Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Pakistan Deploys Information Technology to Improve Services and Cut Corruption

IT projects ranging from automated meter reading and computerized land records management to online education and mobile banking are now at various stages of implementation across Pakistan.  In a report released today, the World Bank calls these projects "unprecedented in the public sector in developing countries". The objective of these efforts is to reduce corruption, increase productivity and improve service delivery in both private and public sectors. Here's a brief description of five key areas where information technology penetration is visible:

1. Automated Meter Reading:

Automatic Meter Reading (AMR) project has been rolled out across the country with the help of United States Agency for International Development (USAID).  It is aimed at reducing power theft which accounts for 20-30% of all power generated in Pakistan. It will provide accurate electronic meter readings with little human intervention, using technology to transmit meter readings data via GSM/GPRS and Radio Frequency. It is expected to help power distribution companies (DISCOs) to monitor electricity consumption trends for different consumer categories, understand demand patterns, reduce electricity losses significantly and increase their revenues. Initial AMR pilots indicate significant reduction of power theft in Lahore.

In addition to automatic reading of consumer meters, smart meters have been installed with the support of USAID on incoming and outgoing feeders at all nine government-owned electric utilities. These will help move toward building of a smart national grid to better manage power generation, transmission and distribution in the country.

2. Mobile Governance:

The Punjab government is deploying smartphone applications to crack down on absentee mobile government workers and their corrupt practices. As part of this project, the government employee must send his or her picture and a report of interaction with citizens along with GPS coordinates. For example, a agricultural pest control official required to visit farmers must file reports of his findings and actions in real time via a smartphone app.

An agricultural field monitor uploads a picture of himself and spotted pests on crops using a smartphone. This data is used to ensure visits happen and create easily-accessible time and spatial data. Source: World Bank
An SMS soliciting feedback from citizens is sent out after each such visit or interaction. Responses from users are logged into a central database, and the data then analyzed and mapped. Call centers have also been trained to contact those who do not respond or are unable to read the text due to illiteracy.More than three million users of public services have so far been contacted since the summer of 2012, with both positive and negative feedback, according to the World Bank report. “Sir, we went to the hospital yesterday. They asked for 1500 rupees [in bribes]. We didn’t have the money so we left,” reads one of the reports about a hospital in Lahore, the provincial capital. The feedback is actively monitored by the office the Chief Secretary – the top civil servant in the province – to manage the performance of officials.

Results of Google-sponsored Survey in Pakistan Source: Express Tribune

3. Computerized Land Records:

Provincial land departments in Pakistan regularly show up as the most corrupt in Transparency International surveys conducted every year. In fact, most Pakistanis refer to the culture of corruption in Pakistan as "patwari culture". For the uninitiated, a patwari is a low level official in the land department responsible for keeping land title records. Corrupt patwaris either deliberately misplace such records or delay issuing land title papers when citizens refuse to pay bribes.  With digitization of such records, citizens will be able to check and confirm titles to lands on a computer screen by entering  their computerized national identity card (CNIC) number. Corrupt patwaris are trying to undermine the computerization project.

4. Education and Training:

Pakistan has been at the forefront of using information technology to increase literacy and offer higher education. A pilot program in the country has demonstrated the effectiveness of pushing mass literacy through the use of cell phone text messaging capability.

A UNESCO has recently also started a post-literacy project in Pakistan based on mobile technology. The Mobile Based Post Literacy program is targeted at young rural women, aged between 15 and 25, by keeping them interested in literacy through the mobile phone.

The concept of virtual instruction is finding its way to K-12 education as well. Increasing number of Pakistanis are drawn to various online sites. Silicon Valley NEDians have launched Learntive, an effort to offer digitized lessons in high-school courses.  Virtual Education for All is a local Pakistani initiative extending the concept to primary level.

Virtual University(VU) and Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU) offer distance learning programs using information technology. Pakistan's Virtual University (VU) has won the Outstanding New Site Award 2012 for an Open CourseWare website which was created in 2011.

5. Mobile Banking:

Combination of growth of mobile phones and ease of mobile money transfers have enabled many Pakistanis to have access to financial services for the first time in their lives.

In a country where only 22% of the population owns bank accounts and more than 70% owns mobile phones, mobile banking is proving to be the fastest way to promote financial inclusion considered by experts to be essential to lift people out of poverty. Benefits include easy access for rural customers to banking services through agents in villages without bank branches, better documentation of the economy, enlarging of the tax-base and efficiency of economic transactions.


Increasing use of computers and mobile phones is enabling broad adoption of information technology in Pakistan. It has the potential to increase transparency, enhance individual productivity and improve standards of living of ordinary citizens.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Mobile Internet to Overtake Desktop in 2014 in Pakistan

Biometric Information Technology in Pakistan

Power Theft in Pakistan

Mobile Banking in Pakistan

Mass Literacy Through Mobile Phones

Online Education in Pakistan

Pakistan's Telecom Revolution


Siraj said...

u missing Nadra. that was biggest project ever. game changer, single most important tool against corruption.

by 2004-5 state bank had integrated all banks to NADRA. now state bank can trace flow of cash with in just few clicks.

Riaz Haq said...

Siraj: "u missing Nadra. that was biggest project ever. game changer, single most important tool against corruption."

Thx. I agree NADRA is a basic tool to help cut corruption in #Pakistan. I did a post on it in 2011: …

Anonymous said...

Cloud apps in Pakistan:

Emerging markets such as Pakistan, Vietnam, the Philippines and Malaysia are adopting cloud-based applications at a faster rate than India, according to Doug Hughes, Vice-President, Product Management (JAPAC), Application Development, Oracle, the $35-billion US-based IT company.

In the last few years, India has moved to a dominant market from an emerging market. However, countries such as Pakistan and Malaysia are challenging India by deploying cloud rapidly. Starting with a low base, cloud-based application gives them the flexibility not to invest in hardware or software but to rent them on a monthly basis, he told Business Line.

However, adoption of cloud-based applications in India is faster than in China, he said without giving any data.

While small- and medium-size Indian companies are embracing cloud, there is hesitancy among large companies on security concerns. Bridging the gap between conventional cloud solutions and traditional company applications is emerging as a growing trend across segments, he said.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an Express Tribune story on the use of tracking devices to monitor Afghan Transit Trade (ATT) through Pakistan:

In an attempt to reduce hurdles to trade, the government of Afghanistan has asked Pakistan to reduce the high cost of tracking containers and prime-movers as it is causing trouble for Afghan importers and businesses.
Afghanistan made the request at the fourth annual meeting of the Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Coordination Authority (APTTCA) held on October 8 and 9 in Kabul.
The Afghan side said their traders were being charged both for the tracking device installed on trucks and containers. They suggested that the cost of the device installed on prime-movers should be borne by the transport operator and also sought a reduction in the device cost.
In reply, Pakistan officials assured them that they would take up the issue with the stakeholders for its resolution.
The request from Kabul comes at a time when the government of Pakistan has vowed that it will set up an advanced information technology database and container tracking system in one month to stop theft of Afghan and Nato containers and discourage smuggling along the Pak-Afghan border.

Afghan officials also said that during the third APTTCA meeting held in October 2012 Pakistan agreed to allow partial shipment of consignments from December 2012, but the facility had not been provided so far.
Pakistan’s delegation responded that they were allowing partial shipment on case-to-case basis. The software and procedure for partial shipment was in place and would be operational in one month to address the hardships faced by Afghan importers.
Shedding long-standing mistrust, the governments of Pakistan and Afghanistan are fast coming closer to streamlining bilateral trade by removing barriers that have been encouraging smuggling and discouraging formal business.
In the meeting, the Afghan side was led by Deputy Minister for Trade, Ministry of Commerce and Industries Mozammil Shinwari and Pakistan’s delegation was headed by Commerce Secretary Qasim M Niaz.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's Bloomberg on 3G-4G auction in Pakistan:

Pakistan plans to auction licenses by March to run third- and fourth-generation mobile-phone networks, with both existing and new operators eligible to bid, the country’s telecommucations regulator chief said.
Pakistan Telecommunication Authority has hired Value Partners Management Consulting to advise on the sale, including the base price and number of licenses to be auctioned for a 15-year term, Chairman Syed Ismail Shah said in an interview in Islamabad yesterday.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s government expects to fetch between $1.2 billion to $2 billion as a result of the spectrum auction, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar told reporters Dec. 11.
“The licenses will be technology neutral and will be offered through an open bidding,” Shah said. “It will not only be for 3G, they can introduce any other advance technology including 4G.”
The telecommunications market was deregulated in 2004, and the number of mobile-phone users in the South Asian nation grew to 129.58 million as of September this year from 12.7 million in 2005, according to the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority.
The regulator plans to auction 30 megahertz of spectrum to new as well as existing operators that include Pakistan Mobile Communications Ltd.’s Mobilink, Telenor ASA’s local subsidiary, Warid Telecom of Abu-Dhabi group, the Pakistan unit of China Mobile Ltd. and Ufone of Pakistan Telecommunication, part-owned by Emirates Telecommunications Corp.
The government hasn’t specified how to divide the available spectrum. “It could be three lots of 10 megahertz each or there can be several combinations,” Shah said.
The regulator has yet to decide whether to leave it to the market to determine the tariff or if any regulatory intervention was needed. “We don’t want a price war because it compromises quality of services as well as profitability of companies.”

Riaz Haq said...

Here are highlights of a research report on Pakistan's telecom sector:

Despite an overall slowing in the country’s telecom market, Pakistan continues to grow its mobile sector; Mobile subscriber numbers were growing at close to 10% annually in 2011/2012, modest growth indeed compared with the earlier boom years; By mid-2013 there were around 125 million mobile subscribers for a penetration of 70%; Five mobile operators were competing vigorously for subscribers and revenue, all being able to claim a reasonable share of the market; Fifth-ranked Warid Telecom, however, was struggling and by 2013 was being put up for sale by its owner the Abu Dhabi Group; After many delays, 3G licensing looked as if it was proceeding in earnest with the auction scheduled for late 2013; it was more likely to be early 2014; To allow the spectrum auction to happen as planned the Prime Minister had approved relevant policy directives in October 2013; While Pakistan’s broadband internet penetration remained low in relative terms (less than 2% by mid-2013), there has been a significant surge recently in broadband services; The growth in wireless-based broadband has been especially important, representing around over 50% of subscriptions by 2013; Growth in the country’s fixed-line market remained sluggish, fixed teledensity standing at just over 3% in 2013, the numbers having actually fallen at times; One positive factor in the fixed market has been the success of wireless local loop technology which was supporting just over half of all fixed subscribers and looked to still be growing.

Riaz Haq said...

With a country that has been plagued by various negative connotations in recent years and has been notoriously labelled for being the most dangerous place on earth, it is certainly a surprising fact that Plan9 has created a niche for itself as the most reliable gateway of Pakistani tech industry at national and international levels.

Pakistan has bagged itself an incubator which is competing against time to be the greatest and largest tech/ business incubator not only in the country but also in the Asian region. Punjab Information Technology Board took the plunge and Dr. Umar Saif pulled the right strings to drive the creative chaos along the right direction.

It has incubated around 30 startups over the past one year, 20 have survived and 10 have failed. Some have reached milestones while a few reached to the conclusion that entrepreneurship might not be their cup of tea.

“Tech entrepreneurship is such a powerful concept that if inculcated meticulously can totally rebrand Pakistan and Plan9 is just one such stepping stone,” says Nabeel A. Qadeer who heads this initiative and has huge yet promising plans for 2014.

Currently, Plan9 is acting as a haven for early stage startups that are in dire need of a push to get into the market. Its vast network of mentors from all over the world who are fully committed towards the cause and vision of the incubation programme have facilitated the process in numerous ways.

Why the Need for Plan9?

Plan9 envisions to lay foundations of, and developing an entrepreneurial eco-system, to support the staggering economy of Pakistan. A multi-dimensional strategy has been adopted to achieve this.

A significant percentage of the literate population leaves the country as a consequence of ‘Brain Drain’; by providing economic opportunities to them along with mentoring of white-collared employees of the tech industry, Plan9 aims to retain outstanding IT talents in the country.

The long-term goal of investment by the provincial government is to invite job creators instead of job seekers with the intention of bringing equilibrium and stability, even sustainability, to the job market.

The working model of this incubation programme is different than that of top rated business incubators globally; neither incubation fee is charged for the services provided; nor is equity sought for investment. All facilities are given free of cost for a period of 6 months in every cycle.

Meet the Startups

The third cohort of Plan9 is bursting with immense energy and amazing ideas. Here is what they are working on and their products cater to the needs of local and international markets simultaneously:

Apppulp: Measure a video game’s quality by using one major factor: its ability to engage users over and again.

Appography: Mobile app ‘Vivid’ enables users to tackle customer service issues—by “ending the endless wait and annoyance of a customer service call” Online travel portal caters to the inbound needs of Pakistani travelers.

Bu Bio Tech: Develops prosthetic hands that work on neural networks of the human body.

OneStep Solutions: Reinvents driving around smartphone to unlock real-time vehicle information.

Multiplex Pakistan: Develops online specialty stores focusing primarily on baby products.

404 Solutions: Develops a GPS enabled bus tracking system. A communication portal between students and universities.

Nutrionize: Developing an online directory helping people identify, connect and review local doctors in their areas.

Court Piece: Development of online versions of Pakistan’s traditional social games.

Pak CNC: CNC Water Jet cutting-machine for industrial purposes.

FANZ Solution: Online ticketing of bus travel.

ServeMe: An online service to connect blue-collar workers to clients.

- See more at:

Riaz Haq said...

Installing smart meters at customer premises is an essential part of the smart grid project in Pakistan or anywhere else. It also includes: Advanced Metering Infrastructure solutions including metering and backend software and server system that shall be deployed at all nine DISCOs as well as the National Power Control Center (NPCC). The project has been designed to eliminate incidences of unscheduled load shedding by accurately assessing total load demand information on a near real time basis, and thus shall impact the lives of the hundreds of millions of people connected to the national electricity grid network.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an Express Tribune story on the economic impact of 3G service in Pakistan:

One of the biggest questions asked when the arrival of 3G services is discussed is its benefit to the public purse.
While there is no official study available that could provide a credible assessment of the impact on economic growth and subsequent contribution in tax revenues, there is a report that gives a snapshot of the next five years. The study, conducted by UK’s Plum Consulting, has its limitations but gives an overview of what is to come.

Plum Consulting is a specialised consulting firm offering strategy, policy and regulatory advice on telecoms, online and spectrum issues. It conducted the study last year but did not factor in fourth generation spectrum in its calculations.
What we know from Plum Consulting is that the overall size of the economy will grow by Rs380 billion to Rs1.18 trillion in the period up to 2020 after the roll out of 3G spectrums. The present size of Pakistan’s economy is estimated at Rs26 trillion and a minimum addition of Rs380 billion means a positive impact of 1.5% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Pakistan Telecommunication Authority Chairman Dr Ismail Shah said that the Plum study does give a broader trend. He said the rolling out of 4G spectrum will add another 20% in the GDP value assessed by Plum Consulting.
Plum Consulting says that economic studies have shown that there is a positive relationship between broadband penetration and GDP growth in both high and low income countries. Estimates of the impact of a 10 percentage point increase in broadband penetration on GDP growth rates range from 0.1% to 1.5%, with higher impacts found in lower income countries.
It added that the net present value of additional GDP over the period to 2020 is Rs1.18 trillion in the High Demand scenario and Rs490 billion in the Low Demand scenario. This is equivalent to an average 0.13 percentage points increase in the annual GDP growth rate over this period.
Plum Consulting observed that additional GDP could yield additional tax revenue for the government in the range of Rs23 billion to Rs70bn. It further said that in a high-penetration scenario, it could generate up to around 900,000 jobs by 2018, if spectrum had been released in 2013.
“As broadband is a general purpose technology it has the potential to bring significant benefits across the whole economy, and so we expect the release of spectrum for mobile broadband to have a positive impact on employment across agriculture, industry and services sectors”....

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt of a NY Times Op Ed on Punjab, Pakistan:

Concerns about Punjabi domination have soared since the spring of 2013, when Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, of the Pakistan Muslim League (P.M.L.N.), was returned to power for the third time. He belongs to a Lahore-based industrial family with close ties to Punjab’s business elite and a can-do attitude to governance that features flashy development schemes. The perception that Punjab is batting in a league of its own has mounted under the Sharifs. During the general election campaign last year, while the Pakistan People’s Party, which is perceived to represent Sindhi interests, was making welfare cash transfers to impoverished women, the P.M.L.N. was distributing laptops to students.

Most of Karachi’s 18 million residents have to rely on private transport. But Lahoris commute on a rapid metrobus system, and a similar initiative in Islamabad will be the federal capital’s most expensive road project to date. While the Punjabi government is digitizing land records, automating administrative transactions and promoting what it calls e-governance, the Sindh government faces a famine in Tharparkar.

Punjab has been able to progress because it has been relatively unimpeded by terrorism. Shahbaz Sharif, Nawaz’s brother and Punjab’s chief minister since 2008, publicly appealed to the Pakistani Taliban in 2010 not to attack the province, and the request was largely heeded. His P.M.L.N. government in Punjab has not clamped down on influential sectarian militant groups in the province, instead befriending their leaders to rally votes during elections.

Likewise, the P.M.L.N. government at the center started pushing for peace talks with the Taliban in September and then even more in November, when the Taliban threatened to carry out attacks in Punjab to avenge the killing of their former leader in a U.S. drone strike in North Waziristan. The central government is considering concessions, including swapping prisoners, granting an amnesty to Taliban fighters and even giving the group a political role in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas along the border with Afghanistan.

Government officials have repeatedly stated that a peace deal is necessary because military strikes against the Taliban would lead to reprisal attacks. Given the carnage that Karachi, Quetta and Peshawar have endured in recent years, many Pakistanis describe that policy as a ploy to sacrifice the tribal areas in order to save Lahore. Such perceptions only heighten interprovincial tensions, just at a time when the country needs to be more united than ever.

Riaz Haq said...

Less money moves through wireless transfers in India than in either Pakistan or Bangladesh, both of which have smaller populations.

As we report this week, in much of the developing world, mobile money is evolving. Initially just a means of making payments, it’s now becoming a platform for an entire financial-services industry. But one of the world’s biggest and poorest countries has remained immune to the attractions of mobile money. Despite the potential benefits, “the uptake has been limited,” says Graham Wright of MicroSave, a financial-inclusion organisation working in India. “And because of those challenges, the mobile operators are unsure about how much to invest in this business.”

That doesn’t mean there isn’t opportunity. India has 15 mobile money providers, second only to Nigeria. Of the 904 million mobile subscriptions in India, 371 million (pdf) are in rural areas. Analysts think that mobile money transfers in India could be worth $350 billion annually (paywall) by next year. Yet the state of the industry remains small: Less money moves through wireless transfers in India than in either Pakistan or Bangladesh, both of which have smaller, poorer populations.

So why, despite boasting 15 mobile money services, does India lag so far behind other developing nations?

The simple answer is regulation. India requires mobile operators to work with banks to provide the services. Mobile networks would like instead to have their own agents who can cash out the digital money into hard currency. Much of the infrastructure is already in place, because there are so many locations where customers can top up on airtime. But the mobile operators aren’t allowed to use those sales outlets as financial agents.
Yet the banks aren’t filling the gap. They have failed to serve rural areas, especially thinly-populated ones. Nor are they particularly keen on sending agents to operate in small villages. A report (pdf, p.31) on financial services for the poor, commissioned by the Reserve Bank of India, called the situation in both rural and urban India “grim,” with 64% of Indians lacking bank accounts. “The business case for providing mobile money services to the unbanked in the most remote rural areas of India is not appealing to banks,” reports the GSM Association (pdf), a trade body of mobile operators.

otr said...


Is Your Computer Sluggish or Plagued With a Virus? – If So you Need Online Tech Repairs
As a leader in online computer repair, Online Tech Repairs Inc has the experience to deliver professional system optimization and virus removal.Headquartered in Great Neck, New York our certified technicians have been providing online computer repair and virus removal for customers around the world since 2004.
Our three step system is easy to use; and provides you a safe, unobtrusive, and cost effective alternative to your computer service needs. By using state-of-the-art technology our computer experts can diagnose, and repair your computer system through the internet, no matter where you are.
Our technician will guide you through the installation of Online Tech Repair Inc secure software. This software allows your dedicated computer expert to see and operate your computer just as if he was in the room with you. That means you don't have to unplug everything and bring it to our shop, or have a stranger tramping through your home.
From our remote location the Online Tech expert can handle any computer issue you want addressed, like:
• - System Optimization
• - How it works Software Installations or Upgrades
• - How it works Virus Removal
• - How it works Home Network Set-ups
Just to name a few.
If you are unsure of what the problem may be, that is okay. We can run a complete diagnostic on your system and fix the problems we encounter. When we are done our software is removed; leaving you with a safe, secure and properly functioning system. The whole process usually takes less than an hour. You probably couldn't even get your computer to your local repair shop that fast!
Call us now for a FREE COMPUTER DIAGONISTIC using DISCOUNT CODE ( on +1-914-613-3786 or chat with us on

Riaz Haq said...

Zong will invest $1 billion in the next three to four years to deploy network for Next Generation Technologies including 3G/4G in maximum cities of the country in line with it business plans and continuity of the long-term friendship between China and Pakistan.
This was stated by Fan Yunjun, CEO Zong while official launch of 4G technology in Karachi with the roll out of new service in seven different cities of the country . The company plans are aggressive for 3G, 4G and even 2G and it will add 4,000 new high-tech sites by the end of 2014.
Zong is the first network of 4G technology that will bring the country a pride as Pakistan will become first in the index of highest broadband service from 93rd position from the present. It even left China in the race which is stand at 4th position on the scorecard.
Chinese operator is providing 3G service with a broadband speed of 42 Mbps and 4G LTE with 150 Mbps.
Zong is the biggest cellular operator in terms of 3G technology user base with nearly 866,000, Yunjun claimed. Zong is the choice of 47 percent of the subscribers using 3G technology among different operators who are also providing same service in the country, he claimed quoting an independent third party research.
He said the availability of the low cost smartphone is hampering the growth of 3G and 4G technologies but the company is working with different handset manufacturers to introduce those gadgets which could be affordable to maximum people in the country.
Zong is working to develop an ecosystem which helps promoting technology and its impacts on the lives and business of the people, hence different new ventures will be taking place within different companies to introduce various apps to subscribers in future.
Yunjun added that Zong 4G enabled SIM is highly secure, speedy and data capacity of 46KB whereas facilitating customers, a handset M811 handset is the first step to provide the customers with a complete bouquet of hardware and service provision.
Chinese operator is the fastest growing network in terms of subscribers as it acquired more than 50 percent connections among the overall base in the past three years reaching the overall numbers at 27.2 million at present.
The combination of 3G/4G technology along with 2G will add more number of customers in the future though Next Generation Technologies are made available in 19 cities.
The 4G technology is being launch in seven cities including federal and provincial capitals Faisalabad, Rawalpindi whereas it is already providing services of 3G in cities including Sargodha, Sukkur, Abbotabad, Gujrawala, Gujrat, Maradan, Chasma and Motorway

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan is poised to crack down on cyber crime as part of an effort to enhance digital commerce in the country, according to an article in The Nation. Senator Ishaq Dar, the country’s Finance Minister, announced yesterday that new legislation is forthcoming.

Senator Dar highlighted the importance of branch-less banking for Pakistan’s economy, and argued that electronic banking could reduce the rates of fraud while providing greater financial access to the most underprivileged segments of the nation. He said that the government’s efforts “to improve market structure and efficiency through modern infrastructure… will create jobs for lower income people, facilitate poverty alleviation, and promote human capital development.”

The minister also highlighted a new agreement between the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) and the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) as a part of this effort; the agreement is to implement biometric identification methods into banking services nationwide, an effort similar to one recently undertaken in Nigeria that will undoubtedly go a long way towards enhancing the security of digital banking. Pakistan’s efforts in these regards also echo those of its neighbor India, where the government is compiling a biometric registry of citizens to help facilitate a range of government services including provision of health care.

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan has launched a state-of-the-art system to help farmers calculate their crop losses to extreme weather more accurately and support the government in tackling hunger and malnutrition.

Late last month, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) installed the geospatial crop forecasting system at the Pakistan Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (SUPARCO) to improve the quality of agricultural statistics.

Muhammad Bashir, a 45-year-old farmer in the Narowal district of Punjab province, lost 12 acres (4.9 hectares) of his rice crop when it was washed away by flash floods in September.

"Erratic weather and flash floods hit our crops each year but there is no mechanism in place to get early warning and ascertain the exact loss," said Bashir, who owns 73 acres (29.5 hectares) of land.

Growers in flood-prone areas cannot earn enough to cover their outgoings because of regular disasters, and most even fail to repay bank loans due to crop damage, he said by telephone.

"If we get data on our crop yields and weather conditions well in advance, we can prepare a good budget for educating our children," he said. The government should introduce modern technology for the farming business, he suggested.

Pakistan's agriculture sector contributes a fifth of gross domestic product and generates work for just under half the country's labour force, according to the Pakistan Economic Survey 2013-14.

The recent floods damaged standing crops on 978,363 hectares (2.4 million acres) while estimates by government ministries and experts put losses to the economy at $14-15 million.


Faisal Syed, project facilitator at the FAO, said the new geospatial system would help both the government and farmers get accurate and timely data on crop yields and expected losses in the case of natural disasters like floods and droughts.

Under the system, funded by the U.S. government, SUPARCO uses Satellite Remote Sensing (SRS) and Geographic Information System (GIS) technologies to gather crop data.

Satellite imagery is taken twice a year, while field surveys are conducted during two cropping seasons in spring and autumn. SUPARCO then uses statistical models to estimate yields.

"The geospatial system will replace the archaic manual method of crop forecasting and help decrease costs of data collection," said Syed.

The system will initially cover only two provinces of Pakistan: Punjab and Sindh.

Floods wash away standing crops on millions of hectares each year in Pakistan, but the government has always lacked precise data on the damage to crops and yields, Syed added.

"A government cannot formulate cogent policies to address the issues of food security and malnutrition in the affected areas if it doesn't have proper data," he said.


Ibrahim Mughal, chairman of Agri Forum Pakistan, a body representing Pakistani farmers, said the federal and provincial governments set unrealistic targets for crop production each year so as to paint a positive picture of agriculture - which ultimately hurts the interests of growers.

The Crop Reporting Services department should be independent so it can adopt the geospatial system and relay accurate information to farmers free from government influence, he said.

"As long as the officers remain under pressure from the government, they cannot make public real data on the targets set for a crop and the expected yield," he said.

Political will should be focused rather on dealing with food security, malnutrition and erratic weather impacts, he said.

Mughal suggested the Punjab and Sindh governments should send crop data and weather forecasts to farmers each week via mobile phone to maximise the impact of the new system.

Riaz Haq said...

From Council on Foreign Relations:

With global spending on social cash transfers to unbanked populations totaling a half trillion every year, a World Economic Forum report estimates leakage rates for these programs range from 5 to 25 percent. This translates into $25 to $150 billion in benefits lost due to misidentification, misdirection, or fraud. The same report estimates that migrating government payments, including cash transfers, onto a digital platform could save as much as $46 billion per year.

Malik’s experience with NADRA in Pakistan speaks to the broader promise of integrating technology into government. NADRA’s biometrically enabled identification systems, widely issued smart identification cards, and direct payment systems have helped the Pakistani government improve its social programs. The state successfully used NADRA technology to administer disaster relief to 20 million citizens after a devastating flood in 2010 and to enroll poor women in a national financial assistance scheme. NADRA’s digital system has provided powerful tools for exposing fraud and corruption, and enabling greater accountability, better ensuring that target beneficiaries in Pakistan receive their social aid intact.

Still the benefits – in terms of efficiency and transparency – create potential adversaries in those that gain from opacity and leakages. Both speakers alluded to these potential challenges to the transformative use of technologies employed by NADRA and Segovia.

Malik and Faye’s work digitizing social programs are examples of creating sophisticated solutions to development challenges, and reflect the broad opportunities for governments, nonprofits, and donor agencies to think outside the usual development toolbox to make progress on poverty alleviation, inclusive growth, and greater economic prosperity.

Riaz Haq said...

Shahid Burki Op Ed in Express Tribune:

Pioneers of development economics based their growth models initially on two factors of production. Arthur Lewis, the West Indian economist who went on to win the Nobel Prize, focused on the transfer of workers from agriculture to industry as one important way of increasing economic growth. His model of development was built on two assumptions: there was, he argued, a large surplus of workers in the countryside, working mostly in agriculture. Their productivity was much lower than the labour employed in the urban economy. Simply moving workers from villages to cities and towns would increase output without decreasing agricultural production.
Capital was the other factor of production. This was in short supply in poor countries; to increase it, these economies had to invest much more in the economy. But their savings rates were low. To get these countries out of this vicious cycle, external capital flows were needed. That a two-factor production equation was enough to explain growth in the economies was questioned by the American economist Robert Solow.
Pakistan has missed a number of opportunities to join the high-performing countries of Asia. It did not develop an industrial base that could have produced goods in high demand in the large markets of the developed world. This was what propelled forward the ‘miracle economies’ of Asia. It also missed the opportunity made available by what the American journalist Paul Friedman called the “flattening of the world”. By this, he meant how the well-trained youth in Asia’s populous countries could use the internet to provide services to the increasingly labour-short economies in the developed world. Outsourcing won India and the Philippines rich rewards in terms of generating reasonably well-paying jobs for the young while also earning large amounts of foreign exchange.
The country could catch up employing technology for promoting growth and development. Policymakers must understand how the global production system has changed and will continue to change. To take just one example, Pakistan, using information and other technologies, could enter the supply chain for the large automobile industries of China and India. I will elaborate on this point in later articles.

Riaz Haq said...

The new trend of online educational assistance to students would soon become a viable alternative to academies which can be found in every nook and corner with a general perception to achieve good grades in examinations.

The idea of attending academies became popular a decade ago and even parents are also of the view that there was no concept of after-school tuition in their student life.

But now, a general perception has developed that a student, without attending academies, cannot get good marks.

Probably, this has been the reason for parents to blindly spend on their children's academies whether tutors are clearing the concepts or not that is usually not the concern but parents simply get satisfied from the fact that their child is getting "extra assistance for studies."

The other fact is that owing to mushrooming of academies, standards of teaching at schools have dropped with no efforts to fix them.

"All this has given rise to academy mafia which has plagued our society. We see tuition centres opening in every other street," Muhammad Iqbal, father of a student, said on Sunday.

He said such centres exploit both parents and students in the name of `quality education' while in reality, all this is a result of lack of `quality education' in schools and colleges.

Rahim Khan, guardian of a 9th class student, informed that the fast growing academy industry is a living proof that teachers are unable to deliver their concepts effectively.

What is even more painful is that many a time teachers deliberately do not clear concepts of their students so that they are left with no choice but to join their academies in the evening.

He termed this situation "very sad" and supported the trend of online education, which, he said, would be a viable alternative to throwing money to support a broken system.

"Our education sector is already bickering in pain. There is a dire need for institutes to come up with solutions to stop this exploitation," he opined.

The first alternative is Sabaq Foundation's website which is an online video tutorial website with free video lectures for Pakistani students. The website provides tutorials for four main science subjects -- Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry and Biology for SSC, FSc and O Level students. The best thing about this website is that all tutorials have been prepared and sequenced following the exact syllabus of respective boards Cambridge, Federal, Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) and Balochistan.

Another example is that of which is quite similar to Sabaq and provides lecture videos for four science subjects for FSc students.

So clearly, there are people who recognize the deficiencies of the current state of affairs and are working to resolve them.

When contacted, an education expert was of the view that non-profit initiatives

like these can be a game changer in society and once enough awareness is created about such free educational resources, students can

surely get rid of hassle and cost of after-school academies.

Riaz Haq said...

Shahid Abdullah has been in business long enough to spot a good opportunity. Abdullah is the president of the Sapphire Group, one of Pakistan’s largest textile companies with 16,000 employees, $800 million in annual revenues, and a global base of customers. But when his country started running out of electricity a decade ago, he switched gears and built a large power plant in Muridke, just north of Pakistan’s second largest city Lahore. “Moving into power generation was a step that made sense,” he says. “Not just from a business perspective, but also in terms of realizing our mission and contributing to the development of the communities in which we work and live.”

Abdullah’s calculation was simple. Lack of power is one of Pakistan’s burning needs. Electricity consumption is growing by close to 8 percent, and peak power demand exceeds supply by more than 4 gigawatts (GW), a massive amount. But his journey was far from easy.

The Muridke Power Plant generates 234 megawatts (MW), but from the start in 2010 it grappled with fluctuating fuel costs, which make up some 85 percent of its operating expenses. Fuel savings of just 1 percent could boost its net income by as much as 20 percent, but the downside was equally steep.

Abdullah started looking for a solution and learned about the Industrial Internet, a digital network connecting, collecting and analyzing data from sensors installed inside machines, including turbines that produce electricity. “His answer was in numbers,” says Azeez Mohammed, president and CEO of GE Power Generation Services in the Middle East and Africa, who started talking to Abdullah in 2014.

Mohammed proposed to embed hundreds of sensors and other digital instruments in Abdullah’s turbines, analyze the data they collect, and use the information to improve the plant’s performance, optimize production and reduce unplanned downtime. But Abdullah was cautious. “The last thing I wanted was to be a guinea pig in GE’s ‘first-of-its-kind’ experiment,” he laughs.

GE’s Mohammed, however, was convinced that the project would work. So much so that he proposed Abdullah a deal: GE would pay for the sensors and the software and then split all benefits with Sapphire under a win-win scenario.

With Abdullah on board, GE dispatched a team of technicians and software engineers to Muridke. They spent a month developing a self-learning analytical model based on huge amounts of data from the gas turbines and other plant assets at Sapphire. The model allowed them to predict changes in efficiency, electricity output and other outcomes under different production scenarios without having to make any changes to the equipment itself.

In October 2014 the team connected the system to the plant’s two GE 6FA gas turbines, which GE engineers specifically designed with the Industrial Internet in mind. By December that year, the Sapphire plant has started seeing the benefits.

The heart of the system is GE’s Predix software platform and an advanced analytics application called Asset Performance Management (APM). The app allows industrial assets talk seamlessly with each other in a secure manner, and uses analytics to make the equipment more efficient.

The GE team is now working to link power plant’s steam turbine to system. The software is so versatile it doesn’t mind that turbine was the Czech industrial company Skoda, not GE.

GE estimates the Industrial Internet could bring the Muridke Power Plant millions of dollars in benefits over the next decade.

Riaz Haq said...

Punjab IT Board digitizing government functions:

Punjab Government has launched Punjab Facilitation Center to provide different governmental services to citizens under one roof. In this regard, Punjab Government in collaboration with PITB (Punjab Information & Technology Board) has also released Asani Markaz app on Google Play Store to use digital technology for solving citizens’ problems with efficient and timely provision of services.

The services which Punjab Facilitation Center will integrate under one platform include

issuance of birth certificate
marriage certificate
death certificate
divorce certificate
character certificate
vehicle registration
token tax collection
vehicle transfer of ownership
learning driving licenses
traffic fine collection
Issuance of CNIC
NADRA E Sahulat and route permit
Asani Markaz app will guide public about the required documents for any specific service as mentioned above, its fee, payment procedure, timings and locations of facilitation centers. Additionally, an SMS will be sent to the citizens to inform them about the status of their application for a particular service.

This step to digitize the governmental services is taken to not only improve the governance but also make the maximum utilization of smartphones and recently introduced 3G & 4G services in the country. Furthermore, this step can help provide the service to citizens in timely manner, removing the agents/clerks in between who often take bribe to make tasks easier for certain citizens.

The Punjab Information Technology Board (PITB) has made the ongoing wheat procurement at 376 government procurement centers efficient and transparent across the province.
PITB Chairman Dr Umar Saif said this in a meeting here on Friday.
He told that the PITB had developed a smartphone application for the Food Department Punjab that enabled digitization of farmers\' data approaching procurement centers to sell their wheat crop.
He said the application was saving record of Bardana (bags) to farmers and wheat procured at daily basis that could be accessed by higher authorities too.
The application also enabled farmers to send their feedback regarding their experience at procurement center.

Punjab Information Technology Board (PITB) has released a mobile application for police or excise officers to identify any vehicle’s ownership with just one click on their smartphones. The step taken is said to be beneficial for the taxation department and citizens who forget to keep ownership documents with them.

Digitizing the functionalities of Excise Department will help in smooth running of its efforts to curb corruption and acquiring taxes in timely fashion. Moreover, the citizens will not face unpleasant situations of being narrated for documents in the middle of the road leading to time wastage and delay in routine tasks.

According to a recent post on PITB Facebook Page, the project “Integrated Command, Control, and Communication (IC3) Center” will be introducing smart monitoring of vehicles. It means that number plates of vehicles on the roads will be auto-recognized and registration numbers will be auto-saved in the database. This will help in maintaining a digital record for future smart analysis of movements of vehicles.

PITB has been introducing a lot of digital reformations for automating governmental functions lately.

Riaz Haq said...

Team #Pakistan wins 3 Gold, 1 Silver at #technology awards at #APICTA2015 in #Colombo #SriLanka …

The Pakistan Software Houses Association for IT & ITES delegation comprised of 50 members with 22 technology products, competing for the prestigious APICTA Awards against 197 products from 17 countries of the region.

Sri Lankan Minister for Telecom and Digital Infrastructure Harin Fernando was the chief guest at the awards ceremony, which was also graced by the High Commissioner of Pakistan in Sri Lanka Major General (retired) Syed Shakeel Hussain. Leading the way with the Gold were the teams from Eyedeus Labs for their new product “Ingrain”, Evamp & Sanga for their product Mobile Audio Streaming Service and students from the NUST College of Electrical and Mechanical Engineering for their research project Active and Intelligent Powered Ankle Foot Prosthesis for Trans-tibial Amputees.

The Silver Award was taken by a very young team from The Nest Technology Incubator in Karachi for their project Teddict. The winners from the Asia Pacific compete in this three-day regional event were judged by industry professionals, technology veterans and thought leaders from the APAC region.

International APICTA Judges from 17 countries who evaluated the categories in which Pakistan participated spoke about the consistently high standard of technology products presented by Pakistan, year after year. This year Team Pakistan performed superbly, with young people once again taking the lead. With the support of Samsung and Google for Entrepreneurs, P@SHA was able to take to Colombo, a number of young teams of Pakistani IT professionals under the banner of Team Pakistan.

The objective was to bring them face-to-face with the best technology companies, professionals and students in the Asia Pacific, to provide an opportunity to meet and form potential partnerships with each other and to attract business and possible investment.

Dressed in their green Team Pakistan t-shirts, the team from Pakistan created impact by putting up a great show. The international judges commended the members of team Pakistan for displaying high caliber of work which truly represented Pakistan’s booming tech sector. They were absolutely blown away by the younger members that took part in the Tertiary Student Category and the Secondary School Project category.

While speaking on the occasion, P@SHA President Jehan Ara said, “The P@SHA ICT Awards – a P@SHA signature event for the past 12 years, has provided a platform to show the world what technology companies and young people in Pakistan are capable of. This year we have once again proven that our products can be benchmarked against the best in the region.”

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan completes #SmartGrid project for #Multan regional power grid in #Punjab. …

In Pakistan, electricity distributor Multan Electric Power Company (Mepco) has this week announced completion of a smart grid project in Multan, Punjab province.

According to local media, the USAID-funded project to upgrade Multan's regional power supply system has to date minimised the utility’s technical losses and unscheduled load shedding.

Addressing journalists during a press conference, Mepco’s chief executive Fazalullah Durrani said beside establishing a new power distribution control centre, 48,000 capacitors installed on tube-wells has helped the utility in improving power supply saving 70MW and energy worth Rs2 billion (US$18.9 million).

Mr Durrani added that the 40,000 smart meters installed to residential and industrial consumers in Multan, Vehari and Khanewal cities under the Rs7.3 million (US$69,172) worth project launched in 2010, have helped to improve the utility's billing system.

Mepco has also installed single phase smart transformers in congested areas of Multan and replaced bare-conductor LT lines with 600km of aerial bundled cables to improve power supply and public safety, reported Business Recorder.

Smart grid funding

The development follows a series of agreements between Pakistan and international institutions to upgrade utilities grids.

Lat week, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) signed two contracts with the government of Pakistan for combined loan assistance of US$800 million to boost the country’s power sector.

According to the ADB, the first contract worth US$400 million will fund the Power Distribution Enhancement Investment Program aimed at the installation of an advanced metering infrastructure system for power distribution companies across Pakistan.

Metering & Smart Energy International reported, that the AMI development programme will improve utilities’ load management and reduce non-revenue losses.

The distribution enhancement program will be carried out in phases, with each phase comprising installation of smart meters, computerised customer billing and information systems of two to three distribution companies in Pakistan’s major cities, and industrial and commercial hubs.

The other US$400 million loan will be streamed towards funding Pakistan’s Sustainable Energy Sector Reform Programme supporting ongoing policy reforms to build an affordable, efficient and secure energy sector.

Commenting on the development, ADB’s country director for Pakistan, Werner E. Liepach, said: “With demand for electricity outpacing supply inefficient and inadequate transmission and distribution systems are key bottlenecks in the development of the energy sector that is stifling growth and threatens social strife.”

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan (9% male, 2% female) Leads South Asia in #MobileMoney. #India (3% m, 1% f), #Bangladesh (3% m, 2% f) …

In 2014, an average of 3% of people in South Asia used a mobile phone to send or receive money. While there are still gaps between how often men and women use these services, Pakistan leads the region with 9% of men and 2% of women moving money on their mobiles. You can find more data on financial inclusion in the Global Findex Database

Riaz Haq said...

#EasyPaisa: Incentivizing #Mobile Wallet Usage in #Pakistan. #financialinclusion …

Despite a robust mobile money market, six years after the launch of the first branchless banking product, the number of active, registered mobile money accounts in Pakistan stands at only 0.4% of the population, according to the Financial Inclusion Insights study. The percentage of users of mobile money products, however, is 7%, which means that the majority of the customers prefer to transact over-the-counter via an agent. However, true financial inclusion only results when customers open their own mobile money accounts. It is only then that customers can avail of more advanced financial products such as insurance, savings, and credit. Hence, mobile money accounts are an important indicator for financial inclusion.

One of the principal barriers to mobile money accounts was the stringent Know-Your-Customer (KYC) requirements as set forth by the Central Bank in its branchless banking regulations. However, the recent government-mandated SIM biometric verification drive has resulted in very powerful KYC data: every mobile phone owner has now met the requirements for a mobile money account. If the regulators allow this data to be re-used, it could result in a boon for mobile money account registration drives.

What has Easypaisa done about this?
A tension already exists between the lucrative over-the-counter (OTC) model and the growing realization that future revenue opportunities lie in mobile wallets. Acting on this realization, in September 2014, Easypaisa launched an experimental P2P campaign that eliminated all fees related to money transfers (P2P) between Easypaisa account customers and cash-out transactions. Aside from the daily transaction cap or 50,000 rupees ($500) for Easypaisa accounts with minimal KYC requirements, this campaign enables customers to make unlimited and free P2P transfers. Free cash-ins and cash-outs, however, are limited to 15 and five transactions per month, respectively.

What has been the progress so far?
Attributing the results in the market to any one initiative is never an easy task but this is especially true in the fast-moving world of wireless telecom services where multiple promotions with diverse goals can run at the same time. Additionally, the SIM biometric verification drive has provided a separate boost to mobile money account registration.

Nevertheless, Easypaisa tracks three key indicators they believe indicate the impact of the free P2P campaign on account usage. These are: number of active accounts, number of transactions, and the ratio of active to total accounts.


While the free P2P campaign was truly unique in the Pakistani market and demonstrates how Easypaisa is thinking ahead, growing mobile money accounts in an environment as cut throat as Pakistan’s branchless banking market was always going to be a tough slog. As a leader in the market, they have perhaps a little more latitude in such experiments even though the pressure to show positive results is always present. And competing marketing efforts can distort how much can be attributed directly to this campaign to grow wallets. Encouraging customers to replace OTC transactions with account to account transactions by ensuring that it is almost completely free is only one of the ways in which Pakistan can move towards universal financial inclusion. Other promising initiatives such as reduced National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) verification fee and the government’s willingness to digitize it’s incoming (P2G) and outgoing (G2P) payment flows will also go far towards reaching this goal.

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan’s 1st ever National Data Centre for E-Governance inaugurated in #Islamabad. 1st in SAARC via @techjuicepk

National Telecommunication Corporation (NTC) has inaugurated Pakistan’s first ever National Data Centre in Islamabad. The inauguration ceremony held in the capital was attended by Minister of IT Ms Anusha Rahman Khan, Chairman PTA Dr. Ismail Shah and various professionals from the IT industry of Pakistan.

Pakistan is the first ever SAARC country to implement the e-governance model. After successfully converting over 6,000 files to e-government by the Ministry of Information Technology, the government last year decided to replicate this model in all ministries/divisions and attached departments.

So, in that respect, the main aim behind the newly inaugurated data centre would be to help the government implement its e-governance agenda. This National Data Centre will comply with the Tier-3 standards and other than e-governance also assist in e-commerce and e-health.

Speaking at the event, Chairman NTC Viqar Rasheed Khan said that the Data Centre will be added with the latest IT features and it will be highly technical. “The Data Centre will provide the facilities to the government bodies with different services in data communication as various other private service providers are offering to their clients.”

IT Minister Anusha Rahman also stated that the National Data Centre for e-governance is the top priority right now.

National Telecommunication Corporation signed a contract with Inbox Business Technologies and Huawei earlier this year in March. The entire process of the data centre’s establishment took place within a time span of 5 months and it is expected that it will be up and running quite soon owing to close working ties between the government and the private sector.

Riaz Haq said...

#Punjab Government and Huawei Technologies #Pakistan to launch e-Services in education and health via @techjuicepk

Punjab Government and Huawei Technologies Pakistan have signed an agreement to start various e-Service pilot projects in health and education sectors of Punjab, Pakistan.

Chairman Planning and Development Punjab Jahanzeb Khan, Secretary Specialized Healthcare Punjab Najam Ali Shah, Huawei Chief Executive Officer Saif-Chi and others were present during the signing ceremony. Jahanzeb Khan said,

“Huawei Technologies Company has agreed to set-up e-services pilot projects in four hospitals, one university, one college, one high school and one elementary school free of cost in Punjab as its pilot projects,”

Health and education are the important pillars of the country and he appreciated the efforts of Huawei Technologies in this regard. Incorporating electronic technology in these sectors will help in the development of the province.

A smart e-Classroom will be established at IT University Lahore in order to promote interactive learning and help students communicate with the scholars of partner universities. Campus monitoring system will enable live video recording. Other institutes to get these facilities are Directorate of Staff Development Lahore, Government High School Raiwind Lahore and Government College of Elementary Teachers, Multan. Online learning and innovative ICT will help improve teaching quality.

Huawei will provide technical assistance in healthcare solutions in hospitals like District Hospital Muzaffargarh, Children’s Hospital Lahore, Tehsil Headquarter Hospital Gojra and Rural Health Center. Huawei develops medical service solutions using telemedicine applications, which include remote doctor visits, surgery demonstrations, consultation services and other medical videos on demand. Hospital Information Management System will be installed in the hospitals for this purpose.

Riaz Haq said...

#Mastercard to add e-payment function to National Identity Cards #CNIC in #Pakistan. #NADRA

Mastercard, a leading technology company in the global payments industry, on Wednesday announced a strategic collaboration with Pakistan’s National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) Technologies to optimise national ID cards with an electronic payments functionality.

The move will allow citizens to carry out financial transactions and receive government disbursements by utilising the unique 13-digit identification number of their identity card.

Citizens will also be able to use their National ID to send and receive domestic and international remittances, eliminating the requirement to physically visit a bank branch or currency exchange house to meet their money transfer needs.

Under the terms of the agreement, Mastercard will also use its next-generation payment processing technologies to process all online payments made by Pakistani citizens for the issuance of National ID cards, passports or any other document provisioned by NadraTechnologies.

The announcement was made during the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2017, taking place from January 17-20 in Davos, Switzerland.

Aurangzaib Khan, Mastercard's country Manager for Pakistan and Afghanistan, said: “Our collaboration with Nadra Technologies is a testament to our commitment towards building a reliable and secure ecosystem for online payments in Pakistan."

"The new service will make international remittances more convenient both for the sender and beneficiary, and this is significant since Pakistan is one of the top receivers of remittances from abroad," he added

"Combining the National ID card with payment features will transform it into a powerful, multi-purpose channel for citizens to carry out financial transactions, and will facilitate faster and more efficient delivery of vital government services,” Aurangzaib elaborated.

Riaz Haq said...

#Visa QR #mobile payments coming to #Indonesia, #Pakistan, #Vietnam

Visa will soon be expanding its QR-based mobile payment service to ten more markets, including Indonesia, Pakistan and Vietnam.

The service, named mVisa, is now live in India, Kenya and Rwanda, and will soon be available to merchants and consumers in the three new APAC markets, as well as Egypt, Ghana, Kazakhstan, and Nigeria.

mVisa, a mobile solution, aims to provide easy and secure digital commerce to financial institutions, merchants and consumers in emerging markets.

The service is designed to help merchants overcome infrastructure issues by allowing consumers to use their mobile phones to make cashless purchases at merchant outlets, pay bills remotely and send money to friends and family members by securely linking their Visa debit, credit or prepaid account to the mVisa application.

mVisa digitizes the underlying account and allows consumers to transfer funds from their account to the retailer’s account reliably and securely by scanning a QR code.

Use cases of mVisa include the allowing subscribers of Tata Sky, a direct-to-home service provider in India, to recharge their account by using their mobile phones to scan the WR code directly from the TV screen or online. This function allows Tata Sky customers to order and pay for monthly or one-time services from home without having to visit a physical retail outlet.

Mahanagar Gas Limited, a utility provider in Mumbai, also issues customer bills printed with the mVisa QR code. Customers scan the QR code on the bill, as they would at a merchant outlet, and complete their transaction at their leisure.

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan, #Korea sign Rs 10 billion loan agreement for the establishment of #IT Park in #Islamabad via @techjuicepk

An agreement has been signed between Pakistan and Korea for Rs. 10 billion loan in order to establish state of the art Information Technology Park in Islamabad. The park is in alignment with the vision of Prime Minister for a Digital Pakistan.

The ceremony happened earlier today where Ministry of Information Technology and Korea Exim Bank signed the agreement. Minister of Finance Ishaq Dar was also present at the ceremony where he shared his vision for digitally and financially inclusive Pakistan.

He said that 5,000 IT experts will be provided with jobs with the establishment of this IT Park. He added that additional IT Parks in Lahore and Karachi will also be established.

The Islamabad IT park will be set up in an area of 42 acres. Over 100 IT companies will be accommodated in this park. The IT park will have its own data center too.

The Minister expressed great interest in further collaboration with Korea and mentioned that Koreans helped construct Pakistan’s first motorway known as Islamabad-Lahore Motorway.

Representative of the Korean Exim Bank also expressed deep interest in economic and business opportunities in Pakistan. He mentioned that Pakistan is a home to over 2000 IT companies and universities are producing thousands of talented IT graduates every year.

He said the Korean Exim Bank is interested in helping Pakistan achieve socio-economic prosperity.

Riaz Haq said...

#Alibaba's online payment service #Alipay to launch in #Pakistan very soon, Anusha Rehman. #PayPal via @techjuicepk

Minister of Information and Technology Anusha Rehman has today announced that Alipay will be working in Pakistan very soon. She was speaking at the National Competition of Final Year Projects at Islamabad. The event was organized by National ICT R&D Fund.

While speaking with the winners and participants of the event at the closing ceremony, Anusha Rehman reiterated the mission of Pakistan’s Government to connect the unconnected population of Pakistan with Internet and technology. She mentioned that Prime Minister of Pakistan has recently signed a MoU with Alibaba, the ecommerce giant of China. She added that Alipay, another venture of Alibaba, for online payments will soon be available in Pakistan.

For the uninitiated, Alipay is a third-party online payment solution. The platform has the biggest share in China’s market and most of the online payments in China are processed by Alipay.

Alipay is a venture of AliBaba Group which means that the recent collaboration between Government and AliBaba will finally pave the way for an online payment platform in Pakistan.

An online payment solution will mean huge growth and transactions influx in the ecommerce industry of Pakistan. Previously, Anusha Rehman has been quoted as saying that the government is working hard to bring Paypal and Amazon to the country but nothing could materialize on that end.

With the ever growing friendship between Pakistan and China, it seems that if not Paypal, Alipay will be available in the country very soon.

Riaz Haq said...

PITB chairman for IT-aided governance reforms in Pakistan

Sharing some of the IT-enabled reforms in Punjab, the PITB chairman said that two major sectors, Police and Provincial Revenue Department, were focused to change the Thana and Pitwari culture in Punjab. This was an uphill task as both systems were given by the British government in the United India to rule here.

The British rulers had empowered Patwari to the extent that it had played with the Fard (document of ownership of rural land) by establishing a parallel economy which need to be broken scientifically. The Fard is an important document for every transaction between the two parties.

Similarly, 26 registers are maintained in a police station and registration of an FIR is in the first register. Under the Code of Criminal Procedure (CRPC), once an FIR is registered the police have to produce the accused and recovery from him before a court. Thus it empowers the police Moharar that he can register a fake FIR.

These are the issues which need to be understood first before IT enabled reforms to change the Thana and Pitwari culture in Punjab.

Dr Saif said that in land revenue reforms, 24,800 mozaajat (rural land units) have been computerised. This has enabled the public to get E-Fard conveniently. Secondly, Grawadri and Miswai are two other areas of land revenue reforms. The reforms in the sector have also helped the government a lot in the last wheat procurement campaign.

The digital data disclosed that thousands of acres of land were wrongly declared as wheat growing area while no such land existed but the middlemen were selling wheat to government on this land purchased from farmers at lower price.

Furthermore, e-stamp was introduced which increased the land revenue by 30 percent in one fiscal year which depicted that fake stamp papers were being sold and used in land transactions in Punjab....

To change the Thana culture, the PITB first established their front desks in police stations where PITB staff operates to register a complaint while the CPO, CCPO and other top officials in the evening decide whether an FIR should be registered on the complaint or not. This was the step was initiated to change police station culture. Once a complaint is registered in electronic system of the police, the person responsible has to decide about disposal of it within next 72 hours, either by giving a solid justification or registering an FIR on the complaint and forwarding it for further proceedings, Dr Saif said. He said over 1.1 million complaints had been registered in the system so far. He said 850,000 FIRs had been registered using the system.


On student enrolment in schools and "ghost" teachers, Dr Saif said that there was not a single "ghost" teacher in Punjab. ‘Anyone can check school data anytime at where real time live data of schools' students and teachers' attendance and facilities of schools were updated’, he said. Furthermore, if a school shows zero attendance of student or teacher, the deputy commissioner of that area is asked to address the issue. Same system is also replicated in Sindh but, due to administrative issues there, the results were not the same as achieved in Punjab. In Punjab, various disciplinary actions are being taken against the teachers on absence, whereas, no such actions so far have been possible in Sindh yet, he disclosed.

Similarly, in total 143 Tehsil Headquarters Hospital (THQs) and District Headquarters Hospitals, 786 biometric devices were installed for doctors and allied staff's attendance which increased the attendance from 30 percent to 51 percent. Now the PITB daily makes duty roster and it was pasted in the DHQ and THQ hospitals. Now the attendance has reached 83 percent from 51 percent.

Riaz Haq said...

Satellite and text messages: Pakistani farmers' new irrigation tools

It is still beyond farmer Mohammad Ashraf’s comprehension that people in Islamabad can predict that it will rain in the next two days in his village. He is also astonished that, based on this prediction, they can tell him how much he should water his rice and sugarcane plantations.

“I marvel at this science of being able to predict something that is unknown and in God’s hands,” says the 36-year-old farmer.

Every Friday, he reads the simple Urdu messages sent to his phone, saying things like: “Dear farmer friend, this is to inform you that between 21 and 28 July 2017 in your area (Bahawalnagar) the crops used this much water (cotton 1.6 inch, sugarcane 1.7 inch). Next week, rain is predicted in some parts of your region. Therefore please water your crops accordingly.”

The text messages are sent by the Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR), a government agency that carries out water research. Ashraf would be even more flabbergasted if he knew the scientists get this information from space.

“Using satellites and models that take the pulse of the earth, we can identify the amount of water a given crop requires at a specific location and a specific time,” says Faisal Hossain, head of the Sustainability, Satellites, Water, and Environment (SASWE) research group at the University of Washington which developed the programme for, “estimating crop water requirement in a cost effective and sustainable manner for the whole country”.

Ashraf, who lives in Hayatpur in Punjab’s Sargodha district, now takes these messages seriously.

Five years ago, he met water experts from the PCRWR who were doing a field survey to explore how to improve groundwater conservation and crop yield.

During their surveys, the experts found that farmers were over-watering their crops.

They installed a water meter on Ashraf’s 12-acre farm and explained that if the arrow turned towards the green on the dial, it meant that his land had enough water.

When the arrow turned towards the red mark, it was time to water.

“Like every farmer in the village, I did not believe them. We have been farming for generations and know what works and what doesn’t,” Ashraf told The Third Pole.

But the following year, he decided to only water his field when the marker pointed towards the red.

That season he produced more, spent less on diesel to run the tubewell, and made more profit than anyone in the village.

“The others watered their sugarcane fields three times more than I did and not only did my plants grow taller, I had less disease in my crop than the rest.”

Ashraf says that an acre of his land yielded 1,000 maunds (1 maund = 37 kilogrammes) of sugarcane. Each maund sold for Rs180. “I sold my crop for Rs180,000 while most villagers could only sell between Rs80,000 and 100,000.

Now a convert, he says he plans heed to every word from PCRWR. “I’d say that 99 per cent of the time they are right on the mark about rain,” he says.

Since last year, the PCRWR has sent weekly information to farmers like Ashraf through text messages, telling them how much water their crops need.

They also send them weather forecasts.

“We started with 700 farmers in April 2016, all across Pakistan, and since January this year the number of farmers receiving the messages has increased to 10,000,” says Ahmed Zeeshan Bhatti, deputy director of PCRWR.

The agency has submitted a proposal to some organisations to support it in improving the advice and expanding the service to 100,000 farmers.

“We carried out a survey to gauge the response of the farmers to our advice and the feedback was encouraging,” he says.

Between 25 and 30 farmers would call back immediately for further information.

“Our initial telephone survey revealed that farmers are saving almost 40 per cent of water by rationing irrigation,” he says, adding that the service is saving around 250 million cubic metres of irrigation water per year.

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan's #IT industry exports jump 19% last year hit all-time high near $1 Billion. #technology via @techjuicepk

Pakistan’s IT exports have hit an all-time high in the outgoing financial year of 2016-2017.

The country is witnessing a growth boom in the IT industry like never before and the government is also taking steps to support the IT infrastructure. And the numbers prove that the positive activity in the IT industry is delivering good results. According to ProPakistani, figures provided by the State Bank of Pakistan(SBP) indicate that the IT industry’s exports – which includes telecom, and computer and information services – in the outgoing financial year were of $938.640 million. The exports made in the previous financial year of 2015-2016 were worth $788.640 million. This indicates a year-on-year growth of 19%.

The Pakistan Software Exchange Board(PSEB), on the other hand, has reported figures that are three times greater than those reported by the SBP. According to the PSEB, the IT exports stand at a whopping $2.8 billion. There is a huge disparity in the numbers that have been reported by the SBP and the PSEB. However, it should be noted here that the SBP and the PSEB calculate the final figure of IT exports in a different manner. The PSEB reports in different sectors such as financial services, healthcare sector, e-commerce, e-health, but to estimate the final figure of total exports it takes into consideration all the exports done by local software houses to international clients.

If Pakistan’s IT industry keeps thriving at this rate, it certainly rings good news for the country’s economy. Could Pakistan hit the target of $6 billion software exports by 2020 or the target of $10 billion IT exports by 2025? We’ll have to wait and see. But the present certainly does look good.

Riaz Haq said...

VMware partners with NTC to support government's Digital Pakistan initiative
The partnership will enable the state-owned National Telecommunication Corporation to support the Pakistani government's digital transformation initiatives.
Tas Bindi
By Tas Bindi | September 26, 2017 -- 23:10 GMT (16:10 PDT) | Topic: Innovation

VMware has signed a memorandum of understanding with Pakistan's National Telecommunication Corporation (NTC) to "drive digital transformation within the public sector" as part of the government's Digital Pakistan initiative.

Under the agreement, the state-owned corporation -- which inaugurated Pakistan's first datacentre in Islamabad in August last year and offers a range of ICT services including broadband, IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS -- will be able to use VMware's solutions to "modernise" existing IT infrastructure, simplify IT management, decrease operational and ownership costs, "strengthen" the availability and security of critical applications, and speed up network expansion to underserved districts, NTC said.

The corporation said these intended outcomes will be enabled through the use of VMware Cloud Provider Program, VMware vSphere with Operations Management, VMware vCloud Director, and VMware Site Recovery Manager.

"We are determined to better serve the public by strengthening IT and telecommunications support to all government institutions. With the right infrastructure together with the best solutions, we can better provision and provide for market trends now and in the future to drive Pakistan's digital transformation," Viqar Rashid Khan, managing director at NTC, said in a statement.

The Pakistani government claims it is the first nation in South Asia to move to an e-governance model as internet penetration in the nation rises. According to the government, which cited statistics from Hootsuite, the number of internet users in Pakistan increased by 20 percent in 2016, double the global average growth rate. Three in four internet users in the nation are accessing the internet through their mobile phones, compared to 27 percent via desktops.

"The government's bold step towards a fully e-government structure is testament to the powerful benefits from a software-defined approach to IT. By implementing a ubiquitous IT architectural plan that cuts across all levels of compute, network, storage, clouds and devices, NTC stands to benefit from the scalability, agility, and security required to enable Pakistan to truly succeed in the digital era," Adrian Hia, general manager of Nascent Markets & Vietnam at VMware, said in a statement.

VMware, which has operated in Pakistan for three years, also recently signed an agreement with Meezan Bank, Pakistan's largest Islamic bank, to "modernise" the bank's IT infrastructure across more than 500 branches in nearly 150 cities in Pakistan.

Through its partnership with VMware, the bank aims to increase the performance and efficiency of IT resources through virtualisation, speed up the delivery of solutions via private clouds, and improve the availability of critical applications.

Riaz Haq said...

Punjab, Pakistan has just transformed its land record management system. What can we learn?
Ede Ijjasz-Vasquez's picture

Land is an essential resource for sustainable development. From large cities to remote villages, land remains one of the most important assets for many people, especially the poor.

Worldwide, only 3 out of 10 people have a legally registered title to their land. Difficulties associated with land administration and registration systems, together with inequalities of land distribution and tenure insecurity, often hinder social and economic development.

In Pakistan, the province of Punjab faced such a challenge. For many rural landowners in the province, land titles weren’t easily accessible, nor were they properly managed and protected. To tackle the land administration challenge, the government of Punjab turned to an innovative solution: they used digital technology to modernize its old, inefficient paper-based land administration system.

Supported by the World Bank, the Punjab Land Records Management and Information Systems (LRMIS) project turned out to be one of the success stories for the province of Punjab. Within just five years, Punjab scanned 10 million pages of old records, digitized over 55 million landowners’ records—98% of all records—across the province, and made all rural land title information available online 24/7 for landowners.

Prior to the project, it would take up to two months to complete a land transaction in Punjab. Today, it takes a rural Punjab resident only 50 minutes to receive a digitally recorded, legally registered land title from one of the 144 newly created land record offices across all 36 districts of the province. This has helped the province of Punjab enhance the transparency of land administration while securing land rights for its people, including women farmers who were denied their land rights in the old system.

In this video, World Bank Senior Director Ede Ijjasz-Vasquez (@Ede_WBG) and Muhammad Zafar Iqbal, Director General of Punjab Land Records Authority, discuss in detail the past, present, and future of the Punjab LRMIS project.

Going forward, the government of Punjab plans to expand digital land record management to its urban areas. Cities and villages alike in other countries can also learn from this successful project and innovative approach to land administration

Riaz Haq said...

My six years with the government
By Dr Umar Saif Published: May 30, 2018

Punjab has totally computerised its land revenue system (aka notorious Patwari system), where land record of over 54 million rural landowners has been digitised. This new computerised system has been used to issue over 8.2 million fards and perform over 4.5 million property transactions.

Likewise, all 713 police stations in Punjab have been totally computerised, including all previous criminal biometric record. Over 2.1 million computerised FIRs have been registered using this system. We have replicated the system in Sindh and last week, the Punjab and Sindh Police started integrating their system to better coordinate their activities across provincial boundaries. Similarly, we also replicated our investigation system for the K-P Police’s counter-terrorism department at their request.

A comprehensive case-flow management system has been installed at the Lahore High Court to ensure that cases can be tracked, scheduled and monitored throughout an automated system. Over 150,000 cases are now being processed using our automated case-flow management system.

A large number of property disputes arise from fake and back-dated stamp papers. Pakistan’s 117-year-old arcane stamp paper system also causes significant pilferage in stamp duty due to undervalued property transactions. To eliminate this, we have replaced all (high denomination non-judicial, and all judicial) stamp papers with e-stamps. Citizens can now buy e-stamps with a uniquely traceable verification number from a private bank, starting with Punjab Bank. Over Rs75 billion e-stamps have been issued throughout the province and a pilferage of over Rs10 billion annually has been eliminated.

Pakistan’s public-sector school education system is plagued by ghost schools, teacher absenteeism, bogus student enrolment and poor quality of education. We developed an extensive school monitoring system in Punjab, where monitoring officers carry out random inspections of each school every month using our application on computer tablets. The uploaded inspection reports are geo-tagged and include pictures of the attendance register and school headmaster. To date, over 2 million inspections have been carried out and ghost schools have been entirely eliminated. All this data is made publicly available in real-time at We also digitised all the textbooks in Punjab from grade 6-12. This content is freely available at and is being rolled out in over 1,000 middle schools in Punjab.

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan Citizen Portal #app shortlisted for award at World Government Summit. #ImranKhanPrimeMinister, Harrison Ford, #IMF chief, Dr Umar Saif to speak at #Dubai ’s #WGS2019
Pakistan Citizen Portal App has been shortlisted for an award at the World Government Summit in Dubai, an official of the KP government said on Twitter.

The World Government Summit is an annual event held in Dubai which brings together leaders in government for a global dialogue about governmental process and policies with a focus on the issues of futurism, technology and innovation, as well as other topics.

Atif Khan, Deputy Director of E-Governance, Government of Khyber Paktunkhwa, said that the finalists will be announced in the 7th edition of the three-day event in Dubai.

"We are shortlisted in the top 3, " he confirmed to The News, expressing the hope that Pakistan would win the first position.

He said it would be an honor for Pakistan if it wins the prize that would be announced on February 12.

Khan also claimed that it is for the first that any government app has been shortlisted.

Pakistan Citizen Portal is an integrated citizens grievance redressal system connecting all government organizations both at federal and provincial levels.

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan Citizen's Portal #app, launched last year by #PMImranKhan, wins 2nd spot among 4,646 #MobileApps from 87 countries competing in #Dubai at the #WGS earlier this week. #Indonesia came out on top while the #UnitedStates stood at the third spot. #PTI

The citizen's portal app was developed by a team in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa "free of cost" in a "record time of 45 days", the prime minister said.

"This is the first time any government-owned mobile application [has] reached this level in Pakistan."

So far, around 250,000 out of 420,000 complaints that were registered through the app have been resolved with 55 per cent 'satisfactory' feedback from the public, according to statistics posted by Prime Minister Khan.

The application has a 4.5 rating on Google Play and a 3.5 rating on Apple Store.

The World Government Summit is a non-profit organisation, that holds an annual event in Dubai. According to its website, the World Government Summit is a "global platform dedicated to shaping the future of governments worldwide". The organisation aims to "set the agenda for the next generation of governments" to tackle both global and local challenges with the help of technological innovations.

The event held by the World Government Summit serves as "knowledge exchange platform" by bringing together governments and private entrepreneurs. Leaders, entrepreneurs and experts from over 150 countries are invited every year.

Riaz Haq said...

World Bank Report: #Technology is transforming #governance in #Pakistan. 64 million #internet connected #digital-savvy, #Pakistanis are now expecting better digital services from their #government. via @WorldBank

To meet these demands, the Government of Punjab has been working to modernize over the last decade.

As part of the government’s governance reforms, and learning from earlier pilot programs in education and health, the Punjab Public Management Reform Program (PPMRP) has aimed to transform citizens’ experience, improve access to administrative services, and boost public employee performance and the management of public resources.

Before that, Punjab authorities were facing several challenges in delivering public services. This, in turn, impacted social outcomes in the province: the health sector’ performance was affected by the absenteeism of vaccinators, resulting in a low immunization rate in Punjab (49% in 2014).

The education and agriculture departments faced similar absenteeism issues with teachers, students, and agriculture workers in the field.


Citizens now have easy access to information about institutions, policies, procedures, and investment projects available on the websites of 84 provincial public entities, including government administrative departments, attached bodies, hospitals, and universities.

The number of inquiry and feedback calls increased from 50,000 calls received in 2013 to 2.9 million in 2018. Province-wide, 161 citizens’ facilitation centers have been set up to provide selected services under one roof and closer to the citizens – promoting social accountability in Pakistan’s largest province.

PPMRP also helped expedite the online provision (application and processing) of other government services, such as registering a vehicle, paying for stamps, collecting agriculture subsidies, and applying for a government job and college admissions.

Smart management to improve staff performance

The PPMRP also developed smart management tools to help some government departments improve their staff performance and overall user experience.

For example, smartphone applications and central dashboards helped track and analyze daily more efficiently the activities of hundreds of field workers in the health, agriculture and education departments.

Combined with users’ feedback, this data helped identify low performing areas and take remedial measures.

In the health field, E-VACCS has been instrumental in tackling absenteeism of field vaccinators by locating their daily activity routes (and activities), thereby enabling the management of Health Department to check whether children in remote areas had received their vaccinations.

As a result, immunization coverage marked a rise from 49 percent in 2014 to 84 percent in 2017.

Similar tools have helped assess staff performance in schools and the agriculture sector and, when applicable, informed remedial actions for improvement.

Digitizing tax collection

The PPMRP also supported technology solutions to collect taxes better, thus expanding the tax base and improving transparency.

For example, old manual cadasters of urban properties have been digitized and geo-mapped in all 36 districts of Punjab, adding more than 1 million new properties to the tax base.

This system helped issue digital tax invoices and provide an online tax calculator and online property title verification system. Citizens can also now access detailed information about transactions and when their payments are due.

As a result, the urban property tax receipts in Punjab have increased by 115 percent since 2013.

Together, these promising initiatives and reforms have changed the governance landscape in Punjab and brought government services a step closer to citizens.

Riaz Haq said...

PM Imran Khan's Tweet:

"Today my govt fulfilled another commitment when I launched the ICT City App bringing govt directly to ppl's doorstep & all city depts together. This has become even more critical during this time of COVID 19 pandemic. As many as 43 different services are being provided online"

Prime Minister Imran Khan late Thursday night said that his administration fulfilled yet another commitment after they launched the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) City App.

In a tweet the premier said: "Today my govt fulfilled another commitment when I launched the ICT City App bringing govt directly to ppl's doorstep & all city depts together. This has become even more critical during this time of COVID 19 pandemic."

"As many as 43 different services are being provided online," he said.

The options include "e-policing, emergency services, NIC, domiciles, passports, arms licenses, vehicle registration, token tax payments, birth & death certificates & other services," he said.

"App will also allow rapid response by the Administration to shortages of goods incldng vital medical supplies," he noted.

"This will end inconvenience caused to citizens having to wait in long queues and numerous trips to govt offices," he expressed.

This will end inconvenience caused to citizens having to wait in long queues and numerous trips to govt offices. After a trial period in Islamabad we will introduce this service in other cities as well.

"After a trial period in Islamabad we will introduce this service in other cities as well," he added.

Riaz Haq said...

Punjab seeks WB loan for land mapping project

The Punjab government is seeking a loan of $150 million from the World Bank for a land mapping project for accessing land records and for housing programmes in the province, it is learnt.

The proposed project aims to achieve provision of a cadastral map (a map that shows the boundaries and ownership of land within specified area) linked to digital land records, access to land for housing and a unified modern land information system.

As a first step towards the land mapping, the project envisages installation of geodetic control points (permanent reference markers placed in the ground to support the production of data collection for surveying and mapping projects) and generating base maps (maps having only essential outlines and used for the plotting or presentation of specialised data of various kinds).

These geospatial (data that is directly linked to specific geographical locations) products could then be made accessible to a larger community for a variety of decisions which could contribute to the National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI) initiative in Pakistan, according to project details. The proposed project also aims to have revenue maps scanned and made available in digital form.


With regard to digital cadastral maps, the project intends to inform the public and in case disputes arise, safeguards have been promised to be placed for the mediation and resolution of the land mapping disputes. The new cadastral maps would then be linked to the land records in the Land Records Management and Information Systems.

Another major reason given for seeking the World Bank loan for this particular project is that both federal and Punjab governments say they will not be able to achieve the goal of “Naya Pakistan Housing Programme” of constructing nearly 2.6 million low-cost housing units in Punjab if the province’s urban land record challenges are not resolved.

Under the “Punjab Growth Strategy 2023”, the provincial government plans to increase the average number of housing units to 640,000 annually over the next five years.

Riaz Haq said...

Dastgir inaugurates advanced metering infrastructure at IESCO

The Federal Minister for Energy Engineer Khurram Dastgir Khan inaugurated the first-ever data centre of Pakistan for Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) at the Islamabad Electric Supply Company (IESCO).

“State-of-the-art services will be provided to electricity consumers as per their requirements.

Elimination of theft, further improvement in electricity delivery and not transferring the burden of electricity theft to consumers by obtaining accurate data is our top priority,” the minister said while inaugurating the data centre.

The minister further said that the energy industry has always needed modern technology and the government has started the Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) in all power distribution companies (Discos) in collaboration with the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

IESCO’s AMI is a big project of Pakistan, he said, adding that the federal government is mulling shifting the public buildings from grid to solar power. “Various solar projects are underway in different parts of the country for getting low-cost electricity; it will be easier for Pakistan to progress through it.”

The minister said he had issued instructions to all Discos to shift the meters of commercial, agricultural, and bulk consumers as well as high-loss feeders and transformers to AMI meters. C

hairman Board of Directors of IESCO Engineer Qamar-ul-Islam Raja said the completion of this project will further increase the sale of electricity and timely recovery of dues would boost the financial position.

The establishment of an operational centre and a modern metering lab is also a part of this project, which will further improve the operational efficiency of IESCO, he said.

Speaking at the event, IESCO Chief Executive Officer, Dr Muhammad Amjad Khan, said this project will provide the company with accurate information and boost consumers’ confidence. He also said that apart from IESCO’s head- office, a backup data centre will be set up in Gujar Khan to deal with any emergency.

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan set for digital census with tablets supplied by NADRA

The last batch of 17,600 tablets powered by an indigenous solution from Pakistan’s National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) has been received by the chief statistician of the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) Naeem uz Zafar ahead of a planned digital population and housing census.

This brings the total number of tablets supplied for the exercise to 126,000.


The last batch of 17,600 tablets powered by an indigenous solution from Pakistan’s National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) has been received by the chief statistician of the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) Naeem uz Zafar ahead of a planned digital population and housing census.

This brings the total number of tablets supplied for the exercise to 126,000.

According to an agency announcement, NADRA also played an important role in distributing the tablets to all the 495 districts, braving the odds to complete the exercise within a period of nine days.

The digital ID authority also made available about 100 experts to help in the training of over 90,000 enumerators who will be deployed on the field when the census begins.

After handing over the tablets, NADRA Chairman Tariq Malik also visited the facility offering some technical services to the census preparation process at the PBS.

Malik hailed the census as a huge step further towards a digital Pakistan: “The digital census is a step that pulls Pakistan out of ancient past and opens doors of a modern future. From scribbled responses on millions of paper sheets to real time validated data in apps on secure devices with satellite imagery – is a step towards digital Pakistan. Big data from digital census will become the foundational system for evidence based policy making for Pakistan.”

The solution from NADRA was developed in just three weeks and includes an Android-based house listing and enumeration application synchronized with GPS and GIS systems, data center and call center services, a web portal and other associated services.

NADRA is the official technology partner of the PBS for the upcoming population and housing census which is the 7th in the country but the first-ever to be done through digital means.

Biometric vehicle registration
NADRA also recently concluded a deal to henceforth conduct biometric checks on vehicle owners as part of efforts to combat fraud in vehicle transfer and ownership processes.

The deal sealed between NADRA and the Sindh Department of Excise and Taxation and Anti-Narcotics will be carried out through the ‘Sahulat Program,’ according to reporting by The Nation.

The first phase of the biometric program will run for three years.

Sindh Excise and Taxation and Anti-Narcotics Minister Mukesh Kumar Chawla praised the partnership saying it will help curb the phenomenon of vehicles operating with fake documents.

NADRA recently partnered with telecoms operators for a new fingerprint system to register SIM cards in Pakistan.

Riaz Haq said...

First-ever digital population census in March

ISLAMABAD: Without having the requirement of Computerised National Identity Cards (CNICs) for verification purposes, Pakistan’s first-ever digital Population Census will collect data from 185,000 blocks in March 2023 whereby a 40-point questionnaire covering eight important areas’ details would be sought.

The 40-point questionnaire will seek information about eight broad areas in the upcoming population census exercise, including households, basic amenities, demography, education, health, employment, disability and migration.

Chief Statistician Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) Dr Naeem Uz Zafar said that Pakistan’s Census in 2023 is going to be digital for the first time ever in the country’s history. All the preparations are rolled out and the team is now ready for the gigantic task. “The effort is entirely indigenous; all the systems devised and the tools created are by our own experts,” he said.

He was addressing a seminar, themed “Census 2023: All You Want to Know About” at the Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE) Islamabad on Thursday. He said census is an important national activity that is linked with resource allocation to provinces, representation in National/Provincial assemblies and the delimitation process. Therefore, the credibility of the census is of utmost importance. This is what called for comprehensive introspection leading to a solution acceptable to all i.e. digital census.

He apprised the audience that after the results of latest Census 2017 were approved in the 45th CCI meeting held on 12th April 2021, the Council of Common Interests (CCI) gave directions for the next census to start as early as possible and which should be according to international best practices by using the latest technology. The Government of Pakistan then constituted a committee of renowned demographers and experts with comprehensive TORS to bring transparency, credibility, and wider acceptability of census processes and results. For this, a board-based stakeholders’ engagement was carried out in order to have ownership of the process.

Earlier, in his opening remarks, Dr Nadeem ul Haque, Vice Chancellor, PIDE, said that censuses remain controversial in Pakistan, at times delayed for over a decade. Now that we are moving toward the new census, it is time to raise all the concerns and questions we have.

“The Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) has estimated that there will be a total funding requirement of Rs34 billion for holding census exercise out of which Rs10 billion have been provided to PBS while they have requested the Finance Ministry to release the remaining amount of Rs24 billion,” said the top official sources while talking to The News here on Thursday.

Sources said for the first time, self enumeration facility will also be made available. Household geotagging will be done to accomplish the exercise. There will be 126,000 enumerators collecting data from 185,000 blocks from all over the country.

The army personnel will provide foolproof security to 90,000 enumerators while police personnel will also accompany the enumerators to provide security at the first stage. Then the army will deploy its Quick Response Force to ensure overall supervision of foolproof security of the whole census exercise all over the country.

Each enumerator will be responsible to collect data from two blocks in 30 days of March 2023. The PBS has already held a consultation with Director General Military Operation (DGMO) and the army showed its readiness to spare personnel for providing security.

The population census will be done on a de-jure basis as everyone will be counted where he or she stayed in the last six months and hold a plan to continue staying in the same place for the next six months.

Riaz Haq said...

Technology is transforming governance in Pakistan

Technology is changing our world faster than ever before.

And Pakistan, home to more than 64 million internet users and 62 million people connected to mobile data, is no exception.

As they’ve become more digital-savvy, Pakistanis are now expecting better digital services from their government.

To meet these demands, the Government of Punjab has been working to modernize over the last decade .

As part of the government’s governance reforms, and learning from earlier pilot programs in education and health, the Punjab Public Management Reform Program (PPMRP) has aimed to transform citizens’ experience, improve access to administrative services, and boost public employee performance and the management of public resources.

Before that, Punjab authorities were facing several challenges in delivering public services. This, in turn, impacted social outcomes in the province: the health sector’ performance was affected by the absenteeism of vaccinators, resulting in a low immunization rate in Punjab (49% in 2014).

The education and agriculture departments faced similar absenteeism issues with teachers, students, and agriculture workers in the field.

Overall, citizens were dissatisfied with these public services.

A more transparent access to public services

Under the Punjab Transparency and Right to Information Act 2013, the Government of Punjab has become more open and accountable through technology solutions .

Citizens now have easy access to information about institutions, policies, procedures, and investment projects available on the websites of 84 provincial public entities , including government administrative departments, attached bodies, hospitals, and universities.

Citizens can also enquire about processes and procedures of selected services through a 24/7 Citizens’ Contact Center established in Lahore.

The number of inquiry and feedback calls increased from 50,000 calls received in 2013 to 2.9 million in 2018 . Province-wide, 161 citizens’ facilitation centers have been set up to provide selected services under one roof and closer to the citizens – promoting social accountability in Pakistan’s largest province.

PPMRP also helped expedite the online provision (application and processing) of other government services, such as registering a vehicle, paying for stamps, collecting agriculture subsidies, and applying for a government job and college admissions.

Riaz Haq said...

Technology is transforming governance in Pakistan

Smart management to improve staff performance

The PPMRP also developed smart management tools to help some government departments improve their staff performance and overall user experience .

For example, smartphone applications and central dashboards helped track and analyze daily more efficiently the activities of hundreds of field workers in the health, agriculture and education departments.

Combined with users’ feedback, this data helped identify low performing areas and take remedial measures.

In the health field, E-VACCS has been instrumental in tackling absenteeism of field vaccinators by locating their daily activity routes (and activities), thereby enabling the management of Health Department to check whether children in remote areas had received their vaccinations.

As a result, immunization coverage marked a rise from 49 percent in 2014 to 84 percent in 2017 .

Similar tools have helped assess staff performance in schools and the agriculture sector and, when applicable, informed remedial actions for improvement.

Digitizing tax collection

The PPMRP also supported technology solutions to collect taxes better, thus expanding the tax base and improving transparency.

For example, old manual cadasters of urban properties have been digitized and geo-mapped in all 36 districts of Punjab, adding more than 1 million new properties to the tax base.

This system helped issue digital tax invoices and provide an online tax calculator and online property title verification system. Citizens can also now access detailed information about transactions and when their payments are due.

As a result, the urban property tax receipts in Punjab have increased by 115 percent since 2013 .

Together, these promising initiatives and reforms have changed the governance landscape in Punjab and brought government services a step closer to citizens.

PPMRP’s key implementing agencies include Punjab Planning and Development Board; Punjab Excise, Taxation and Narcotics Control Department; Punjab Public Procurement Regulatory Authority; Punjab Information Technology Board, and Punjab Reform Management Program, while there were several beneficiary departments of the Government of Punjab (for details, see PPMRP).