Punjab all set to unveil IT policy
The Punjab government is giving final touches to the country’s first-ever provincial information technology policy to boost growth in the sector.
The policy draft said it revolves around six core principles: education, economy, empowerment, employment, entrepreneurship and engagement.
Number of IT firms in Pakistan has almost doubled with an average growth rate of approximately 7.4 percent in the last decade.
During the same time, IT and IT-based exports increased to $519 million. Industry officials said the exports stand at three billion dollars.
The provincial IT policy draft said significant gains have been achieved, yet according to the Global Competitiveness Index 2015, Pakistan falls behind most of the countries in terms of absorption of IT and IT-enabled services.
“During the last one decade, Punjab has recorded an even higher growth rate than the national average, at about 10.9 percent.” “These entail significant gains, which are a direct result of the National ICT (information and communication technology) Policy 2000 and are worth commendation,” it said.
“Despite these significant gains, there is still room for considerable improvement.” The Global Competitiveness
Index 2015 suggests that Pakistan lags behind most countries in terms of absorption of IT and IT-enabled services in education and in everyday life.
After 18th amendment into the constitution, the provincial governments have been entrusted with additional powers to act in certain domains. Since 2000, the IT paradigm has changed significantly with new technologies and ideas such as internet of things and big data taking the forefront.
There is, therefore, a need to revisit the IT policy introduced in year 2000 and enable the provinces to take lead in the matter. With this backdrop in mind, the Punjab government is introducing the Punjab IT Policy 2016, which aims to position Punjab as the IT research and development and innovation hub of Pakistan.
During the last decade, the provincial government heavily invested in the creation of a knowledge-based economy as well as a more accountable and inclusive government through the use and adoption of technology. It was the first province to take back the broadband tax, which made the broadband cost relative 17 percent cheaper.
Smart monitoring of schools programme monitors teacher and student attendance as well as provision of facilities in 52,695 public schools, encompassing more than 10 million students and 339,000 teachers.
More than 5,000 high schools have been provided with computer labs. In order to overcome the challenges of ghost schools and poor learning outcomes, private sector enterprises, such as Care Foundation and TeleTaleem were handed over the control of public schools. Citizen feedback monitoring program received the World Bank Innovation Fund Award.
Under the model police stations initiative, 440 out of 709 police stations in the Punjab have computerised FIR-filing mechanisms in addition to crime mapping and e-monitoring. Plan 9, Pakistan’s first business incubator, has graduated 130 start-ups till date, which got a combined valuation of more than $60 million.