In an online seminar titled “Urban Connectivity Solutions for an Inclusive Digital Economy” organised by Facebook in collaboration with local partners, Facebook’s Director, Network Investments – Emerging Markets, Alex Aime, stressed the importance of internet connectivity for Pakistan’s economic development. He said, “Access to high-speed and reliable internet connectivity is pivotal to grow small- and medium-business, ensure equitable access to public services, and a foundational requirement for building smart cities. This is especially critical if Pakistan is to achieve its digital vision of an inclusive and sustainable knowledge-based economy.”
Panellists comprising of national and international industry and academia experts, including representatives from Jazz, Telenor Pakistan, PTCL, Nayatel, GSMA, and The World Bank, discussed various challenges and opportunities faced by the country to develop robust connectivity in urban areas, including Facebook’s recent investment to bring backbone fibre to the region.
Key topics discussed during the webinar included challenges in meeting connectivity policy goals, the importance of building a robust fibre broadband network, and the opportunities to embrace innovative urban internet connectivity and technology solutions with lessons from the Asian region.
The participants recognized Broadband and connectivity as engines of economic growth in Pakistan and emphasized that affordable, high-speed and reliable digital connectivity can pave the way for an economically stable Pakistan.
The seminar was a part of Facebook’s mission to close the global digital divide, which involves deep partnerships with the local ICT ecosystem to solve the three main challenges of availability, affordability and relevance, by exploring new ways to bring fast, reliable internet to those without it in countries such as, Pakistan.
Facebook recently partnered with Nayatel to enable internet access to 15 million Pakistanis across 8 cities in a landmark “first of its kind” investment. The project will involve laying high-speed fibre throughout the country.
The 2021 Inclusive Internet Index, an annual study conducted by The Economist Intelligence Unit and commissioned by Facebook, found that Pakistan ranks in the bottom quartile of the index and second to last in the Asia region. According to the study, Pakistan’s Internet quality ranks lowest in South Asia & is worse than Rwanda.
While access to internet services has increased in recent years, there remain significant challenges with usage as only one-third of households have internet connectivity. However, Pakistan’s government remains determined to realize the Digital Pakistan vision.