KARACHI: Pakistan needs to address the challenge of low mobile internet adoption to maximise the potential of digital transformation and increase economic contribution of the mobile industry, according to a research report launched by the GSMA, an international trade body of mobile network operators.
The telecom system contributes around $16.7 billion, 5.4% of gross domestic product (GDP), however the report states that the country’s rapid population growth could increase pressure on the existing infrastructure.
The report also states that smartphone adoption in Pakistan is 37 percent compared to an average 48 percent in South Asia. Mobile phone connections exceeded 154 million in the country. Of them, 62 million of these are based on mobile broadband technologies. “Pakistan significantly lags other countries in the region in terms of mobile internet adoption,” GSMA said in its country-oriented report. “Even when access exists via available network connectivity, mobile adoption still lags behind.”
GSMA suggested the use of mobile platforms for national development plans to incorporate devices for improving gender equality, health, education and reducing poverty.
It further said that while mobile ownership is relatively high among men, the country has one of the largest mobile ownership and mobile internet usage gender gaps in the world, “which limits overall penetration of mobile subscriptions”.
The trade body also said there is need for more early-stage investment and a more investor-friendly legal framework that would strengthen the ecosystem.
In its report, GSMA suggested enhancing digital and financial inclusion and stated that Pakistan’s population was still in transition and timely actions were needed for harnessing the benefits of digitalisation.
“Mobile offers the most extensive and inclusive platform to access the internet and digital technologies, which are vital for the Pakistani economy and its growth in an increasingly connected world,” said GSMA Head of Asia-Pacific Julian Gorman.