***This Article was written for Pakistan Telecommunication Authority to be served with concrete recommendations in ICT development.
My work many evolves around scope of ICT in Pakistan with a brief summary of its general use over all. This reveals imperative information about widespread use of ICT in public, private sector organizations with emphasis on other marketing niches to attract investment in our country.
Introduction Of ICT.
The convergence of telecommunication and computer technology has given rise to what is generally called information and communication technology or ICT.
Information and Telecommunication Technology:
Looking at ICT in contemporary era, which has multi-faceted usage and vast benefits for the masses; enormously encompassing rapid advancement and compulsory improvement in their routine life. The systematic and organised use of this giant entity can leave miraculous blessings for city dwellers which could be benefited from for years with evident margin of improvement with time passing by. After tangible advancements in the realm of Information Technology, one can see clearly the impact of revolutionary changes in one’s life where ICT has been indispensably incorporated in everything. Its overwhelmingly mammoth contribution in both public and private sectors has persuaded people to utilize it on daily basis for their ease and comfort. Today, the life of a common man, without the use of ICT is impossible which has stimulated fresh oxygen into them. This, by and large; Omni-present organism has had direct intervention in people’s life, habituating them to extent that their cycle of life would come to a standstill provided they had not used it for some time.
As mentioned previously of the vast implications and use of ICT, I would like to elucidate it further to unfold the many layers of this entity, massively covering all areas of our life. Since the planet earth has turned into a global village with more cautious move towards greener environment, ICT has captured the heart of the people. Their daily life is inextricably linked with the use of it so much so that less educated and illiterate people get accustomed to it within short span of time and include it in their daily life with ease. From making of a needle to enrichment of uranium, the keen involvement of ICT cannot be neglected which assist its administrative wing, operations, marketing, research and development and other departments to liaise confidently without any vacuum or technical glitches. Gone is the time when people would cling to old and rusty typewriters and word processors costing them time and money as well as affecting our environment in excessive use of papers and ink ribbons. Today, a business, small or large, cannot afford to use old-fashioned tools for running of the business due to the nature of cost and time involvement. Instead computers, portable projectors and other relevant technological tools are used to meet larger and growing demands of their business. ICT’s inclusion into a business means safer, faster, better and more accurate data processing, correspondence and records keeping. On the contrary, it does not require much space to keep archives safe and securely protected. Not only that, the archives are dust-free and instantly accessible for efficient use. All government departments are compelled to use ICT as the principal means of their business which enhances their performance as well as providing them with efficient service for inter-linked work and proficient liaison. Most importantly, defence, law enforcement agencies and judiciary have to use this facility for robust and time effective performance. This, on the other hand is, used to teach pupils on modern patterns as capable use of ICT yields far reaching results. Shopkeepers, merchants and vendors ought to use ICT in their day to day business although the degree, size and level of the use could vary, depending on the size of their business. The effective use of ICT is not restricted to daily life of a layman but it has also greatly helped human beings to broaden their horizon to boundaries of other planets which enabled them to set stable footing on the planet moon, advancing proudly towards Mars. Due to ICT, they are making successful technological experiments to find evidence of life on other planet. The astounding discoveries in space are greatly indebted to sophisticated use of ICT, encouraging and motivating us to look beyond the planet earth. Without the use and benefits and ICT, our travel to other planets could have been a mere dream. Many developed countries have their satellite in the orbit, taking significant eventful help from this scientific apparatus to serve their country satisfactorily. Not only this, scientists are also using ICT in making experiments to find cure to ailments which were incurable till 50 years ago.
The Use of ICT For Pakistan:
We have discussed the use and benefits of ICT in general as above where the world over it has proved to be significantly essential tool for daily life and long term use. Now, we are going to shed some light with special context to Pakistani society, where it can bring unexpectedly large quantifying changes. With better implementation and use of ICT, our country can be altered into a just and civilized one where people’s life at grass roots level can be positively affected. If we start working on this mega project with full dedication and determination, we will reinvent Pakistan, sensitizing a great sense of nationalism and leaving unforgettable hallmarks on general public. Renewed spirit and sense of nationalism could be inculcated into them via its widespread use by respecting the law of the land, paying all due taxes, hence, contributing vigorously towards its progress. It will also prevail good sense of utilization of public funds as they will assimilate the functions of the system better, know their fundamental rights, leading them to realize about their public and civic responsibilities.
ICT And Public Sectors:
We know about the existing structure of public sector organizations in Pakistan which demand greater revamping to provide first class service to general public and assist Government effectively.
Administrative staff of various public sector organizations is still using old-fashioned type writers, word processors to carry out their daily official communications. Dusty official records need more space, demanding recruitment of more staff for protection and security. It will also increase inward and outward carriage of these record incurring extra costs to government exchequer manifold. The above said administrative and warehouse expenses could be minimized with alternate use of ICT in form of sophisticated computers and its accessories. For better communication and interaction within the division, audio-visual aid could be incorporated tidy and efficient use of presentations, meetings and lectures. Tele and video conferencing could be added advantage of an organization but thanks to ICT. Installation and use of these scientific tools will greater improve service level reducing unnecessary costs, hence, contributing towards greener environment. Besides, unmanageable burly piles of papers, letters and official records could be wound up in small brief-case type CPUs of computers, greatly saving misuse taxpayers money. Rest assured that we have adopted these procedures to lessen waste of public funds; we can easily link these modern tools to various interactive servers at different designated points for secure, accurate and prompt transfer of data/info. Performance and communications will also improve manifold, saving time, money and extra costs.
The worst is the condition of administrative set up of our law enforcement agencies and judiciary which scares off general public by piles of dusty records, handwritten challans, bail forms, bail orders let alone type writers and word processors. We know these flaws are causing huge loss to public funds as hand written correspondence are time consuming in terms of writing, proof-reading and assimilating. On the other hand, the same materials made, using a computer could be corrected before a final draft is prepared as computers allow re-reading the typed words several times before print-outs. The technical drawbacks of these organizations are the lack of interest in creating a website for them as well as linking their details to other respective quarters for better communication and liaison. Websites are an integral part of today’s businesses which reflect its realm of work, type of business, functions, operations, hierarchy and production. They comprehensively contain all relevant information; a layman may need to know about the kind of business/organization after some browse. Ironically, federal and provincial government departments do not have properly maintained websites let alone the thought of using these websites for feedbacks and grievances.
ICT And Private Sectors:
Private sector organizations’ agility would very much depend on relevant public sector organizations. The latter are financed, administered, evaluated and controlled by government functionaries. In the event of any grievance(s) against private sectors, the general public could raise it with an ombudsman or an authoritative body monitoring and regulating the private sector organizations. General public could approach the regulating organization(s) with their grievance if not satisfied with privately run organizations but if these bodies do not run a website how would a layman know the redressal procedure? How government could keep a check on performance of private sectors? How would they be regulated? These technical lapses are hindering country’s progress, hence, not leaving good reputation on foreign investors. These flaws of the system have prompted private sector organizations towards people’s exploitation, maladministration and high-handedness.
These and many other problems, being faced by a layman in daily life, could be addressed properly providing we improve infrastructure and organism. Here, the necessity of ICT generates which will penetrate huge sense of corporate social responsibility (CSR), demanding both public and private sector organizations to align their businesses in accordance with law of the land. ICT, undoubtedly, could exceed one’s expectations provided that it were channeled and used appropriately.
ICT And Other Sectors:
Pakistan is a land of talented people whose innate abilities can fill up the vacuum in short span of time, hence, improving margin of success. They learn fast, excel better and perform to utmost satisfaction of others but the need is brush up these jewels. From within the country, we may find it hard to accept how many undiscovered talents we have but from abroad we can clearly give a helicopter view to analyze people’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, henceforth, making it easy to evaluate them better. In today’s ICT era, we need to luster our capabilities, demonstrate our skills and credentials to standard level to attract more investment into the country. ICT in Pakistan could work like umbrella, providing sustainable system, and unlocking windows of opportunity for the masses.
Having vigilant eyes on world economy, one knows better that multinational companies are changing obsolete business trends where they would adhere to public sentiments, patriotism and loyalty to their country of origin. At present, they are looking for different ways to save money without affecting confidence of their consumers. ICT, thus, possess the magnetic power to attract huge foreign investment into the country. Developed countries of the world would look for competence, intellect and capabilities of developing countries overseas to meet their business requirements and necessities of life.
Using ICT as a means, we can attract foreign investors by providing them with outsourcing services in various business capacities. Call center industry is one of them which fulfils the requirements and needs of foreign companies to deal with day to day business queries, feedbacks, grievances and complaints of their customers. Since this is a huge industry and possesses sizeable scope of growth, it can be supported with relevant departments of verification and quality control, customer services, sales and retention and back office etc. These sections within a call center industry need to use Information and Communication Technology to liaise with internal and external stakeholders. ICT’s provision in this realm of business is essential to meet the requirements of their customers. Call centers could be setup to meet their business requirements. In Pakistan, people are eloquent with clear pronunciation and understanding of English. Investments by foreigners into this arena would create job opportunities meeting job scarcity, hence, reducing ratio of crimes and unemployment. Call center industry is massively large, generating revenues in billions per annum as international companies having their interests and business setups in developed countries require to meet the demands of their customers on consistently low cost.
Besides, other stakeholders of imported goods could be persuaded to have satisfactory check on goods being prepared as work execution could be viewed via CCTVs round the clock by investors whenever they wish to. These images could be incorporated into their websites for live viewing during working hours which will enhance their confidence, exceeding their expectations and attracting more foreign investments into for the country. Interaction with concerned stakeholders could be made available via tele and video conferencing. The latter example could be run on experimental basis on our textile industry in view of contemporary efforts made by the government to extend trade channels to other European countries and vibrant US markets.
We cannot overrule the use of ICT in meeting the needs of shortage of electricity. Take Thar Coal Reserves as an example; which contains about 850 Trillion Cubic Feet surpassing oil reserves of Saudi Arabia and Iran whose reserves approximately weigh to 375 billion barrels in total. The reserves at Thar Coal estimated at 850 trillion cubic feet (TCF) of gas, which is about 30 times higher than Pakistan’s proven gas reserves of 28 TCF. According to Dr Murtaza Mughal, President of Pakistan Economy Watch in a statement said that these reserves of coal worth USD 25 trillion can not only cater the electricity requirements of the country for the next 100 years but also save almost four billion dollars in staggering oil import bill. Just 2% usage of Thar Coal Can Produce 20,000 Mega Watts of Electricity for next 40 Years and if the whole reserves are utilized, then it could easily be imagined how much energy could be generated. The coal power generation would cost Pakistan PKR 5.67 per unit while power generated by
Independent Power Projects cost PKR 9.27. It requires just 420 Billion Rupees of Initial Investment, whereas Pakistan receives about 1220 Billion rupees from Tax per annum. Chinese and other companies had not only carried out surveys and feasibilities of this project but also offered 100 percent investment in last 7 to 8 years which, unfortunately, has been disregarded by interest groups within corridors of powers.
There are umpteen examples of beneficial use of ICT as a main source of country’s revenue generating factor. It, in essence, can illuminate people’s life due to its vast usage and implications. We cannot ignore the fast changing technological advances bringing ample satisfactory improvements in people’s life.
- With prompt and efficient use of ICT, all government departments could be trained to create a website of own, updating and maintaining regularly with ample accessible info for general public.
- These could be linked to the main server and visitors could be encouraged to log their grievances, feedbacks, queries electronically with satisfactory timely response to them where deemed necessary.
- Law enforcement agencies such as police could be provided with URLs and every URL must include full details of area-wise police stations, updating round the clock with easily searchable helpful sections. Audio-visual communication could be improved for successful on-ground operations with added aerial support in aid of satellite.
- Same strategy could be adopted for other law enforcement agencies such as traffic police, border security forces, coastal guards etc.
- Rules, regulations could be enacted by authoritative bodies to monitor, evaluate and regulate private sector organization to constantly update their websites with sufficient info, grievance procedure, feedback and dealing and responding to queries electronically.
- Strategies be chalked out to attract foreign investors for formation of their call centers in Pakistan on competitive prices with high level of service.
- Industries be regulated and checked properly for maintenance of health and safety, laborers rights so that foreign investors be attracted via use of ICT.
- ICT could be used at all schools for audio-visual activities for better understanding of lessens.
- SUPARCO and defense divisions be linked for better coordination and protection of the country with full satellite support as per their requirements.
- Mobile industry and internet facilities could be enhanced with efficient use of ICT.
- Air traffic signals could be recorded to prevent perpetration of crimes and terrorism.
- Airports could be linked with respective heads, monitored and controlled round the clock with use of ICT.
- Internal and external exist points in the country could be monitored round the clock with use of ICT for the curb of crimes and terrorism.
- Using ICT, all ports, their staff on duty, patrolling members could be liaised with round the clock to control borders and ports.
- Definition taken from a book, “Information and Communication Technology in organizations” Adoption, Implementation, Use and Effects by Harry Bouwman, Bart Van Den Hooff, Lidwein Van De Wijngaert, Jan van Dijk, first Published in Great Britain in 2005 by Sage Publications, 1 Oliver’s Yard, 55 City Road, London, EC1Y 1SP.
- Thar Coal Reserves is an Article of Syeda Mahwish Fatima Naqvi, living in a metropolitan city of Pakistan. She is part of Sooper Articles Authors Community since January 16th 2009 and the contents of the article were quoted with her permission.