The GSMA has released a new report on the state of the mobile industry in Pakistan. The report concludes that the country’s digital transformation is already taking place, and advocates for an ongoing collaboration between public and private institutions.
“The government and the private sector must work together to deliver the promise of a digital Pakistan,” said Pakistan Information Technology and Telecommunication Minister Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui. “The mobile industry is an important partner to deliver transformational change in the digital era and ensure that we bridge the digital divide.”
According to the report, Pakistan’s mobile networks now cover 80 percent of the country’s populations, and account for an astonishing 97 percent of the country’s internet connections. Mobile technology has become the primary delivery vehicle for a range of different services, including digital banking, healthcare, and education. The mobile industry is also an integral component of Pakistan’s economy, employing roughly 320,000 individuals while generating $16.7 billion. That figure represents 5.4 percent of the country’s total GDP.
Moving forward, Pakistan will need to continue to develop its infrastructure to meet the demands of a rapidly growing population. Digital tech is expected to boost financial inclusion and facilitate the distribution of public goods and services. However, smartphone ownership in the country is not yet universal, which could pose a challenge if the issue is not addressed before those services are introduced. Pakistan previously created a biometric registry of cellphone users, though the initiative was unpopular and millions of subscribers dropped their telecom provider as a result.
The new report was released during a meeting between the GSMA and Pakistan’s Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication, as well as representatives from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, the UK Department for International Development, and United Nations Development Programme.