Internet access: 165m people in Pakistan remain offline -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Internet access: 165 million people in Pakistan remain offline: World Bank

Pakistan Press Foundation

The internet remains unavailable, inaccessible, and unaffordable to a majority of the world’s population including in Pakistan where 165 million population remains offline, says the World Bank (WB). India has offline population of 1.063 billion, China 755 million, Indonesia 213 million and Bangladesh 148 million.

According to the WB report “World Development Report 2016: Digital Dividends,” authored by Co-Directors, Deepak Mishra and Uwe Deichmann and team, total global population stands at 7.4 billion including 7 billion within mobile coverage, 5.2 billion with mobile phones, 3.2 billion total internet users and 1.1 billion have access to high-speed internet.

The report says that while the internet, mobile phones and other digital technologies are spreading rapidly throughout the developing world, the anticipated digital dividends of higher growth, more jobs, and better public services have fallen short of expectations, and 60 percent of the world’s population remains excluded from the ever-expanding digital economy.

Mobile phones in Pakistan allow farmers to shift to more perishable but higher return cash crops areas, reducing post harvest losses from the most perishable crops by 21-35 percent. The impacts of reduced information asymmetries tend to be larger when learning about information in distant markets or among disadvantaged farmers who face more information constraints. Digital technologies make the largest difference when learning about information in distant markets or among disadvantaged farmers who face more information constraints.

In Pakistan, the automation of systems in the central bank made 3,000 of 12,000 employees’ redundant (mostly low-skilled staff). The savings boosted the salaries of remaining employees. Two-thirds of all jobs could be susceptible to automation in developing countries in coming decades, from a pure technological standpoint.

According to the report the benefits of rapid digital expansion have been skewed towards the wealthy, skilled, and influential around the world, which are better positioned to take advantage of the new technologies. In addition, though the number of internet users world-wide has more than tripled since 2005, four billion people still lack access to the internet.

“Digital technologies are transforming the worlds of business, work, and government,” said Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank Group. “We must continue to connect everyone and leave no one behind because the cost of lost opportunities is enormous. But for digital dividends to be widely shared among all parts of society, countries also need to improve their business climate, invest in people’s education and health, and promote good governance.”

Although there are many individual success stories, the effect of technology on global productivity, expansion of opportunity for the poor and middle class, and the spread of accountable governance has so far been less than expected. Digital technologies are spreading rapidly, but digital dividends – growth, jobs and services – have lagged behind.

“The digital revolution is transforming the world, aiding information flows, and facilitating the rise of developing nations that are able to take advantage of these new opportunities,” said Kaushik Basu, World Bank Chief Economist. “It is an amazing transformation that today 40 percent of the world’s population is connected by the internet. While these achievements are to be celebrated, this is also occasion to be mindful that we do not create a new underclass. With nearly 20 percent of the world’s population unable to read and write, the spread of digital technologies alone is unlikely to spell the end of the global knowledge divide.”

Business Recorder