive digital leapfrogging as mobile phone penetration grew much more compared to the fixed line phone subscription in Pakistan. If the Figure 5 is reanalysed we see that the commercialisation of internet did not hugely impact the fixed-line telephone subscriptions and these only saw a meagre increase between 2000 to 2004. Between 2004 through 2012 the total number of fixed-line phone subscribers have not seen any significant increase or decrease. However, if the Figure 5 is reviewed with an additional variable, that is, with an addition of mobile phone subscription, we see that a dramatic impact of mobile phones usage in Pakistan’s both rural and urban market. Fluctuating between 0.5 million to 1.0 mobile subscribers in 2001 to 2003, we see that the mobile subscription was less than fixed phone line subscription. However, within a span of one year, mobile subscription starts to take a steep curve beginning 2004. The competition between local and foreign mobile network operators further helped this geographical outreach. It took three years from 2004 through 2007 to expand the mobile phone coverage to the urban centres. By 2012, that is, after five more years the mobile network operators managed to reach almost all of rural Pakistan (see Figure 6). Government backed USF initiative and mobile phone companies own financial interests were the major factors of this enormous digital outreach. This scenario is eventually helping the entire telecommunication landscape in Pakistan not only in terms of connectivity but also the electronic services that can be provided via mobile phones as we shall see in the following chapters. In further addressing the digital divide, a number of other digital infrastructure-related projects initiated by private digital communication companies including the ones by the internet service providers had also been started between 2000 and 2010. From a copper wire telephone line, Pakistan has been quickly shifting towards faster networks such as those run on fibre optic cables. For instance, in 2006 a private company named Nayatel introduced Pakistan’s first high speed internet network, fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) network in the capital Islamabad with plans to further expand to other cities. Similarly, mobile phone networks have also quickly shifted from 2G to 3G networks and with the introduction of 4G networks voice, video, and data services are more readily available than ever via mobile phones. In order to expand the telecommunication growth, government also reduced prices of internet as well in order to promote the broadband internet access. On the other hand, post 2000, cable operators have also started offering voice, video and data services for which Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has been issuing license acquisitions. Developments in ICT sector have also directly influenced the banking industry in Pakistan. Historically, Pakistan has not been a cashless and card-based society. Due to uneven growth in rural and urban sectors as well as the presence of informal financial sector has modelled the consumer habits on a cash-based economy in Pakistan. Till 2000, there was not even a provision of electronic bank transfers in Pakistan. In 2002, the government announced the first Electronic Transaction Ordinance that enabled banks and electronic commerce activities to take place in Pakistan. This let Pakistan’s electronic banking sector make a late entry but there has been a steady progress as banks and local internet websites have started developing different products and services. The State Bank of Pakistan’s figures from 2007-08 revealed that e-banking transactions in Pakistan had reached 30.1 million amounting to PKR 3.4 trillion. Similarly, the provision of e-banking also promoted the use of cashless banking and by 2012, the total number of plastic cards (for electronic transactions) reached up to 16.6 million. This also had an impact on the growth of ATM machines. The total number of ATM machines by 2012 had reached over 5,548. The number of Point of Sale (POS) terminals which makes debit card payments possible were recorded as well over 4 million amounting to Rs. 21.05 billion. Similarly, around 7 million transactions on other e-banking channels such as through POS, the Internet, call centre/Interactive Voice Response or IVR, and mobiles were recorded.

Über den Autor

Hasnain Bokhari, Ph.D. was born in Lahore in 1980. He studied Public Policy (2006, Erfurt University), Computer Science (2004, Bahria University). Between 2012 and 2017 he worked as Assistant Professor (Wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter) at the Chair of Muslim Cultural and Religious History, University of Erfurt where his projects dealt with the issues of internet politics (funded by the DAAD) and peace education (funded by the German Federal Foreign Office (GFO)). Since 2011 he has been teaching at the Willy Brandt School of Public Policy, Erfurt University. His research interests include ICT4D, eGovernment, Sustainable Development and in this context, he is also associated with the Centre for Development Informatics, University of Manchester, UK.

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