Collaborative Investment Opportunities In ICT To Boost Pakistan’s Economy


Yaseen Khan

Assistant Director

Zonal Office PTA, Peshawar.

Collaboration serves as the catalyst to ignite the flames of digital transformation and propel the fourth industrial revolution forward. In today's interconnected world, the pivotal role of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in driving a country's economic growth cannot be overstated. However, the true potential of ICT to fuel prosperity and innovation lies in collaborative investment initiatives. By joining forces, stakeholders can not only unlock new avenues of growth but also mitigate the costs associated with traditional sectoral approaches.

In a country like Pakistan, with population exceeding 240 million and a youthful demographic, collaborative investment can play an immense role in driving sustainable economic development. Various sectors present ripe opportunities for collaborative investments, including expanding digital infrastructure through public-private partnerships, fostering the growth of platform economies akin to Alibaba and Amazon, and local manufacturing of low-cost handsets with advanced features. By leveraging the collective efforts of Mobile Device Manufacturers (MDM), Telecom Regulators, Government Bodies, and Cellular Service Providers (CSP), Pakistan can position itself as a hub for technological innovation and digital inclusion. Additionally, the development of 3G/4G offloading zones through collaboration among CSPs, government entities, and the IT industry can further accelerate the nation's digital agenda and enhance connectivity for all.

One of the key avenue is to connect the unconnected and promote digital inclusion through the expansion of digital infrastructure via public-private partnership (PPPs). By utilizing the expertise and resources of both the public and private sectors deployment of fiber optic networks, high-speed internet connectivity can be accelerated to not only enhance the connectivity but to build a solid foundation for adopting high end technologies like 5G, Smart Cities, IoT networks, etc. for boosting the thriving digital economy. The Universal Service Fund (USF) Pakistan role is crucial in this regard, as it plays a pivotal role in extending network coverage to unserved areas, ensuring that individuals deprived of basic communication necessities are included in the digital revolution.

Furthermore, investment in green energy infrastructure is essential to sustain the operations of digital communication networks and reduce reliance on traditional power sources. This can not only ensure continuous connectivity but also align with the efforts to combat climate change and promote sustainable development.

Another promising area for collaborative investment is to build platform to leverage the gain of platform economies. For the purpose no re-invention of wheel is required as there are proven examples of giants like Amazon and Alibaba with annual turnover of hundreds of billion US$. It will help to provide support to local entrepreneurs and will act as bridge to showcase local made products across the globe. It will also enable capable individuals even from sub-urban and rural areas to utilize their skills in boosting their quality of life while contributing to national economy.

Collaborative efforts are also required in lowering down the cost of business in parallel with exploring new avenues to improve the business market and increasing the profitability of existing players. One use case is to invest in the manufacturing of low-cost handset capable of supporting 4g and VoLTE through mutual efforts of CSPs, Regulatory Bodies, and Tax Agencies to upscale the level of all mobile users in the country. This will help to increase the sunset of older technologies while improving the quality of services of end users. It will reduce the cost of operating traditional 2G/3G network and will also help in optimizing the use of spectrum for high end technologies resulting in better user experience and high spectral efficiency.

It will be a win-win situation for both the user and the operator and will elevate Pakistan position in broadband ranking.

In addition, Pakistan can capitalize on its vacant spectrum by further auctioning it to adopt cutting-edge technologies like 5G, employing a business-centric approach such as a pay-as-you-grow model. With a late-mover advantage in the auctioning and deployment of 5G networks, Pakistan has the opportunity to learn from international best practices and leverage existing use cases to devise a spectrum auction model that maximizes profitability for both stakeholders and enhances the overall telecom ecosystem. By implementing an innovative auctioning model, it can be ensure that the model is lucrative enough to attract substantial investment from CSP who in return can have a better reliable network with improved Average Revenue Per User (ARPU).

One of the area of investment opportunities especially in metropolitan cities is to deploy 3G/4G offloading zone in crowded places like Hospitals, Malls, and Parks to offload network traffic to Wi-Fi networks that will eventually improve the end user experience and cellular resources. Wi-Fi offloading can help local business by showing advertisement to end users on their landing page this will enable to approach customer available within their circle.

In essence, collaborative investment is the new norm in expediting the nation’s economic growth and to foster innovation and digital inclusion.