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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan is not performing well on some of the key indicators in the telecom sector including gender gap, public and use of open data, E-commerce legislation, and internet shopping and hence lagging behind neighbouring countries, revealed the official documents of the Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication.

The documents available with Business Recorder revealed that Pakistan has been ranked 97th/130 in Network Readiness Index 2021 (NRI 2021), showing an improvement of 14 positions since 2020, where it was ranked 111/134.

In 2021, out of 130-countries assessed against four pillars, Pakistan is at 73rd position in Technology in 2021 showing an improvement from 97th rank in 2020, followed by impact 92, governance 108, and people 105.

Pakistan has done well in mobile tariffs (65th) international bandwidth (16th), adoption of emerging technologies (68th), investment in emerging technologies (49th), annual investment in telecom service (42nd), active mobile subscribers (9th), ICT regulatory environment (57th), ICT services export (34th). However, indicators including gender gap (91), public and use of open data (100), E-commerce legislation (112) and internet shopping (120) are some of the not so well performing indicators of Pakistan.

Digital Pakistan Vision: 13-member IMT/5G tech advisory panel to be set up

In Asia and Pacific, Pakistan is ranked 18th and lags behind other countries.

The documents revealed that the government of Pakistan through the Ministry of IT and Telecom and Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) have taken several initiatives to improve the ICT indicators in Pakistan. Especially gender inclusion has been an area of concern and the MoIT/PTA are working on it.

In this regard, the MoIT has reenergized the ICT for girls, and ITU initiative.

The PTA has rigorously taken up the matter and is in the process of devising digital inclusion strategy and will be launching digital accessibility projects with Telecom Operators and international telecom organizations like A4AI and GSMA.

Further, availability of public WIFI is another area in which PTA is working and in this regard access to broadband at the airports is being ensured in addition to public areas such as malls and markets.

The government is working on improving cyber security in the country and has recently announced National Cyber Security Policy, 2021. E-commerce Policy 2019, Cross Boarder B2C Regulatory Frame-work, 2020 are steps in improving the e-commerce eco-system in Pakistan. The Draft Data Protection Bill, 2021 will also help improve Pakistan ranking in NRI, the documents revealed.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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