Tag Archive: Pakistan


Curbing corruption through ICTs (e-governence)


As we have been repeatedly sharing new concepts about use of ICTs for empowering humans, their use in e-governance is an emerging field. The concept of “Jhang model” for curbing corruption is an elegant and simplistic solution for the local governing bodies to establish feedback mechanisms for checks and balances on corruption in daily operations of bureaucracy and government officials.
Started off in district of Jhang in Punjab, Pakistan, the idea is now gaining ground in other districts of punjab. The whole concept is expained in the video (some portions are in urdu and i’ll try to put it in words here).

Video presentation commentary:

I’ll show you a small video and it will give you the visual sense of the project.

‘It is a simple project, if any citizen pays a visit to any government office for routine work, his/her cell number be recorded and after a given amount of time any responsible government official shall contact him/her about the visit and the experience of the citizen. The officer can directly ask him/her if any corruption was witnessed? If any pattern is discovered representative officials should take action.

Call…

Allahdita, i’m DCO Gujranwala speaking (our call got hungup), i was talking about the program started on behest of Chief minister Punjab to check if there is any problems being faced by citizens during the registration process… You were here a few days back for your registry so i wanted to check back if you faced any such problem, did anyone overcharge you (yes), did you get your work done within one day? (yes) My bother how much did they charge you? (it cost me 3000 Rs in total). Does it include the documentation work too? (yes) Did clerk charge you anything extra? (No sir).

Second Call…

Is this Muhammad Sideeq? (Yes sir). Commissioner Bahawalpur will speak to you. (alright).

Sideeq sahab, Assalam-o-Alaikum, (Wa-Alaikum- Salam sir, is everything ok?) Thanks a lot. I’m commissioner Bahawalpur speaking, Mushtaq. You got your registration on 14th for for 5 Marla land in RahimyarKhan. Did you face any problems or anyone bother you? (Sir i did not face any problem, issue or tension. Thanks a lot for your follow up).

IVR Message – The following call is being made from Government of Punjab, you shall be receiving messages or calls from Government inquiring about the conduct you were provided during registration process. Did you face any difficulties or problems?


 

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Pakistan’s Education Emergency


The sad state of primary education in Pakistan has already been covered on our blog previously here while discussing the importance of teach for Pakistan initiative. Recently Pakistan Education Task Force released some mindblowing statistics about primary education and Pakistan’s role in UN’s MDG of education for all. The post on Pakistaniat.com has comprehensively covered this issue. Let’s join hands to act and lets start by signing the petition here. The education taskforce has called for “March for Education”: All Pakistan should talk bout during march is education (and cricket).

 

Pakistan’s flood of 2010 was the largest in the country’s history. We still haven’t  recovered from the incredible destruction of life, property and infrastructure that it left in its wake. No one can argue that if such a calamity were to occur year after year, the existence of the country would be in jeopardy. The economic impact of a 2010 like flood year after year is no different than the long-term consequence of illiteracy in Pakistan!

Continue Reading at ATP’s post.

Teach for Pakistan


It may well be the replica of our famous teach for America campaign buts its still warmly welcome. Its time to take things in hand before our time delay with developed world gets more than a decade. It’s the current generation which needs to stop this relativistic movement of the development frame of reference for developed world and Pakistan.

Our part of world is one facing immense problems of populations exploding exponentially and the development graph just doing, at best, to follow up a linear graph. Information Communication Technologies provide us with the platform to beat that ‘lags’ in development and population. Our neighbor India has already started to bridge the divides through their innovative technology solutions. They are trying to win the fight of Systems Vs Society by improving onto their systems.  TATA’s project of Computer Based Functional Literacy project is one of the epic examples of success stories which speak up for the case of use of technology in education. The project has been such a success that its being exported to Africa now.

If we do not act fast enough time will not stop for us! One of the classic problems with our system is the lack of means for us ‘expats’ to keep track of brilliant initiatives like Concern for Children where our capital can do marvels for little kids. Why do Indian cases make out to TED always? Simple ideas of educating the slum children, Dharkan 107.8 and Hole-in-the-wall are making a great impact. We need more work to develop platforms for investing in similar initiatives back home. Youth organizations like Pakistan Youth Alliance (comprising of ambitious youth) with their project Mashal are already delivering, all they need is your backing up and support.

All the message is. Teach for Pakistan

Else this will continue to happen to our next generations (forgive the sarcasm in the interviewer’s tone)


Pakistan has been severely affected by unprecedented floods triggered by heavy rains. It has led to tragic loss of lives besides widespread loss of livestock, destruction of physical/communication infrastructure in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Gilgit-Baltistan, Azad Kashmir, Punjab, Balochistan and Sindh. Flooding has submerged whole villages in the past week, killing at least 1,600 people, according to the UN. Pakistan authorities believe more than 12 million people have been affected, with the figure likely to rise as flood waters head south.


Christian aid agencies have warned that the destruction of transport and communication links is leaving many victims of the Pakistani floods virtually “cut off” from outside help. Ashraf Mall, Tearfund’s Country Representative for Pakistan, said:

“It’s one of the biggest floods in the history of Pakistan. People need food immediately as they have lost their homes and possessions. But it is not proving easy to respond to this emergency. Bridges and roads have been destroyed and the disruption of transport and communication links is making assessments difficult, with many survivors effectively cut off from outside help.”

Some pictures of Pakistanis coping with the floods can be seen here. Some ways to help through your donations are listed here.

(Sources: SAMAA, Christian Today)

Nokia Innovation Contest


Finally the details of the NOKIA Innovation contest as prophesized in our previous post are out. The contest details are available at the Official Site. The targeted contest for Pakistani Developers are here. The contest focuses on development of mobile applications.

Access all details regarding the contest here. read more


September 2009 – The Education Department, Government of Punjab, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Microsoft Pakistan under the “Partners in Learning” global program. Both parties will work cooperatively to participate in a four-year program from 2009 till 2013.

It was decided under the MoU that Microsoft’s and the Education Department’s associates will provide a joint report to Government of Punjab and Microsoft every 90 days. The report will provide an assessment of the purpose, progress and impact of ‘Partners in learning program’ in Punjab, Pakistan.

Michael Robinson, GM Public Sector, Microsoft MEA, flew down to Pakistan to personally thank the Chief Minster and Government of Punjab to select Microsoft as their partner in this massive reform program. Michael articulated that, “Microsoft has always believed that investing in education is the best way to help young people achieve their potential. We are hand in hand in this program with the Education Department, Government of Punjab to ensure that students receive practical education of information technology that can help them get jobs in the market.”

According to the MoU, Microsoft will provide four weeks of internship to 4 students suggested by the Government of Punjab every year through Microsoft’s certified partners in Pakistan. The chief minister said under the agreement, the Punjab government would invest Rs3 billion in three years and Microsoft Rs1.5 billion, and resultantly the government would earn a profit of Rs500 million.

Sayed Hashish, Director Public Sector, Microsoft North Africa, East Med and Pakistan, stated that, “Over the past few years, technology has become a need in every field. Microsoft, realizing the challenges that institutions in Pakistan face to implement a quality technology program, came up with a very unique plan. We believe that importance of computer literacy cannot be overstated as technology continues to accelerate globally. Hence, this partnership between Government of Punjab and Microsoft is a worthwhile approach and will help the education system here in the long run.”

Kamal Ahmed (Country General Manager) “Microsoft aspires to introduce education related solutions which will enable the community of students and educators to realize their potential through the power of technology and to remove the barriers in the effective use of technology”.

Source: Link

ICTs in Pakistan


Development? — ICTs speak!

Throughout the previous five to six years of my life I have indeed seen a massive spread of Information communication technology in Pakistan. Since I have been a part of this digital revolution in almost all ways it’s my generation which has the say in this regard; for the youth of Pakistan is the only portion of society benefitting from ICTs.

The “technology boom” as they say has been much exploited by the government of Mr. Musharaf (and his team) for making a case in favor of his services for the development of the country. It is undeniable that this technology flood occurred in the period of year 2001 onwards. From PCs being few and far between and cell phones being a rare sight, here we stand in 2009 with computers being a necessity of our lives, broadband being made available to even remote areas of urban infrastructure, largest WIMAX network being installed in country and the cellular subscribers around 90 million. A big question is: has this technology revolution been carved out by visionary leadership, prudent policies and foresighted development plans or it had to happen no matter what?

I won’t speak up on my own behalf: let’s hear from ICT development indexes!

“The latest edition of Measuring the Information Society features the new ITU ICT Development Index. The Index captures the level of advancement of ICTs in more than 150 countries worldwide and compares progress made between 2002 and 2007. It also measures the global digital divide and examines how it has developed in recent years. The report also features a new ICT Price Basket, which combines fixed, mobile and broadband tariffs for 2008 into one measure and compares it across countries. The analytical report is complemented by a series of statistical tables providing country-level data for all indicators included in the Index.” read more


Alright so lets face it! where do we stand?

Pakistan:

  2002 2007 Change
Rank 146 127 19
IDI 0.89 1.46 0.57

These figures seem impressive if compared to the immediate neighbors of Pakistan in the ranking. India depreciated from 117 to 118 and IDI change being 0.4.  On the contrary Saudi Arabia leaped by 18 positions in the table. Now comparing globally: the overall average value of IDI in 2002 was 2.48 which increased to 3.40 in 2007 with the net increase being 0.92. Seeing the larger picture, it appears that we did develop our ICTs quite much but still not quite enough. Certainly in my opinion this index change doesn’t show that Pakistan had a frog-leap with regards to ICT development.

“The country that gained most worldwide in ranking is Pakistan, moving up 19 places (see Chart 4.3). With a rank of 127 it is still low and has a long way to go towards becoming an inclusive information society. But progress has been significant in the past five years, mainly because in 2002 there was almost no ICT access and usage in the country, whereas in 2007, 8 per cent of households had computers and Internet user penetration reached 10.7 per cent. Pakistan has made less progress on the skills sub-index, which scores relatively low.” link     

The broadband internet penetration is still less than 1%! Striking isn’t it? PTCL has provided broadband on the landline to almost all PTCL subscribers and still we have this much low percentage. Major contributors are the lack of purchasing power of people and the very low computer literacy in my opinion. In villages hardly one or two PCs are there and the PTCL exchange doesn’t see it feasible to provide the DSL access to the whole exchange of villages. We need a lot more to do to bring people to use ICTs and to develop content targeting villagers. They simply do not see it useful to use ICTs.

Again with regards to the prices of ICT basket, which calculates an average based on the charges of fixed line calls and cellular calls plus SMS and the fixed broadband rate, Pakistan ranks 98, way below India at 74. The pricing chart suggests that in Pakistan and India the ICTs are much cheaper than the countries having same IDI ranking as theirs. This however, does not necessarily depict that we are at any advantage. ICTs may be cheaper but they are not being used in Pakistan for development of country: we really are not utilizing the potential of ICTs. With respect to fixed line charges India and Pakistan are close by at positions 103 and 106 respectively. We often brag about the reduced telephone call rates in our country but the rankings suggest that Pakistan is still not quite cheap. Bangladesh is cheaper in the lowest group. In mobile cellular sub basket Pakistan is at 76 while India is still ahead at 64. As a consequence we are in top ten economies in the lower group to have the cheapest rates, while India lies in lower-middle group: ahead of us! In fixed broadband we stand at 102 and India at 73! We need to really improve here. India again comes in top 10 economies in lower-middle group and Pakistan is nowhere.

All these yardsticks of ICT development clearly depict that we have a long way to go in developing our ICTs and to bring them to use in the development of our country. Being a member of technical society of Pakistan I voice my concern over the poor use of ICTs by us. We lack proper content be it in education, commerce, governance, health; we need to pay closer attention to bringing ICTs to use for solution of our real problems. A poor village person might not get immediate benefit by provision of access to a computer in his agriculture but he might certainly benefit in getting connected to world and to voice his concerns and complaints to authorities through e-governance. Similarly, getting a high bandwidth link might not be of any use to a person living in remote area, but ICTs can certainly help him/her get access to a doctor.

We need to think objectively and analyze the problems we all are facing: blaming it to dogs is not gonna help in any way. Let’s take steps to address key challenges of Pakistan and use ICTs for this purpose.

 

Is Pakistan Really “Participating” in One Laptop Per Child?


How many countries are really participating in One Laptop Per Child? Do you know? Does Nicholas Negroponte know? I only know that the definition of “participation” is rather loose right about now.

On one end of the spectrum, we have Australia, where two laptops somehow mean a pilot. On another end we have Pakistan, a country that really has need as Farrukh Ansari says in an OLPC News comment:

Could anyone tell me that how i can get this laptop for my kids, they are keen to use it, but as i live in Karachi, Pakistan, how i can get it. Please, someone help me to find the way to get it.

 

Well Nicholas Negroponte says Farrukh will soon be in luck:

We are talking to the Philippines and Pakistan – I’m convinced that’s going to happen.

Dr. Negroponte has reason for optimism. He has the commitment of the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Shaukat Aziz. According to an APP news article from November 29, 2006:

Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz said Wednesday the government will consider the feasibility for making low-cost laptop computers available to school going children in Pakistan. 

He was talking to Nicholas Negroponte, who is the head of the MIT Media Laboratory and Chairman of a non-profit organization called One-Laptop-Per-Child (OLPC), which promotes the production of laptops for children at low rates.

The Prime Minister asked the Ministry of IT and Telecom to form a committee to look into the feasibility of such an initiative.

read more

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