Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) is forecasting the number of smartphones in the country to reach 40 million by the end of the year 2016, according to Daily Times.
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More and more these smartphones are now becoming affordable and accessible to the urban poor and the rural populations of the country. This is helping close the digital divide.
Beginning in October 2016, Pakistani government will give away five million smartphones to farmers in the country in an effort to improve knowledge of modern farming techniques, according to the BBC. Large numbers of farmers in countries such as India and Kenya have also recently experimented with smartphone technology.
In addition, the Benazir Income Support Program (BISP) has announced plans to give away 30,000 smartphones with 3G subscriptions funded by Universal Service Fund (USF) to low income Pakistanis on BISP. Each smartphone will have Rs. 250 balance per month. It is intended to enhance digital and financial inclusion, according to a report in Pakistan Observer.
The objective of giving away smartphones is to help increase farmers' productivity. Digital access is is expected to reduce poverty in rural and semi-urban areas of Pakistan by supporting micro and small enterprises. Market access to the products of marginalized segments will improve their welfare and at the same time boost the national economy.
Lack of financial inclusion and the growing digital divide are known impediments to progress of the low-income and poor segments of the population. Any effort by the government to remove such impediments will help Pakistan's economy by making more people more productive.
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