Pakistan Steps Up IT Projects Roll-Out in Public Sector

IT projects ranging from automated meter reading and computerized land records management to online education and mobile banking are now at various stages of implementation across Pakistan.  In a report released today, the World Bank calls these projects "unprecedented in the public sector in developing countries". The objective of these efforts is to reduce corruption, increase productivity and improve service delivery in both private and public sectors. Here's a brief description of five key areas where information technology penetration is visible:

1. Automated Meter Reading:

Automatic Meter Reading (AMR) project has been rolled out across the country with the help of United States Agency for International Development (USAID).  It is aimed at reducing power theft which accounts for 20-30% of all power generated in Pakistan. It will provide accurate electronic meter readings with little human intervention, using technology to transmit meter readings data via GSM/GPRS and Radio Frequency. It is expected to help power distribution companies (DISCOs) to monitor electricity consumption trends for different consumer categories, understand demand patterns, reduce electricity losses significantly and increase their revenues. Initial AMR pilots indicate significant reduction of power theft in Lahore.

In addition to automatic reading of consumer meters, smart meters have been installed with the support of USAID on incoming and outgoing feeders at all nine government-owned electric utilities. These will help move toward building of a smart national grid to better manage power generation, transmission and distribution in the country.

2. Mobile Governance:

The Punjab government is deploying smartphone applications to crack down on absentee mobile government workers and their corrupt practices. As part of this project, the government employee must send his or her picture and a report of interaction with citizens along with GPS coordinates. For example, a agricultural pest control official required to visit farmers must file reports of his findings and actions in real time via a smartphone app.

An agricultural field monitor uploads a picture of himself and spotted pests on crops using a smartphone. This data is used to ensure visits happen and create easily-accessible time and spatial data. Source: World Bank
An SMS soliciting feedback from citizens is sent out after each such visit or interaction. Responses from users are logged into a central database, and the data then analyzed and mapped. Call centers have also been trained to contact those who do not respond or are unable to read the text due to illiteracy.More than three million users of public services have so far been contacted since the summer of 2012, with both positive and negative feedback, according to the World Bank report. “Sir, we went to the hospital yesterday. They asked for 1500 rupees [in bribes]. We didn’t have the money so we left,” reads one of the reports about a hospital in Lahore, the provincial capital. The feedback is actively monitored by the office the Chief Secretary – the top civil servant in the province – to manage the performance of officials.

Results of Google-sponsored Survey in Pakistan Source: Express Tribune


3. Computerized Land Records:

Provincial land departments in Pakistan regularly show up as the most corrupt in Transparency International surveys conducted every year. In fact, most Pakistanis refer to the culture of corruption in Pakistan as "patwari culture". For the uninitiated, a patwari is a low level official in the land department responsible for keeping land title records. Corrupt patwaris either deliberately misplace such records or delay issuing land title papers when citizens refuse to pay bribes.  With digitization of such records, citizens will be able to check and confirm titles to lands on a computer screen by entering  their computerized national identity card (CNIC) number. Corrupt patwaris are trying to undermine the computerization project.

4. Education and Training:

Pakistan has been at the forefront of using information technology to increase literacy and offer higher education. A pilot program in the country has demonstrated the effectiveness of pushing mass literacy through the use of cell phone text messaging capability.

A UNESCO has recently also started a post-literacy project in Pakistan based on mobile technology. The Mobile Based Post Literacy program is targeted at young rural women, aged between 15 and 25, by keeping them interested in literacy through the mobile phone.

The concept of virtual instruction is finding its way to K-12 education as well. Increasing number of Pakistanis are drawn to various online sites. Silicon Valley NEDians have launched Learntive, an effort to offer digitized lessons in high-school courses.  Virtual Education for All is a local Pakistani initiative extending the concept to primary level.

Virtual University(VU) and Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU) offer distance learning programs using information technology. Pakistan's Virtual University (VU) has won the Outstanding New Site Award 2012 for an Open CourseWare website which was created in 2011.

5. Mobile Banking:

Combination of growth of mobile phones and ease of mobile money transfers have enabled many Pakistanis to have access to financial services for the first time in their lives.

In a country where only 22% of the population owns bank accounts and more than 70% owns mobile phones, mobile banking is proving to be the fastest way to promote financial inclusion considered by experts to be essential to lift people out of poverty. Benefits include easy access for rural customers to banking services through agents in villages without bank branches, better documentation of the economy, enlarging of the tax-base and efficiency of economic transactions.

Summary: 

Increasing use of computers and mobile phones is enabling broad adoption of information technology in Pakistan. It has the potential to increase transparency, enhance individual productivity and improve standards of living of ordinary citizens.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Mobile Internet to Overtake Desktop in 2014 in Pakistan

Biometric Information Technology in Pakistan

Power Theft in Pakistan

Mobile Banking in Pakistan

Mass Literacy Through Mobile Phones

Online Education in Pakistan

Pakistan's Telecom Revolution

Comments

Riaz Haq said…
Here's a News report about access to Ivy League school courses in Pakistan:

Any student sitting in Pakistan within the comfort of his bedroom or the ease of his armchair having a smartphone or a personal computer and an internet connection will now be able to access courses taught in the classrooms of Harvard, Yale, Stanford and MIT universities.

The Latif Ebrahim Jamal National Science Information Centre of the Karachi University (KU) launched a website, which will connect students in Pakistan to video lectures of professors at Ivy League universities of the world.

The web portal called the LEJ Knowledge Hub will hold thousands of full courses (0.5 lecture hours), skill development modules, research-based lectures and online mentoring lessons for school and university levels. All of this will be for free.

“Pakistan is among the first few countries of the world to launch such an initiative. History is being written right now,” said Dr Iqbal Chaudhry, the director of KU’s International Centre of Chemical and Biological Sciences, at a ceremony hosted at the Governor House on Thursday. President Mamnoon Hussain was the chief guest.

Students who log onto the website can choose if they want to be accredited for these courses or not. “I ask all educationists in the public and private sector universities to use this facility and include these internationally recognised courses in their curriculum,” Chaudhry said.

Schools can also access the portal as video tutorials from the Khan Academy have also been accommodated in the website.

Dr Atta-ur-Rehman, a former chairman of Higher Education Commission (HEC), said the website would bring about a new paradigm for Pakistan. “Universities are not about beautiful buildings, they are about beautiful minds,” he said. “Education is the only means of survival and our country has 40 percent children out of school.”

He shared a presentation titled “Higher Education: an Imperative for Social Development”, in which he highlighted what was lacking in Pakistani universities. At MIT, he claimed, graduates have started 4,000 new companies which employ 1.1 billion people. In Korea, only 5 percent of youth had university degrees till the 1960, but by 2010, 95 percent of its youth had attained higher education. Their imports increased over 350 times.

He was also hopeful that the status of the HEC would be restored, as in all countries higher education was a federal subject.

Philanthropist Aziz Latif Jamal, whose father established the LEJ centre, said: “We are one of the first countries to launch a website like the LEJ Knowledge Hub, but Pakistan has a lot of challenges ahead. Our literacy rate is a sorry 56 percent, we have untrained teachers and professors and a single digit education budget. If we are not ready to address these challenges then we are merely paying lip service to the cause of education at a time when our youth bulge is drifting towards militancy and crime.”

The president advised educational institutions to increase their pace of development so that it quenches the thirst for knowledge present in the youth of Karachi. “There was a time when business families of the city tried to outdo each other in their service to education. That is why we had the Ayesha Bawani Academy, Adamjee College and Dawood Engineering and Technology College. I pray those times return to Karachi.”

The government, he added, would resolve the pending status of the HEC and “salvage it from being ruined”.


http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-4-219774-Harvard-Yale-MIT-All-are-now-just-a-
Riaz Haq said…
Here's an Express Tribune story on the use of tracking devices to monitor Afghan Transit Trade (ATT) through Pakistan:

In an attempt to reduce hurdles to trade, the government of Afghanistan has asked Pakistan to reduce the high cost of tracking containers and prime-movers as it is causing trouble for Afghan importers and businesses.
Afghanistan made the request at the fourth annual meeting of the Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Coordination Authority (APTTCA) held on October 8 and 9 in Kabul.
The Afghan side said their traders were being charged both for the tracking device installed on trucks and containers. They suggested that the cost of the device installed on prime-movers should be borne by the transport operator and also sought a reduction in the device cost.
In reply, Pakistan officials assured them that they would take up the issue with the stakeholders for its resolution.
The request from Kabul comes at a time when the government of Pakistan has vowed that it will set up an advanced information technology database and container tracking system in one month to stop theft of Afghan and Nato containers and discourage smuggling along the Pak-Afghan border.

Afghan officials also said that during the third APTTCA meeting held in October 2012 Pakistan agreed to allow partial shipment of consignments from December 2012, but the facility had not been provided so far.
Pakistan’s delegation responded that they were allowing partial shipment on case-to-case basis. The software and procedure for partial shipment was in place and would be operational in one month to address the hardships faced by Afghan importers.
Shedding long-standing mistrust, the governments of Pakistan and Afghanistan are fast coming closer to streamlining bilateral trade by removing barriers that have been encouraging smuggling and discouraging formal business.
In the meeting, the Afghan side was led by Deputy Minister for Trade, Ministry of Commerce and Industries Mozammil Shinwari and Pakistan’s delegation was headed by Commerce Secretary Qasim M Niaz.


http://tribune.com.pk/story/616881/afghanistan-seeks-reduction-in-cost-of-tracking-containers/
Riaz Haq said…
Here's Bloomberg on 3G-4G auction in Pakistan:

Pakistan plans to auction licenses by March to run third- and fourth-generation mobile-phone networks, with both existing and new operators eligible to bid, the country’s telecommucations regulator chief said.
Pakistan Telecommunication Authority has hired Value Partners Management Consulting to advise on the sale, including the base price and number of licenses to be auctioned for a 15-year term, Chairman Syed Ismail Shah said in an interview in Islamabad yesterday.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s government expects to fetch between $1.2 billion to $2 billion as a result of the spectrum auction, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar told reporters Dec. 11.
“The licenses will be technology neutral and will be offered through an open bidding,” Shah said. “It will not only be for 3G, they can introduce any other advance technology including 4G.”
The telecommunications market was deregulated in 2004, and the number of mobile-phone users in the South Asian nation grew to 129.58 million as of September this year from 12.7 million in 2005, according to the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority.
The regulator plans to auction 30 megahertz of spectrum to new as well as existing operators that include Pakistan Mobile Communications Ltd.’s Mobilink, Telenor ASA’s local subsidiary, Warid Telecom of Abu-Dhabi group, the Pakistan unit of China Mobile Ltd. and Ufone of Pakistan Telecommunication, part-owned by Emirates Telecommunications Corp.
The government hasn’t specified how to divide the available spectrum. “It could be three lots of 10 megahertz each or there can be several combinations,” Shah said.
The regulator has yet to decide whether to leave it to the market to determine the tariff or if any regulatory intervention was needed. “We don’t want a price war because it compromises quality of services as well as profitability of companies.”


http://mobile.bloomberg.com/news/2013-12-20/pakistan-to-auction-licenses-for-3g-4g-mobile-services-by-march.html
Riaz Haq said…
Here's a FutureGov.asia report on digital literacy centers in Pakistan:

Pakistan’s Ministry of Information Technology is expanding its network of Universal Telecentres from 35 to 500, looking to deliver e-services, promoting ICT literacy and distance education in rural areas of the country.

Minister of State for IT, Anusha Rehman, highlighted that telecentres play a crucial role in serving the “neglected and unprivileged population of rural areas in all provinces”. The telecentres will offer not only access to broadband facility and information, but also be able to generate employment and entrepreneurship in the rural areas.

The centres will provide opportunities for e-learning, e-commerce, e-agriculture, and verification/registration of SIM cards and ID cards through the National Database and Registration Authority. E-health services will also be subsequently provided to the communities, the Minister added.

The telecentres will focus on providing services at the grassroot level, the Minister said, and that District Coordination Officers would monitor the project to ensure its proper and smooth functioning within their respective jurisdictions.

Provinces have already identified potential areas for establishing the proposed telecentres, and the first three e-services are expected to be delivered in the next year.


http://www.futuregov.asia/articles/2013/dec/20/pakistan-expands-digital-literacy-telecentres/
Riaz Haq said…
Here are highlights of a research report on Pakistan's telecom sector:

Despite an overall slowing in the country’s telecom market, Pakistan continues to grow its mobile sector; Mobile subscriber numbers were growing at close to 10% annually in 2011/2012, modest growth indeed compared with the earlier boom years; By mid-2013 there were around 125 million mobile subscribers for a penetration of 70%; Five mobile operators were competing vigorously for subscribers and revenue, all being able to claim a reasonable share of the market; Fifth-ranked Warid Telecom, however, was struggling and by 2013 was being put up for sale by its owner the Abu Dhabi Group; After many delays, 3G licensing looked as if it was proceeding in earnest with the auction scheduled for late 2013; it was more likely to be early 2014; To allow the spectrum auction to happen as planned the Prime Minister had approved relevant policy directives in October 2013; While Pakistan’s broadband internet penetration remained low in relative terms (less than 2% by mid-2013), there has been a significant surge recently in broadband services; The growth in wireless-based broadband has been especially important, representing around over 50% of subscriptions by 2013; Growth in the country’s fixed-line market remained sluggish, fixed teledensity standing at just over 3% in 2013, the numbers having actually fallen at times; One positive factor in the fixed market has been the success of wireless local loop technology which was supporting just over half of all fixed subscribers and looked to still be growing.

http://www.budde.com.au/Research/Pakistan-Telecoms-Mobile-Broadband-and-Forecasts.html
Riaz Haq said…
Here's a Huffington Post review of a book about second Industrial Revolution:

Andrew McAfee and Erik Brynjolfsson, from MIT's Center for Digital Business, have a new book out this week called, The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies.
--------
That's why we invited McAfee to join EMC's leadership team in Boston a couple of weeks ago to talk with us about how every business model in every industry is going to be redefined in some form by software. If the first machine age was about the automation of manual labor and horsepower, the second machine age is about the automation of knowledge work, thanks to the proliferation of real time, predictive data analytics, machine learning and the Internet of Things -- an estimated 200 billion devices connected to the Internet by 2020, all of them generating unimaginable quantities of data.

McAfee and Brynjolfsson's favorite example of automated work is Google's self-driving car, a marvel of ingenuity enabled by technology's ability to capture the data of so many moving variables and act on them instantly, free of human error. If a self-driving car seems far-fetched, how about software that grades students' essays more objectively, consistently and quickly than humans? Or news articles on Forbes.com about corporate earnings previews -- "all generated by algorithms without human involvement."

We used to speak about how organizations had access to databases. Now, leading organizations are building "data lakes" -- giant reservoirs of information in heterogeneous formats, to aid decision-making and to offer new services to customers. Mobile apps collect intelligence from vast networks of drivers on highways to direct us to the least congested routes between points A and B. "Massive online open courses" offer thousands of college level students access to the best lecturers halfway around the world -- at a fraction of the cost.

But progress always has a flip side -- and its critics. Sweeping technology-driven transformations are as much about disruption and dislocation as opportunity. To explore this trade-off, we at EMC are hosting a breakfast conversation in Davos on Thursday with McAfee, Brynjolfsson and New York Times columnist Tom Friedman, who has written about these topics in previous books and columns. No conversation about the future can ignore the human costs of progress or the discomforting question of whether everyone is adequately prepared.

On this question, McAfee and Brynjolfsson are generally optimistic about the future of technology and the opportunities for humanity. The good news is, living standards increase with gains in productivity. But why are so many innovative large companies awash in cash while unemployment rates have hardly budged?

Harvard Business School's Clayton Christensen, who has devoted a career to studying disruptive innovation, spoke with us about this recently. The challenge, he notes, is that so much of the innovation we see in the world today is efficiency-based in nature: it's about doing familiar things in cheaper, more efficient ways.

In The Second Machine Age, the great software-defined businesses of tomorrow will be the ones that usher in breakthrough innovations that do new things entirely -- the kind of innovation that generates new value by opening up unforeseen market opportunities: new products, new services, new ways of servicing customers, and new jobs. That's what the first machine age was all about. Ready or not, the second machine age is already underway. And the value and disruption it will generate will stagger us all.


http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bill-teuber/the-coming-of-the-second-machine-age_b_4648207.html
Riaz Haq said…
Here's a Forbes piece on PITB chief Umar Saif:

Umar Saif has done a lot in his 35 years. A Pakistani, he earned his PhD in computer science from the University of Cambridge at 22. He began a post doctorate degree at MIT at an age when most of his peers – age wise – had not completed their bachelor’s degrees. He worked at the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory where he was part of the core team that developed system technologies for the $50 million Project Oxygen. He collaborated with Anant Agarwal, now the president of edX, among other legendary computer science and artificial intelligence professors. After spending years away from his native Pakistan, he found that he enjoyed the entrepreneurial spirit of MIT and of the US more generally. However, it was a conversation with a colleague about what he wanted to achieve in his life that got him to rethink his plans for the future. He decided that he wanted to help establish a comparable entrepreneurial hot-bed like the one he found at MIT back in Pakistan.

He returned to the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS), where he found that his top students were the equivalent of the top students at MIT, but they did not realize the potential they had. His own story became an inspiration for a series of entrepreneurs, many of whom he has started businesses with. He was named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum in 2010, selected as one of top 35 young innovators in the world by MIT Technology Review in 2011 and received a Google faculty research award in 2011.
In 2011, Saif became the Chairman of the Punjab Information Technology Board (PITB), heading all public-sector IT projects in the province of Punjab province. In 2013, Saif was appointed the founding vice-chancellor of the Information Technology University (ITU). At the age of 34, he became the youngest vice-chancellor of a university in Pakistan. Saif has accomplished a lot, but, as he explains it, he has only just gotten started...

PH: You also lead one of the first incubators in Lahore, SCI, and as Chairman of the Punjab Information Technology Board you have launched the Plan9 incubator. As such, you have great reason to think about trends and areas of opportunity where you might invest time and money. What excites you as you look forward?

US: There are two industries that are going through a fundamental re-think: education and media. The changes in each are just fascinating. Companies like edX, Udacity, and Coursera are really changing the way in which students will be taught. In five years, I think the classroom will be much different from the historical norms. Fewer professors will be lecturing at the head of a classroom of hundreds of students. Rather students will have watched the lectures before they get into the classrooms, and professors will have to stimulate more conversation and collaboration. We are actively experimenting with variants of the MOOCs, possibly in collaboration with initiatives like edX, in ITU, especially evaluating how cellphones can be leveraged as a platform to extend the reach of education in Pakistan.

Print media is dying, and technology is partially the reason. My work with citizen journalism has informed my opinions here. I get most of my news through Twitter today as opposed to the newspapers and television reporting that my parents use. This is the new wave. Old media companies were powerful and profitable. They are losing each, and the means of monetizing opportunities in the new world is unclear. This lack of clarity is exciting. It means many entrepreneurs are trying new things. Some will succeed and others will fail.

Ultimately, I hope to create the kind of entrepreneurial spirit here in Pakistan that exists in the US. I am optimistic with the progress we have made thus far.
..


http://www.forbes.com/sites/peterhigh/2014/02/03/a-professor-with-a-western-past-remakes-pakistans-entrepreneurial-future/

http://www.metisstrategy.com/interview/umar-saif/
Riaz Haq said…
Installing smart meters at customer premises is an essential part of the smart grid project in Pakistan or anywhere else. It also includes: Advanced Metering Infrastructure solutions including metering and backend software and server system that shall be deployed at all nine DISCOs as well as the National Power Control Center (NPCC). The project has been designed to eliminate incidences of unscheduled load shedding by accurately assessing total load demand information on a near real time basis, and thus shall impact the lives of the hundreds of millions of people connected to the national electricity grid network.

http://www.mtilimited.com/newsroom/ami-project-eliminate-load-shedding.php
Riaz Haq said…
Here's an APP story on the launch of Open Source Software Foundation in Pakistan:

To make Pakistan a hub of open source technologies in Asia by 2020, Open Source Foundation of Pakistan (OSFP) was launched by a team of dedicated professionals from academia, IT industry and services sector. Speaking at a ceremony here, Founder of OSFP Babar Zahoor said the founding principles of the foundation has been set as “using and developing the local human resources for introducing IT based solutions for local markets, home users and industry”. It is believed that both public and private sector organizations are using billions of rupees to use imported close-ended software programs and technologies.
Many of them have to develop their activities around the imported softwares to save further billions because customization costs are used as traps by these foreign firms to lynch local firms of their valuable resources, he added.
Hence local industries lose the competitive edge not only in production but even in cyber security and data pilferage.
He said the OSFP will provide a platform to the private and public sector organizations and universities, it can help them save billions of rupees.
Babar Zahoor believes, “both private and public sectors can save these monies for human resource development in the country by spending a fraction of the cost they are bearing now by importing not-so-customized software from the monopolized close-ended sources.”
Thinking globally to give local solutions in the field of user friendly and customized IT sector, OSFP held its first elections in Islamabad to elect a five member executive council and a four office bearers.
Newly elected Executive Council Members are Saleem M. Rafik (Director General Operations NADRA), Dr Syed Iqbal Ahmad PhD (Adviser Education Oxfam Novib Pakistan, Ex Chief Scientist Pakistan Agri Research Center), Ms Asma Qadeer, Assistant Professor Linguistics (Vice President Women Wing Baluchistan Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf), Tahir Mahmood Chaudhary (President Computer Society of Pakistan, CEO of Pakistan Institute of Entrepreneurs, CEO of Falcon Engineering and Sarfaraz M. Khan Chief Technology Officer Path Finder, Ex Vice President Vectra Com Pvt. Ltd.
According to by laws, Executive Council Members will arrange first meeting to elect Foundation’s Chair and Vice Chair soon.


http://www.app.com.pk/en_/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=271267&Itemid=2
Riaz Haq said…
Here's an excerpt of a NY Times Op Ed on Punjab, Pakistan:

Concerns about Punjabi domination have soared since the spring of 2013, when Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, of the Pakistan Muslim League (P.M.L.N.), was returned to power for the third time. He belongs to a Lahore-based industrial family with close ties to Punjab’s business elite and a can-do attitude to governance that features flashy development schemes. The perception that Punjab is batting in a league of its own has mounted under the Sharifs. During the general election campaign last year, while the Pakistan People’s Party, which is perceived to represent Sindhi interests, was making welfare cash transfers to impoverished women, the P.M.L.N. was distributing laptops to students.

Most of Karachi’s 18 million residents have to rely on private transport. But Lahoris commute on a rapid metrobus system, and a similar initiative in Islamabad will be the federal capital’s most expensive road project to date. While the Punjabi government is digitizing land records, automating administrative transactions and promoting what it calls e-governance, the Sindh government faces a famine in Tharparkar.

Punjab has been able to progress because it has been relatively unimpeded by terrorism. Shahbaz Sharif, Nawaz’s brother and Punjab’s chief minister since 2008, publicly appealed to the Pakistani Taliban in 2010 not to attack the province, and the request was largely heeded. His P.M.L.N. government in Punjab has not clamped down on influential sectarian militant groups in the province, instead befriending their leaders to rally votes during elections.

Likewise, the P.M.L.N. government at the center started pushing for peace talks with the Taliban in September and then even more in November, when the Taliban threatened to carry out attacks in Punjab to avenge the killing of their former leader in a U.S. drone strike in North Waziristan. The central government is considering concessions, including swapping prisoners, granting an amnesty to Taliban fighters and even giving the group a political role in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas along the border with Afghanistan.

Government officials have repeatedly stated that a peace deal is necessary because military strikes against the Taliban would lead to reprisal attacks. Given the carnage that Karachi, Quetta and Peshawar have endured in recent years, many Pakistanis describe that policy as a ploy to sacrifice the tribal areas in order to save Lahore. Such perceptions only heighten interprovincial tensions, just at a time when the country needs to be more united than ever.


http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/03/opinion/the-other-threat-to-pakistan.html?hpw&rref=opinion&_r=0
Riaz Haq said…
Here's an Express Tribune report on E-Commerce in Pakistan:

Pakistan is one of the fastest emerging e-commerce markets in the region.
The level of trust global online groups are showing in the talents of the Pakistani youth and the e-commerce industry here suggests that, in the near future, it is likely to hold a significant share in Pakistan’s economy.
Kaymu.pk, a venture of Rocket Internet, a German based internet incubator operating in Pakistan, has built a reputation in the eyes of the decision makers of its parent company within just 15 months since it began operations.
The team, which is successfully operating kaymu.pk, has been given a task to launch the same portal in 26 other countries of Europe and the Asian region.
“The level of trust by the parent company shows huge potential and bright future for the e-commerce industry in Pakistan,” said Managing Director Asian Region Kaymu.pk Ahmed Khan in an interview with The Express Tribune.
“Pakistan e-commerce industry has just started its journey and the youth is driving this sector,” he added.
Kaymu.pk launched in Pakistan in January 2013 and is known as one of the best online platforms with 600 retailers offering their products to online shoppers. Khan believes that they still have a long journey and a big market to cover.
The portal is maturing some 1,000 transactions daily with an average turnover of Rs1.2 million per day. According to Khan, around 40% of the total transactions are of the apparel and jewelry segments. Due to suspicion and other issues with using plastic for payments, more than 99% of transactions are cash-based.
Khan said that the online transaction ratio will surge once the use of plastic money becomes common and the number of smartphone users also increase with the introduction of 3G and 4G services.
The exercise for online shopping via different portals for convenient shopping is increasing with each passing day. E-commerce is now spreading and is creating its share in the overall retail segment, with small, medium and large-scale retailers becoming eager to sell their products via such portals.


http://tribune.com.pk/story/694838/expansion-e-commerce-future-bright-in-pakistan/

http://www.kaymu.com/

http://www.rocket-internet.de/about-us
Riaz Haq said…
NDTV: What India Can Learn About E-Governance From Pakistan

Pakistan, like India, suffers from a litany of problems such as frequent power outages, limited unreliable broadband connectivity and a lack of computer literacy. And like India, Pakistan is also experiencing the transformative effects of the smartphone revolution.

But while the government here is now talking about using apps like WhatsApp for citizen complaints, our neighbour has been using government-made smartphone apps to help officials deal with a range of issues from fighting dengue to extending arable land to crime monitoring.

A lot of the credit to this change can be given to the Punjab Information and Technology Board (PITB), headed by the Chairman Dr Umar Saif since 2011. Saif - who received his PhD from Trinity College, Cambridge - also serves as the Vice Chancellor of the Information Technology University in Pakistan, after a four year stint teaching and working at MIT.

The Pakistani province of Punjab holds more than half of the country's population and in 2011 it was facing a dengue epidemic, with 21,000 cases and hundreds of fatalities. Part of the problem was the haphazard of digitisation of records, which made it hard to co-ordinate work across departments. The solution that the PITB came up with was to create a smartphone application that could be distributed to workers and officials in the various government departments engaged in tackling dengue. The app was used to track the work being done to fight the disease, and to also map the spread of dengue.

Speaking to NDTV Gagdets on the phone, Saif shares his insights into the challenges of bringing a technology solution to a government problem.

"Historically, IT departments around the world have stuck to using personal computers as the platform for their solutions," Saif explains, "and this has some fundamental flaws. Governments spend billions buying the hardware and software, but the uptake of technology is very low."

"The bureaucracy - particularly the lower tiers, are not computer savvy, and PCs have a lot of infrastructural needs," he adds. "And a senior bureaucrat will often not want to use the computer either, and just gives it to an assistant in a back room. That's the state of things in Pakistan, and I suspect, in countries like India too - such devices are used more as typewriters."

To work around these constraints, the PITB invested in Android smartphones - cheaper ones for the lower level staff, and high-end ones for the senior officials - and distributed these devices with a few work-related pre-installed apps along with some paid for talk time and messages.

http://gadgets.ndtv.com/mobiles/features/what-india-can-learn-about-e-governance-from-pakistan-574650?site=classic
Riaz Haq said…
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Power Distribution Programme has successfully implemented its Load Data Improvement (LDI) Program in DISCOs, aimed at minimising unscheduled load shedding.
Automatic Meter Reading (AMR) devices were installed on a fast-track basis in all DISCOs including Fesco. The project also included the upgrade of each DISCOs Power Distribution Centre (PDC) and accordingly Fesco’s PDC was upgraded and made functional, with live data now being acquired from all of its grid stations and outgoing feeders.
Currently, under the USAIDs LDI programme, the Fesco PDC has fitted multiple screens displaying live load data by grid substation and feeders. Power factor information is also displayed indicating when capacitor banks should be deployed to improve the voltage level. To date, a total of 1,064 AMR meters have been installed on 85 grid stations of Fesco that are reporting live load data information to perform effective load management and curtailing unscheduled load-shedding.

http://tribune.com.pk/story/750950/usaid-to-help-strengthen-countrys-energy-sector/
Riaz Haq said…
Pakistan has launched a state-of-the-art system to help farmers calculate their crop losses to extreme weather more accurately and support the government in tackling hunger and malnutrition.

Late last month, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) installed the geospatial crop forecasting system at the Pakistan Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (SUPARCO) to improve the quality of agricultural statistics.

Muhammad Bashir, a 45-year-old farmer in the Narowal district of Punjab province, lost 12 acres (4.9 hectares) of his rice crop when it was washed away by flash floods in September.

"Erratic weather and flash floods hit our crops each year but there is no mechanism in place to get early warning and ascertain the exact loss," said Bashir, who owns 73 acres (29.5 hectares) of land.

Growers in flood-prone areas cannot earn enough to cover their outgoings because of regular disasters, and most even fail to repay bank loans due to crop damage, he said by telephone.

"If we get data on our crop yields and weather conditions well in advance, we can prepare a good budget for educating our children," he said. The government should introduce modern technology for the farming business, he suggested.

Pakistan's agriculture sector contributes a fifth of gross domestic product and generates work for just under half the country's labour force, according to the Pakistan Economic Survey 2013-14.

The recent floods damaged standing crops on 978,363 hectares (2.4 million acres) while estimates by government ministries and experts put losses to the economy at $14-15 million.

CHEAPER, BETTER DATA

Faisal Syed, project facilitator at the FAO, said the new geospatial system would help both the government and farmers get accurate and timely data on crop yields and expected losses in the case of natural disasters like floods and droughts.

Under the system, funded by the U.S. government, SUPARCO uses Satellite Remote Sensing (SRS) and Geographic Information System (GIS) technologies to gather crop data.

Satellite imagery is taken twice a year, while field surveys are conducted during two cropping seasons in spring and autumn. SUPARCO then uses statistical models to estimate yields.

"The geospatial system will replace the archaic manual method of crop forecasting and help decrease costs of data collection," said Syed.

The system will initially cover only two provinces of Pakistan: Punjab and Sindh.

Floods wash away standing crops on millions of hectares each year in Pakistan, but the government has always lacked precise data on the damage to crops and yields, Syed added.

"A government cannot formulate cogent policies to address the issues of food security and malnutrition in the affected areas if it doesn't have proper data," he said.

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Ibrahim Mughal, chairman of Agri Forum Pakistan, a body representing Pakistani farmers, said the federal and provincial governments set unrealistic targets for crop production each year so as to paint a positive picture of agriculture - which ultimately hurts the interests of growers.

The Crop Reporting Services department should be independent so it can adopt the geospatial system and relay accurate information to farmers free from government influence, he said.

"As long as the officers remain under pressure from the government, they cannot make public real data on the targets set for a crop and the expected yield," he said.

Political will should be focused rather on dealing with food security, malnutrition and erratic weather impacts, he said.

Mughal suggested the Punjab and Sindh governments should send crop data and weather forecasts to farmers each week via mobile phone to maximise the impact of the new system.

http://www.trust.org/item/20141128083628-mk8y3/?source=fiInDepth
Riaz Haq said…
Shahid Abdullah has been in business long enough to spot a good opportunity. Abdullah is the president of the Sapphire Group, one of Pakistan’s largest textile companies with 16,000 employees, $800 million in annual revenues, and a global base of customers. But when his country started running out of electricity a decade ago, he switched gears and built a large power plant in Muridke, just north of Pakistan’s second largest city Lahore. “Moving into power generation was a step that made sense,” he says. “Not just from a business perspective, but also in terms of realizing our mission and contributing to the development of the communities in which we work and live.”

Abdullah’s calculation was simple. Lack of power is one of Pakistan’s burning needs. Electricity consumption is growing by close to 8 percent, and peak power demand exceeds supply by more than 4 gigawatts (GW), a massive amount. But his journey was far from easy.

The Muridke Power Plant generates 234 megawatts (MW), but from the start in 2010 it grappled with fluctuating fuel costs, which make up some 85 percent of its operating expenses. Fuel savings of just 1 percent could boost its net income by as much as 20 percent, but the downside was equally steep.

Abdullah started looking for a solution and learned about the Industrial Internet, a digital network connecting, collecting and analyzing data from sensors installed inside machines, including turbines that produce electricity. “His answer was in numbers,” says Azeez Mohammed, president and CEO of GE Power Generation Services in the Middle East and Africa, who started talking to Abdullah in 2014.

Mohammed proposed to embed hundreds of sensors and other digital instruments in Abdullah’s turbines, analyze the data they collect, and use the information to improve the plant’s performance, optimize production and reduce unplanned downtime. But Abdullah was cautious. “The last thing I wanted was to be a guinea pig in GE’s ‘first-of-its-kind’ experiment,” he laughs.

GE’s Mohammed, however, was convinced that the project would work. So much so that he proposed Abdullah a deal: GE would pay for the sensors and the software and then split all benefits with Sapphire under a win-win scenario.

With Abdullah on board, GE dispatched a team of technicians and software engineers to Muridke. They spent a month developing a self-learning analytical model based on huge amounts of data from the gas turbines and other plant assets at Sapphire. The model allowed them to predict changes in efficiency, electricity output and other outcomes under different production scenarios without having to make any changes to the equipment itself.

In October 2014 the team connected the system to the plant’s two GE 6FA gas turbines, which GE engineers specifically designed with the Industrial Internet in mind. By December that year, the Sapphire plant has started seeing the benefits.

The heart of the system is GE’s Predix software platform and an advanced analytics application called Asset Performance Management (APM). The app allows industrial assets talk seamlessly with each other in a secure manner, and uses analytics to make the equipment more efficient.

The GE team is now working to link power plant’s steam turbine to system. The software is so versatile it doesn’t mind that turbine was the Czech industrial company Skoda, not GE.

GE estimates the Industrial Internet could bring the Muridke Power Plant millions of dollars in benefits over the next decade.

http://www.manufacturing.net/news/2015/04/industrial-internet-software-is-helping-solve-pakistans-electricity-shortage
Riaz Haq said…
How #Pakistan Is Fighting #Crime and #Corruption With #Technology @Diplomat_APAC http://thediplomat.com/2016/12/how-pakistan-is-fighting-crime-and-corruption-with-technology/ …

In the education sector, PITB’s “Smart Monitoring” initiative has proved highly effective in improving the performance of public schools by collecting real-time data on different key performance indicators. Under this initiative, each of the 36 districts in Punjab are monitored on an individual basis by the government’s monitoring officers, who are tasked with visiting and reporting on 52,695 public schools registered across the province every month. The activity of monitoring officers is geotagged to ensure their timely visits. To make the process more open and transparent and increase citizen’s participation, all collected data in this regard and its real-time performance and monitoring have been made available online for public access.

To combat terrorism, crime, and enhance the performance of police, different tech-based initiatives are being put in place. The automation of Punjab’s Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) as well as digitalization of the criminal database and suspect profiling have helped in the apprehension of number of suspects who have previously evaded justice. A few months ago, one suspect with multiple identities was recognized as one person by the Punjab police due to the effective use of a digital criminal fingerprint database, which is being implemented across the province.

Furthermore, the PITB-developed Crime Mapping (CM) software has facilitated police in identifying some of the long established and emerging crime pockets in the province. The software has also proven valuable in helping the provincial law enforcement agencies in conducting electronic crime investigations, devising better strategies to preempt, discover, and control criminal acts. Moreover, to tighten a noose around hardened criminals and terrorists, the police in Lahore has made it essential for all hotels to use the “Hotel Eye” software in order to monitor the record and information of all visitors and guests staying there. In the last two months, the city police have been able to arrest 43 criminals from different hotels in Lahore by using the software.

Above all, besides improving transparency, CM software will also help in reducing the much reported and rampant corruption in police department. In this regard, reforms related to “Paperless Policing” such as real-time monitoring of police stations, online FIR submissions and screening of the investigation progress, and biometric attendance of police personnel is being employed. Currently, the initiative is being used in Lahore but the government plans to expand it to the entire province.

The agriculture sector is another area where the provincial government is making much needed technology based interventions. Among other efforts to improve the sector, Punjab government is planning to provide smart phones to about 600,000 farmers in the province to better the output of crops.

The explosive boom of Pakistan’s IT industry has begun to penetrate into almost every sphere of public sector by offering new tools and systems to improve their performance. The trend is being noticed at all levels: Plans are underway to conduct the next national census with the effective deployment of technological methods; Pakistan Railway is preparing to computerize its ticketing system; and Pakistan customs will soon be using smart phones for snap checking vehicles on the roads, which could help in the identification of illicit smuggled goods and traders.

“Every level of government can be managed and is required to be managed using IT in this new digital world. Introduction of robust mobile technologies has made it absolutely essential for governments worldwide to introduce IT-based customer services in each department,” maintains Bilal Bajwa, a consultant and analyst at the Rockwell Automation.
Riaz Haq said…
#Punjab Government and Huawei Technologies #Pakistan to launch e-Services in education and health http://bit.ly/2hlUyZT via @techjuicepk

Punjab Government and Huawei Technologies Pakistan have signed an agreement to start various e-Service pilot projects in health and education sectors of Punjab, Pakistan.

Chairman Planning and Development Punjab Jahanzeb Khan, Secretary Specialized Healthcare Punjab Najam Ali Shah, Huawei Chief Executive Officer Saif-Chi and others were present during the signing ceremony. Jahanzeb Khan said,

“Huawei Technologies Company has agreed to set-up e-services pilot projects in four hospitals, one university, one college, one high school and one elementary school free of cost in Punjab as its pilot projects,”

Health and education are the important pillars of the country and he appreciated the efforts of Huawei Technologies in this regard. Incorporating electronic technology in these sectors will help in the development of the province.

A smart e-Classroom will be established at IT University Lahore in order to promote interactive learning and help students communicate with the scholars of partner universities. Campus monitoring system will enable live video recording. Other institutes to get these facilities are Directorate of Staff Development Lahore, Government High School Raiwind Lahore and Government College of Elementary Teachers, Multan. Online learning and innovative ICT will help improve teaching quality.

Huawei will provide technical assistance in healthcare solutions in hospitals like District Hospital Muzaffargarh, Children’s Hospital Lahore, Tehsil Headquarter Hospital Gojra and Rural Health Center. Huawei develops medical service solutions using telemedicine applications, which include remote doctor visits, surgery demonstrations, consultation services and other medical videos on demand. Hospital Information Management System will be installed in the hospitals for this purpose.
Riaz Haq said…
Higher Education Commission of #Pakistan to establish #Technology and #Innovation Support Centre http://bit.ly/2jGtAsd via @techjuicepk

The Higher Education Commission of Pakistan (HEC) is going to establish a state-of-the-art Technology and Innovation Support Centre (TISC) Network in Pakistan, in collaboration with Intellectual Property Organisation (IPO) Pakistan.

A workshop featured on “Access to Technology for Innovation” and on the establishment of the said project was held here in HEC Secretariat Islamabad, yesterday. The workshop was chaired by the Executive Director HEC, Dr. Arshad Ali.

The workshop aimed at providing a hands-on approach and learning on using technical tools and employing the concerning IT-linked strategies on patent databases and intellectual property. The awareness sessions which preceded the said ceremony were attended by about 70 participants who were the respective focal persons from higher education and research institutions from across the country.

The Technology and Innovation Support Centers (TISC) program is a pilot program of the World Intellectual Property Organization and assists in providing innovators from developing countries the access to indigenous technology and IT related services. The program is basically designed so as to create, protect, and manage the intellectual property (IP) rights of the innovators.

Riaz Haq said…
#Visa QR #mobile payments coming to #Indonesia, #Pakistan, #Vietnam

http://www.telecomasia.net/content/visa-qr-payments-coming-indonesia-pakistan-vietnam

Visa will soon be expanding its QR-based mobile payment service to ten more markets, including Indonesia, Pakistan and Vietnam.

The service, named mVisa, is now live in India, Kenya and Rwanda, and will soon be available to merchants and consumers in the three new APAC markets, as well as Egypt, Ghana, Kazakhstan, and Nigeria.

mVisa, a mobile solution, aims to provide easy and secure digital commerce to financial institutions, merchants and consumers in emerging markets.

The service is designed to help merchants overcome infrastructure issues by allowing consumers to use their mobile phones to make cashless purchases at merchant outlets, pay bills remotely and send money to friends and family members by securely linking their Visa debit, credit or prepaid account to the mVisa application.

mVisa digitizes the underlying account and allows consumers to transfer funds from their account to the retailer’s account reliably and securely by scanning a QR code.

Use cases of mVisa include the allowing subscribers of Tata Sky, a direct-to-home service provider in India, to recharge their account by using their mobile phones to scan the WR code directly from the TV screen or online. This function allows Tata Sky customers to order and pay for monthly or one-time services from home without having to visit a physical retail outlet.

Mahanagar Gas Limited, a utility provider in Mumbai, also issues customer bills printed with the mVisa QR code. Customers scan the QR code on the bill, as they would at a merchant outlet, and complete their transaction at their leisure.
Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan's #IT industry exports jump 19% last year hit all-time high near $1 Billion. #technology http://bit.ly/2w82sgr via @techjuicepk

Pakistan’s IT exports have hit an all-time high in the outgoing financial year of 2016-2017.

The country is witnessing a growth boom in the IT industry like never before and the government is also taking steps to support the IT infrastructure. And the numbers prove that the positive activity in the IT industry is delivering good results. According to ProPakistani, figures provided by the State Bank of Pakistan(SBP) indicate that the IT industry’s exports – which includes telecom, and computer and information services – in the outgoing financial year were of $938.640 million. The exports made in the previous financial year of 2015-2016 were worth $788.640 million. This indicates a year-on-year growth of 19%.

The Pakistan Software Exchange Board(PSEB), on the other hand, has reported figures that are three times greater than those reported by the SBP. According to the PSEB, the IT exports stand at a whopping $2.8 billion. There is a huge disparity in the numbers that have been reported by the SBP and the PSEB. However, it should be noted here that the SBP and the PSEB calculate the final figure of IT exports in a different manner. The PSEB reports in different sectors such as financial services, healthcare sector, e-commerce, e-health, but to estimate the final figure of total exports it takes into consideration all the exports done by local software houses to international clients.

If Pakistan’s IT industry keeps thriving at this rate, it certainly rings good news for the country’s economy. Could Pakistan hit the target of $6 billion software exports by 2020 or the target of $10 billion IT exports by 2025? We’ll have to wait and see. But the present certainly does look good.
Riaz Haq said…
Punjab, Pakistan has just transformed its land record management system. What can we learn?
Ede Ijjasz-Vasquez's picture
SUBMITTED BY EDE IJJASZ-VASQUEZ

https://blogs.worldbank.org/category/countries/pakistan

Land is an essential resource for sustainable development. From large cities to remote villages, land remains one of the most important assets for many people, especially the poor.

Worldwide, only 3 out of 10 people have a legally registered title to their land. Difficulties associated with land administration and registration systems, together with inequalities of land distribution and tenure insecurity, often hinder social and economic development.

In Pakistan, the province of Punjab faced such a challenge. For many rural landowners in the province, land titles weren’t easily accessible, nor were they properly managed and protected. To tackle the land administration challenge, the government of Punjab turned to an innovative solution: they used digital technology to modernize its old, inefficient paper-based land administration system.

Supported by the World Bank, the Punjab Land Records Management and Information Systems (LRMIS) project turned out to be one of the success stories for the province of Punjab. Within just five years, Punjab scanned 10 million pages of old records, digitized over 55 million landowners’ records—98% of all records—across the province, and made all rural land title information available online 24/7 for landowners.

Prior to the project, it would take up to two months to complete a land transaction in Punjab. Today, it takes a rural Punjab resident only 50 minutes to receive a digitally recorded, legally registered land title from one of the 144 newly created land record offices across all 36 districts of the province. This has helped the province of Punjab enhance the transparency of land administration while securing land rights for its people, including women farmers who were denied their land rights in the old system.

In this video, World Bank Senior Director Ede Ijjasz-Vasquez (@Ede_WBG) and Muhammad Zafar Iqbal, Director General of Punjab Land Records Authority, discuss in detail the past, present, and future of the Punjab LRMIS project.

Going forward, the government of Punjab plans to expand digital land record management to its urban areas. Cities and villages alike in other countries can also learn from this successful project and innovative approach to land administration

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