Is Pakistan Ready for Digital Revolution?

Is Pakistan Ready for Digital Revolution?

CSS 2020 Solved Essays | Is Pakistan Ready for Digital Revolution?

Quiraat Khan, a Sir Syed Kazim Ali student, has attempted the CSS 2020 essay “Is Pakistan Ready for Digital Revolution?” on the given pattern, which Sir Syed Kazim Ali teaches his students. Sir Syed Kazim Ali has been Pakistan’s top English writing and CSS, PMS essay and precis coach with the highest success rate of his students. The essay is uploaded to help other competitive aspirants learn and practice essay writing techniques and patterns to qualify for the essay paper.

Outline

1-Introduction

Pakistan’s precarious economic state and weak human capital often hijack its prospects for development. However, the efforts reflected in the success of digital policies, the construction of technological infrastructure, and investments in skill development are developing a conducive environment for digitalization in the country, making Pakistan ready for the digital revolution.

2-Understanding the pre-requisites for the digital revolution

  • ✓Digital infrastructure
  • ✓Skill development or digital literacy
  • ✓Public-private partnership
  • ✓Policymaking 

3-Pakistan’s contemporary industrial state

4-Factors proving that Pakistan is ready for a digital revolution

4.1-Political

  • Developing policies to assist technology transfers
  • Case in Point: Adoption of Digital Pakistan Policy in 2018
  • Drafting laws to make a conducive environment for digitalization
  • Case in Point: Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act 2016
  • Facilitating IT sector development
  • Case in Point: Issuance of tax credit incentives for PSEB (Pakistan Software Export Base) IT startups

4.2-Economic

  • Developing digital infrastructure
  • Case in Point: 820 and 6299 km long optic fibre line – CPEC
  • Spreading private digital businesses
  • Case in Point: E-commerce platforms, setting the stage for digitization of markets.

4.3-Social

  • Improving literacy rate
  • Case in Point: 0.99 per cent increase in literacy rate since 2018
  • Increasing adoption of internet services       
  • Case in Point: Internet penetration, increased from 2 per cent to 30 per cent in the last four years- invest Pakistan.
  • Investing in digital skill development
  • Case in Point: Positive attitude among various populations observed about digital technologies – Digital Now a Guide to Pakistan’s Digital Transformation
  • Case in Point: Pakistan’s technical and vocational education and training program 

 5-On what grounds do critics argue that Pakistan is not ready for a digital revolution?

  • Economic doldrums impede prospects of digital development.
  • Refute: High IT exports
  • Evidence: IT exports have increased by 70 per cent in the last three years. Board of Investment Pakistan
  • Lack of competent human capital to facilitate the digital revolution. 
  • Refute: Rising freelance economy
  • Evidence: 20,000 IT graduates and engineers are produced each year, with the current number of IT professionals standing at 300,000 in the country

6-Critical Analysis

7-Conclusion

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Technological advancements and innovations, sweeping across the world as industrial revolutions, are cherished and adopted by countries worldwide. As many countries have mastered the first three industrial revolutions, they now seek to integrate the fourth wave of the digital revolution into the political, social, and economic systems. Similarly, Pakistan aspires to incorporate digitalization in the country, for which Pakistan is earnestly working to build a conducive environment to facilitate the force of the digital revolution. To elaborate, the country has launched a digital policy in 2018 that provides numerous incentives for businesses, organizations, and individuals’ digital growth. Additionally, CPEC and private sector investments are channeled to construct digital infrastructure. Moreover, an extension of vocational training and widening access to internet usage and digital tools is ensured through multiple tech-based educational programs to empower the large youth of Pakistan. Despite the developments, some analysts argue that Pakistan’s precarious economic state and weak human capital often hijack its prospects for development; however, proponents of this argument fail to comprehend that Pakistan has already entered the fold of the digital economy with its IT exports increasing by 70 per cent in the last three years and the country becoming the fourth most prominent hub of freelancers in the world. Thus, it can be aptly said that the developments and efforts have created a favourable environment for the whole proliferation of the digital revolution. The essay further explains how Pakistan is ready for the digital revolution.

To begin with the discussion, it is essential to understand the digital revolution and how a country can be ready for its adoption. So, the digital revolution refers to the fourth wave of the industrial revolution supported by technological innovations and Information Technology (IT) advancement, mainly in the economic and administration systems. Further, for a country to adopt the digital revolution successfully, it is crucial to fulfil the prior criteria that would assist in creating a feasible environment for the proliferation of digital technologies. According to the article by the World Economic Forum, “The development of digital policies and laws, digital infrastructure, sound economic support, and skills advancements are critical areas for countries to work on to facilitate the digital revolution.” These developments are part and parcel of the digital revolution. With these efforts and developments, the proliferation of digital businesses, tech startups, and the inclusion of technology in the economic and administrative sectors can be expedited. For example, India’s digital rise stands upon the feasibility created for digital innovation. Thus, the creation of a favourable environment is crucial for the digital revolution.

Moving forward towards Pakistan, the country has successfully integrated the previous industrial revolutions by establishing various industrial units since its inception. Over the years, production has accelerated and made the country a competitive player in international trade. To illustrate, Pakistan is a competent provider of textile and sports goods globally. In 2022, the contribution of industrial production to the GDP stood at 19.82 per cent. However, to explore the zenith of the production capacities, the country is now exploring new methods supported by digital technologies. Hence, Pakistan is working on numerous political, economic, and social measures to develop a viable environment and prepare the country for digitalization.

Recognizing the significance of policy development to promote new ventures and ideas, the first one is that Pakistan has drafted policies that would assist in easing and spreading digital tools and technology. For example, the Digital Pakistan Policy was developed in 2018 to facilitate the deployment of digital technologies for socio-economic well-being and encourage IT sector investments. The policy is a significant step in outlining Pakistan’s vision and objectives towards digitalization. Furthermore, such policies largely support private investments, encouraging the private sector to adopt new technological means readily. Therefore, Pakistan’s policymaking efforts toward developing an encouraging digital environment make the country ready for the digital revolution.

Further, with the proliferation of digital activities, the threat of cyber and digital crime becomes more profound. Thus, addressing the measures effectively at the proper time is vital. Being aware of the repercussions, Pakistan has progressively addressed the menace. For example, the country passed the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act (PECA) 2016, which addresses the regulations for different criminal activities related to digital space and technology. The act would assist in setting the stage for future regulations and laws as digital space develops in the country. Therefore, the cultivation of the law showcases Pakistan’s farsightedness and commitment towards the development of digitalization.

Next, it is crucial to provide incentives to encourage the transfer of technology from foreign sources and facilitate domestic business. Therefore, Pakistan is effectively working towards creating ease for tech-enabled companies and organizations. For example, tax incentives are provided, such as tax credits for Pakistan Software Export Base IT startups. These measures encourage foreign investors to set up businesses in Pakistan, facilitating the exchange of technology from the developed countries. Hence, the number of benefits for ventures reiterates Pakistan’s readiness to adopt digital adopting.

Besides policy development, providing digital infrastructure is essential for creating a futile ground for digitalization. In this regard, Pakistan is working with the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor stakeholders to offer logistical support for digital infrastructure. For example, CPEC has envisioned an 820-kilometre-long fiber optic cable project around Gilgit Baltistan and 6299 long kilometers of underwater cable extending from Gwadar to Djibouti, connecting Pakistan to Africa. So, cable is a crucial infrastructure in digital development and would considerably assist kick starting the digital revolution.

Furthermore, the private sector’s setup of digital businesses helps expedite the spread and adoption of digitally enabled experiences. As Pakistan has a broad service sector, the spread of e-commerce platforms like Alibaba and Daraz are accelerating the inclusion of digital mediums in the service sector. More people are opting for virtual shopping experiences, which increases the interaction of people with digital technology and encourages sellers to adopt digital means of selling. For instance, Japan International Corporation Agency invests in teaching social media usage for online retailing. Therefore, such measures create a more expansive space for adequate digitalization support in the service sector.

Besides the economic and administrative efforts for building a conducive environment for digitalization, it is also crucial to invest in the education of the general public so that they assist in the adoption of digital tools and technologies. Fortunately, rising literacy rates in Pakistan and the presence of a bulge in the youth population allow the country to invest effectively in human capital. Since 2018, the literacy rate has improved by 0.99 per cent, highlighting prospects for digital empowerment and education of the people. For example, The ICT for Girls program is working to provide digital education and technology for women in Pakistan. These are positive steps for making Pakistan ready for the digital revolution.

Additionally, for digitalization, the seamless adoption of internet services is essential. Not only does the internet facilitate the transfer of information worldwide, but it is also crucial for conducting business and industrial activity. Unfortunately, the lack of internet services had impeded development in Pakistan earlier. However, the increase in internet penetration from 2 per cent to 30 per cent in the last four years has removed the impediments. According to the report, “Digital Now: a Guide to Pakistan’s Digital Transformation”, “A positive attitude among the public regarding internet use is observed.” The adoption of the internet has significantly ameliorated Pakistan’s dynamics in the complete implementation of digital transformation.

After ensuring viable access and usage of the internet to the general public, the next step for creating a favourable environment for the digital revolution involves teaching digital skills. These skills are necessary for ensuring that people can facilitate the transition to digital space. Hence, Pakistan invests in training through technical and vocational education programs that teach new skills. Hence, the country is also encouraging sound minds to earn proficiency in the STEM fields that are crucial to support digital transformation.

Despite Pakistan’s earnest efforts to create a favourable environment for the adoption of the digital revolution, some analysts argue that Pakistan is not ready for the digital revolution due to the precarious economic state of the country. However, they overlook the many factors of policy formation and infrastructure development that are assisting the shift financially and have set the motion for the country’s digital transformation.

To elaborate, IT exports have increased by 70 per cent in the last three years, signifying that the efforts made by Pakistan in adopting digital technologies are bearing fruit. Hence, increasing IT exports proves that Pakistan is ready for the digital revolution.

Adding more to it, the argument that Pakistan has weak human capital is also rendered false as more people are opting for tech-centric education to enter the high-potential freelancing and startup markets through which many people are working remotely from Pakistan for agencies in the developed world, thus, encouraging more people to learn digital skills and pursue IT degrees. According to the Board of Investment, “20,000 IT graduates and engineers are produced each year, with the current number of IT professionals standing at 300,000 in the country.” So, these individuals can significantly assist in the creation of digital Pakistan.

Although Pakistan faces many challenges in contemporary times, the force of digitalization has entered the country’s borders. Despite the hurdles, the government is focusing on digitally powered policies and digital administration, as evidenced by adopting electronic voting machines for elections and conducting the first digital senses in 2023. Critically, these measures are positive steps for not only starting a digital revolution but also for mitigating the political and economic impediments that the country faces. Thus, Vision 2025 of Pakistan heavily focuses on digitalization.

In conclusion, Pakistan’s commitment towards creating favourable conditions for the digital revolution reiterates the country’s readiness for digitalization. Realizing the potential of digital technology to address the social and economic challenges and its merits in creating transparency in the political system, Pakistan is working to integrate technological innovations and advancements in the country. For this reason, the country has promulgated digital policies and laws. Further, the country is utilizing the CPEC projects to build digital infrastructure, energy infrastructure and roads necessary for accelerating digitalization. Additionally, the country invests in human development by promoting the adoption of digital technology and widening access to digital skills for people with the assistance of local and foreign non-profit organizations. Thus, Pakistan has progressively created a conducive atmosphere for kick starting the digital revolution as the country has developed digital policies that facilitate the development of digital infrastructure and cash the bulge of educated youth increasingly acquiring digital skills, thereby making Pakistan ready for the digital revolution.

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