Capitalising on ICT market

ACCORDING TO the Global Information Technology Report, recently released by the World Economic Forum (WEF), Pakistans ranking in ICT has declined to 105th from its 102nd registered in 2012. And there are strong indications that it may further go down in the wake of persistent absence of any foreign direct investments and approach to effectively tap the ICT potential into a job market. This pathetic positioning in the world ICT markets is enough to foster doubts about more negative impacts on the overall ICT infrastructure triggering dismay and gloom. The report clearly indicates that Pakistan is completely failing to translate ICT investments into tangible benefits in terms of competitiveness, development and employment. An analytical study concludes that the governments inability to procure advance technologies has placed the country at 109th position this year as compared to 91 in 2012. At the same time, there are strong chances that the governments slackness in achieving sustained rapid economic growth may put the countrys ICT-competitiveness in jeopardy. The governments failure to create social impact through ICT also portrays its poor understanding of innovation ecosystem and value creation for the citizens in the digital age. As other states are improving rapidly in terms of ICT progress, Pakistan could post a little change which has put many stake-holders in quandary. For example, Pakistan is getting far behind its neighbouring state of India with 37 points low. It goes without any argument that the economies that fail to implement comprehensive national broadband strategies in actual terms risk losing ground in global competitiveness and may fall behind in the delivery of societal benefits from ICTs. Pakistan during the last decade had achieved significant gains, however, these achievements evaporated chiefly due to the lack of advancements and inconsistency in official decision making to adopt new technologies. Inability to improve any regulations on venture capital availability and lack of correlation between innovation and competiveness with finance have contributed a lot in discouraging Pakistan from moving towards a knowledge-based economy. The role of ICT for sustained economic growth and job creation is crucial to improve the countrys competitiveness. The next elected government would definitely confront this challenge as it, in addition to other big tasks, would have to put more emphasis on ICT environment and regulatory framework if the country is to get out of this despondent phase. In order to revive the ICT market and create job market, the government immediately needs to enact effective legislation, which would protect the right to use the internet without unreasonable interference from the government or courts. All this is, of course, not an easy job at a time when the previous governments have opted to remain indifferent towards this important sector.

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