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Pakistan needs to develop digital ecosystem for sustained economic growth: report

Publication: Pakistan Today
Date: April 24, 2014
Web links: http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2014/04/23/national/pakistan-needs-to-develop-digital-ecosystem-for-sustained-economic-growth-report/

NEW YORK

Pakistan needs to ensure technology affordability to businesses and individual consumers, said the Global Information Technology report 2014 of the World Economic Forum (WEF).

At the rank of 111 among 148 countries, Pakistan’s performance has been relatively stable on the Network Readiness Index 2014 of the World Economic Forum (WEF), Pakistan lost six ranks as compared to 2013.

Pakistan showed slight improvement on the business and innovation environment pillar by improving by ranking at 101 as compared to 102 last year. Also on the readiness sub-index it improves from 21 in 2013 to 19 this year. The efficiency of legal system in settling disputes has risen from 109 last year to 112 in 2014. Similarly the efficiency of legal system has also deteriorated from 97 to 108 in 2013 and 2014 respectively.

“One of the key findings of the report is that Pakistan cannot only rely on Information and Communication Technology (ICT) infrastructure development to become competitive. Rather, the benefits of ICT can only be fully derived when a country implements a holistic strategy aimed at creating conditions for skills, innovation and entrepreneurship to flourish alongside modern infrastructure” said Amir Jahangir, chief executive officer of Mishal Pakistan, a country partner institute of the World Economic Forum.

“One of the primary concerns for Pakistan is the lack of data protection laws, this can have medium to long-term impact on the development of a knowledge-based industry fostering innovation and entrepreneurship, a potential Pakistan needs to capitalize due to its demographic potential,” Jahangir added.

The report showed concerns on Pakistan’s human capital development on the skills pillar to improve performance on the network readiness index as the quality of the education system has gone bad to worst 75 (2013) to 84 this year.

An alarming deterioration in the performance in math and science education has also been pointed out where Pakistan stands at 104 now from the ranking of 88 in 2013. The report showed serious efforts required by both the public and private sector on the extent of staff training where it has lost 16 points and the country stands at an alarming 128 rank.

Pakistan has shown improvements in the business and innovation environment pillar, where availability of latest technologies has improved from 83 (2013) to 79 (2014), however, lack of venture capital has dropped 22 points and ranks at 77 this year.

Pakistan is also losing its regional competitiveness advantage on doing business indicators, where No. of days to start a business ranks at 98 and the number of procedures to start a business at 119 now.

The report highlighting the affordability of technology ranks Pakistan as the 10th most affordable cellular serviced country, where as Liberia tops this list with Sri Lanka at 4th, Bangladesh at 5th and India being on 7th globally.
Pakistan ranked number 1 on the Internet and telephone competition globally. On monthly subscription charges for fixed (wired) broadband internet service (PPP $), Pakistan stands on 62 as compared to Sri Lanka being the most affordable (among 148 countries), Bangladesh being at 3rd and India at 4th in the region.
On the businesses usage of technology Pakistan has improved its indicators, where business-to-business usage of Internet has improved from 116 to 104 this year, similarly the business to consumer usage has also gained improvement by securing the position of 103 from 112 last year.

On the government usage of technology Pakistan showed some depressive performance as importance of ICT to government’s vision has gone from 117 in 2013 to 128 in 2014. Similarly, the government in promoting the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) Pakistan was also weak as this year it ranked at 91 from 77 in 2013.

Little progress is being made in bridging the digital divide between technology savvy nations and others, according to the 13th edition of the Global Information Technology Report 2014. The stalling of progress is worrisome for emerging and developing nations, which are at risk of missing out on many positive impacts information and communications technologies (ICT) bring, including increased innovation, economic competitiveness and greater social inclusion.

In the South Asian region, Pakistan was outperformed by Sri Lank at 76, India 83, Bhutan 94, Iran 104, whereas Pakistan was ahead of Bangladesh at 119 and Nepal 123.

Lower down the Index, many large emerging economies continue to struggle to realize their full digital potential. China (62nd), Brazil (69th) and Mexico (79th) and India (83rd) all drop in the rankings. However, countries that have developed a strong vision to develop their ICT capacity do well, such as the United Arab Emirates (24th), Kazakhstan (38th) or Panama (43rd), which all improved.

With this year’s coverage extending to a record 148 economies, the Global Information Technology Report (GITR) report remains one of the most comprehensive and authoritative assessments of the impact of ICT on competitiveness of nations and the well-being of their citizens.

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