PREES RELEASE: Pakistan Software Export Board (PSEB) and Ministry of IT organized 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, Mr. 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% 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 organizations 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. However, too much competition can trigger price wars and hurt profitability of investors. The last workshop covered a discussion on emerging business models where Professor Unwin talked about OTT (over-the-top) applications such as Skype, WhatsApp, Facebook, etc. Although OTT is often seen as hurting revenues of telcos, innovative telcos can develop new business models for continued growth and come up with new ways of generating revenue by bundling OTT with other services. The workshop was also attended by MD PSEB, ED NITB, Member HR, and Member Telecom from Ministry of IT, and guests from different ministries, IT and telecom companies, and academia. Ministry of IT plans on inviting more international speakers in future to talk about emerging trends in IT and telecom as well as to educate these visitors about Pakistans high growth potential in IT.