Workshop on effective use of ICTs for development held
Pakistan Software Export Board (PSEB) and Ministry of IT organised a full day workshop on effective use of ICTs for development with Professor Tim Unwin, UNESCO Chair in ICT4D, at National IT Board in Islamabad. The workshop included four sessions on local content development, collaboration with international research partners, competition policy, and emerging business models. The opening session included speeches from Professor Tim Unwin, UNESCO Chair in ICT4D, Azmat Ali Ranjha, Secretary IT, and Dr Ismail Shah, Chairman PTA. PSEB also showed a documentary it has produced to promote the IT industry of Pakistan which was very much appreciated by the audience.
Professor Unwin talked about how ICTs can be used to improve the lives of the marginalized sections of society. However, he also mentioned that economic growth can lead to more inequality in societies. Dr Ismail Shah talked about how PTA is working with operators to create new mobile applications for the disabled and handicapped. Secretary IT highlighted some of the significant achievements of Ministry of IT over the last couple of years including exponential growth in broadband users, 40 percent growth in IT remittances, launch of nine USF projects in underserved areas at a cost of Rs 20 billion and implementation of e-office suite at the Ministry.
During the discussion on local content development, Professor Unwin spoke about how local content applications can be used to reach out to the rural population who cannot understand English content, and he advocated the development of mobile applications for agriculture in Urdu and other local languages. Also, because rural people cannot afford to pay for applications and content, government can play a role in sponsorship and development of such applications for free distribution to the rural segments of the society. This was followed by a discussion on collaboration for research with international partners. Professor Unwin talked about the different partnership models and how local organisations can partner with international research agencies for research and development.
The post-lunch session started with a discussion on the role of government and regulation in the growth of the ICT sector. Professor Unwin mentioned that less regulation can trigger economic growth and lead to more taxes from the wider economy.