Digital Punjab Conference: E-inclusivity Must for Socio-Economic Development

(left to right): Farooq Iftikhar, President, LCCI; Muhammad Aslam Hayat Khan, Chief Corporate Affairs Officer, Telenor Pakistan; Dr. Farrukh Javed, Punjab Agriculture Minister; Irfan Wahab Khan, Chief Marketing Officer, Telenor Pakistan and Badar Khushnood (1st right), Country Consultant, Google Pakistan

The Digital Punjab Conference, organized by the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) and supported by Telenor Pakistan, was recently held at the Expo Center Punjab. Dignitaries from Ministry of Information Technology & Telecom; Punjab Board of Information Technology; Board of Investment; Ministry of Finance; Ministry of Agriculture and Ministry of Education were present on this occasion.

During his presentation, Irfan Wahab Khan, Chief Marketing Officer, Telenor Pakistan, congratulated LCCI for organizing the conference and lauded the various initiatives of Punjab Government to further strengthen the ICT framework in the province.

He said, “Telenor Pakistan aims to play a pivotal role in government’s efforts to promote e-inclusivity for all to foster socio-economic transformation of Pakistan. Telenor Pakistan has always been at the forefront for bringing people into the communication loop and boosting the social economy with accessible and much needed services. The next spurt of telecom growth worldwide is expected from data rather than voice and in this regard we have been actively promoting safe and responsible use of mobile internet. More than 50 percent of all internet usage in Pakistan is on mobile therefore we feel that it can be a useful catalyst for sustainably changing lives and supporting socioeconomic development.”

He further said that improved accessibility, effective content and appropriate devices may help deliver full benefits of Internet to the entire Pakistani nation including government sector, business community and general public especially youth – which can only be achieved through mutual cooperation of the government and telecom companies.

On this occasion, Muhammad Aslam Hayat Khan, Chief Corporate Affairs Officer highlighted the four areas that may help develop an effective digital infrastructure in Punjab including expanding the access of ICT education, capitalizing on global outsourcing opportunities, facilitating ICT industry and increasing the scope of e-governance – which will not only ensure more access to information but also help in creating innovative opportunities and building a corruption free and prosperous nation.

He expects that the government of Punjab will have a holistic view of the ICT sector, take ownership at the highest level and prepare comprehensive ICT framework. We can support the government in developing technological platforms, providing support on content development, expanding the outreach of services in areas where it is currently not available, developing mobile internet channel to facilitate online transactions, offering immediate connectivity by EDGE/GPRS and later on through mobile broadband.

Earlier, Farooq Iftikhar, President, LCCI delivered the welcome note and highlighted the role of Lahore Shopping Festival-2013 in expediting economic and commercial activities. He further said that all citizens should have access to, and be able to reap the benefits of mobile technology and the internet. This will not only boost socio-economic development, but will also transform the quality of lives.

He lauded some of Telenor Pakistan’s pioneering initiatives including; Easypaisa for establishing an eco-system for mobile financial services in Pakistan aimed at providing financial inclusion to unbanked population; ‘Agriculture Commodity Trade’ enabling farmers to use the Easypaisa platform along with ICT services to perform trade transactions and ‘Telenor TalkShawk Internet Champion’ for educating over 632,000 students all over Pakistan on the safe and responsible use of Internet.

As technology develops, mobile services have the potential to impact economic development further through the provision of high value broadband and telecommunications services. As per a global study, 10% increase in mobile penetration increases Total Factor Productivity (a measure of economic productivity) in the long run by 4.2%.

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