ICT survey stresses need to promote internet usage in Pakistan

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  • Only 14pc Pakistanis use social media websites
  •  Gap between rural and urban areas for mobile phone usage is only 3pc
  • As many as 68pc of Pakistani men use mobile phones as compared to 43pc women

The results of a demand-side survey of telecom users of Pakistan were revealed this week in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

Conducted by LirneAsia, an ICT research firm, the survey focused on the demand side of telecom users in 18 markets in Asia, Africa and Latin America. LirneAsia said that it interviewed over 38,000 individuals across the markets to study how users consume technology in these regions.

As per the report, Pakistan’s mobile phone teledensity stands at 57 per cent, i.e. there are 114 million unique mobile phone users in Pakistan.

Interestingly, the gap between rural and urban areas for mobile phone usage is only 3 per cent, i.e. 59 per cent individuals in urban areas own a mobile phone while 56 per cent of the population in rural areas have a mobile phone device.

The gender gap for mobile phone usage in Pakistan is fairly high, as 68pc of Pakistani men use mobile phones as compared to just 43pc of Pakistani women who have their personal mobile phone devices. This is the second highest gender gap in all of the Asian countries surveyed.

However, the income doesn’t impact much on mobile phone ownership as 69pc Pakistanis from below-average income own a mobile phone, while 76pc Pakistanis from high-income group own mobile phones.

LirneAsia survey found that 36pc of mobile owners got connected in the last five years, while 2pc, or 4 million, of Pakistanis, own a laptop or desktop computer, which is the lowest in the region.

The survey found that over half of Pakistani citizens own a basic phone, while 25pc use feature phones and 22pc Pakistanis use smartphones.

The study revealed that Pakistan has the lowest smartphone penetration of all the countries surveyed, barring the poorest two – Rwanda and Mozambique.

Smartphone penetration in urban centres stood at 33pc as compared to 16pc in rural areas while feature phone usage in urban areas is around 23pc as compared to 26pc in rural areas.

Basic phones (touchpad phones without any internet) usage stands at 44pc in urban centres as compared to 58pc in rural areas.

The gender gap for those who use smartphones and feature phones isn’t high, meaning that almost the same number of men use a smartphone as compared to women.

The survey also found that 77pc of Pakistanis use a single sim while 19pc of phone users use two sims. On the other hand, 3pc customers use 3 sims while just 1pc use 4 sims.

Moreover, 20pc customers in urban areas use multiple sims as compared to 26pc customers in rural areas, indicating that multiple sim usage is more common in rural areas — an unusual trend when compared to all other markets around the world.

It is interesting to note that male customers are more likely to use multiple sims – 28pc men use multiple sims as compared to 15pc women.

More educated people also tend to use multiple SIMs – 34pc educated customers use multiple SIMs as compared to 22pc uneducated customers with multiple sims.

Only 17pc (34 million) of Pakistanis use the internet. Astonishingly, more than 63pc of Pakistani users don’t even know what internet is. It was also revealed that only 14pc of Pakistanis use social media websites.

If you are thinking that this number is a lot less than PTA’s reported numbers, then according to LirneAsia, it is because the survey only includes the unique internet users.

This essentially means that internet penetration has still got a lot of potential for growth and the numbers will only get better with time. This also warrants that there are more efforts required from all stakeholders to get Pakistanis online.

A good thing, however, is that a lot of rural population is online. In fact, almost the same number of rural population as compared to the urban population is online.

The gender gap for internet usage is something Pakistan needs to work on because 21pc of the male population uses the internet as compared to just 12pc of the female population.

The survey found that only 65pc of smartphone users consume internet, meaning that a lot of smartphone users are not using online — for various reasons. This chunk could go online very easily, given that their entry barrier is removed.

The most startling point to note is that a majority of Pakistanis — i.e. 69pc of non-internet users in Pakistan — don’t know what internet is, which essentially means that more awareness is required to let Pakistani people know the benefits of the internet.

Another 19pc of non-internet users in Pakistan said they don’t have access to the internet or smartphones.

The survey found that 39pc of internet users in Pakistan connect to the internet through free public WiFi, while other 25pc individuals connect to internet using the paid WiFi.

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