Also, Pakistan is a global best practice example for how to take the money languishing in Universal Service Fund (USF) and put it to use in connecting people to opportunity,” Kamil Hasan, Intel’s Director Channel Operations for Asia-Pacific.
Universal Service Fund, established by the government, promotes the development of telecommunication services in un-served and underserved areas across the country. The fund consists of contributions (1.5 per cent of adjusted revenues) by telecom operators with no government funding.
Stressing that Pakistan is moving in the right direction, Hasan said that the influx of information technology (IT) institutions which focus on acquisition and propagation of ICT (information and communications technology) in education has resulted in qualified computer scientists, software engineers as well as IT managers who in turn would be instrumental in boosting technological know-how.
He added that the government has been successful in introducing e-governance in many public sector organisations, top examples being the National Database and Registration Authority and the Federal Board of Revenue.
Despite this, many challenges still lie ahead. One of these is the low literacy rate as people living in underserved communities and rural areas get little or no access to quality education and hence are unaware of the benefits of technology deployment. “There is no dearth of local talent, the need is to channel it in the right direction coupled with a strong sustainable policy framework,” he said.
To overcome the barrier, Intel Pakistan has hosted interactive workshops, seminars, exhibitions and other events in an attempt to promote awareness.
As per the 2009 ICT Index, Pakistan is ranked 127 from a total of 154 countries. “Pakistan lacks sustainable IT policies compared with some other countries,” he said, adding “Asia-Pacific countries like Malaysia, Indonesia and most recently Bangladesh are growing at a very fast pace.”
IT educationExpressing satisfaction, Hasan said exponential growth has been witnessed in quality IT educational institutions in Pakistan which would certainly lead to human resource development at par with any developing country in the region.
“Education is the key to bridging the digital divide between Pakistan and the modern technological world. Technology enables people to lead more productive and rewarding lives. Computers are great learning tools and should be made available in schools across the country to assist our youth,” he said.