Digital Transformation: Pakistan is Now Online!

Pakistan's digital transformation is in full swing. Over three-quarters of Pakistanis living in the top three metros of Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad are connected to the Internet, according to a report titled "Journey to Digital" produced by global tech giant Google and Kantara consultants. Researchers found that two-thirds of urban and nearly half of rural Pakistanis regularly use the Internet in the South Asian country of 220 million, the 5th most populous nation in the world. It has a young population with the median age of 22.8 years. 46% of Pakistanis access the Internet everyday.  They use the Internet for education, entertainment, shopping and to search for information.

Over Half of All Pakistanis Are Connected to the Internet. Source: Google-Kantar

Pakistan has seen a phenomenal growth of 3500% in broadband subscriptions over the last 8 years . Pakistanis now own more than 103 million smartphones with mobile broadband subscriptions. In a Youtube presentation of the report, Faraz Azhar, Industry Head, Performance, South Asia Frontier Markets, Google said: “With half of its population on the internet - Pakistan is now online!"  

Google Search and YouTube are the most popular Internet applications in Pakistan, according to the study. YouTube is used by nearly 90% of all internet users in Pakistan for streaming music and watching video/TV, and 38% of Pakistan's internet users go to YouTube in the research phase of their shopping journey. 

Pakistan has also experienced an e-commerce boom in the midst of the COVID pandemic. 71% of Pakistani shoppers find purchasing products or services online easy, while 66% find it convenient. Another 54%  find that online shopping websites or apps give personalized product recommendations, which answer common questions. Two-thirds of consumers believe that online shopping is the way forward. They say they will continue to buy products or services online after the COVID-19 pandemic.    

Faraz Azhar, Industry Head, Performance, South Asia Frontier Markets, Google said: “With half of its population on the internet - Pakistan is now online! This is the first time Google and Kantar released a study to understand more about Pakistan’s internet population. But it’s not only about people getting online, this research has uncovered new insights and behaviors that show how COVID is impacting online behaviour and the digital opportunities waiting to be unlocked.” 

Global Investors of Pakistani Startups. Source: Google-Kantar

"More people are coming online in Pakistan, creating a great opportunity for eCommerce businesses - if they are ready to seize it. As we see more exploration of the internet beyond social, e-retailers can capture natural cross-category purchasing on its rise, but only if they have first established themselves and their product offering in an online marketplace," he said.

Pakistan Startup Funding. Source: Google-Kantar

With expanding Internet infrastructure and rapidly growing user base, Pakistan is now seeing robust growth in venture money pouring into technology startups. Pakistani startups are on track to attract more than $230 million in funding in 2021, more funds than all the money raised by Pakistani startups in their entire history. A recent example is Kleiner Perkins, a top Silicon Valley venture capital investment firm, that led series A round of $17 million investment into Pakistani start-up Tajir. The startup operates an online marketplace for small store merchants in Pakistan. The announcement came via a tweet by Mamoon Hamid, a Pakistani-American Managing Partner at Kleiner Perkins who led the investment. Last year, Tajir raised a $1.8 million seed round.  The company's revenue has increased by 10x since its seed round. 

Pakistan Technology Exports Trend 2007-2021. Source: Arif Habib

Pakistan's technology exports are experiencing rapid growth in double digits over the last decade. Total technology exports jumped 47% to $2.1 billion in fiscal year 2020-21. 

Pakistan University Enrollment Growth. Source: Encyclopedia of Higher Education

The foundation for Pakistan's digital transformation was laid with the higher education reform and telecommunications deregulation and investments starting in the year 2001 on President Musharraf's watch. With huge increase in higher education funding, Higher Education Commission Chairman Dr. Ata ur Rehman succeeded in establishing 51 new universities during 2002-2008. As a result, university enrollment (which had reached only 275,000  from 1947 to 2003) soared to about 800,000 in 2008. This helped build a significant human capital that drove the IT revolution in Pakistan.      

Here's a video presentation of Pakistan's "Journey to Digital":


Riaz Haq said…
Digital Pakistan Policy may be launched by end of August

ISLAMABAD: The Digital Pakistan Policy (DPP) 2021 is expected to be launched by end August 2021, envisaging providing the necessary elements to tab the digital global market, economic growth and citizen empowerment. This was stated by Member Information Technology (IT) of the Ministry Information Technology and Telecommunication Syed Junaid Imam, while addressing at a two-day consultative meeting on DPP 2021.

Oxfam in Pakistan and Bargad in collaboration with Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication (MOITT) organised consultative meeting on DPP 2021. The meeting discussed ways to include rural youth especially women, transgender persons, and disabled persons in the DPP 2021.

Participants were briefed about the process of developing the DPP 2021 by the ministry officials.

Imam said the DPP 2021 was being formulated through a comprehensive consultative process from all four provinces and the two regions (Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir).

He said the policy was a start to the digital era for Pakistan and would provide the necessary elements to tab the digital global market.

Digitisation is not only about business, it is also for providing services to marginalised groups. Overall objective of the DPP 2021 was economic growth and citizen empowerment, he added.

Sabiha Shaheen, executive director, Bargad said that policy design was as important as the policy implementation. The real issue is to make policy work for the marginalised groups in implementation. Seher Afsheen from Oxfam stressed the need for robust digital transformation.

Highlighting the benefits of a digital Pakistan, she shared how she foresees 'the DPP 2021' paving the way to enable growth and development, especially for the youth and women, who represent roughly 60 percent and 49 percent respectively of the population. Ensuring women and girls have equal access to Information Computer Technologies will help reduce inequalities, support gender equality, increase productivity, and improve access to health and education, thereby ensuring equitable participation in social, political and economic spheres, thus, breaking barriers of isolation.

Digital transformation can help in creating a future that is equal, where women and girls along with marginalised communities will be able to access better opportunities and live without the menace of poverty. Barkan Saeed, chairman PASHA, said the digital policy should specify actionable initiatives.

Rural youth need affordable internet, devices and skills to benefit from Pakistan's potential in export market globally. Raza Sukhera gave a presentation on the DPP.

The meeting was attended among others by officials of the MoITT and representatives of the Federal Commerce Ministry, Kamyab Jawan National Youth Development Programme and Office of the PM Advisor on Youth Affairs, Ministry of Planning, Development and Special Initiatives, Ministry of Law and Justice, Ministry of Climate Change, National Commission on the Status of Women, Islamabad Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IWCCI), Pakistan Software Houses Association for IT and ITES, Oxfam Youth Advisory Board (YAB), academia, INGOs, civil society and youth organisations/networks, private sector, incubators, practitioners of digital social enterprises, transgender persons, differently-abled persons, and parliamentarians. The day focused on sharing the findings and progress of DPP 2021 with the participants followed by group works around three pillars of the policy, which were an inclusion of (1) rural youth especially women, (2) transgender persons, and (3) differently-abled persons.
Riaz Haq said…
Pakistan seeks WB’s technical, financial support to build digital infrastructure

The finance minister shared with the World Bank team that Pakistan would welcome the knowledge of the World Bank team to promote the skills of the IT graduates in the country. The World Bank team conveyed their willingness for providing guidance and informed that the Bank was preparing an operation on digital economy with the Ministry of Information Technology. In his concluding remarks the finance minister thanked the delegation for World Bank’s continued guidance and collaboration on various development projects.

The minister for economic affairs has also appreciated the World Bank’s continued support to Pakistan. He shared that 57 projects worth $ 12.9 billion are under implementation under WB’s financing in the priority areas such as education, health, social protection, finance, agriculture, energy and communication across the country. During the outgoing fiscal year, the government signed sixteen (16) projects worth $ 3.64 billion with World Bank. The minister also appreciated the World Bank for its global initiative amounting to $ 12 billion to help developing countries for procuring Covid-19 vaccines. He highlighted that Pakistan’s efforts to curtail the Covid-19 pandemic through smart lock down approach and addressing the socioeconomic challenges through fiscal stimulus package under the Prime Minister Imran Khan’s vision of lives and livelihoods is being highly recognised and appreciated by the global community.

While discussing the future interventions, the minister for economic affairs emphasised on enhanced connectivity in rural areas though improved road and digital networks. Rural roads connectivity is one of the key components for rural development. An efficient and reliable rural road network promotes access to social services such as health facilities and educational institutions and enhanced economic opportunities through increased agricultural income and employment. Similarly, cold storage is crucial to control the post harvest losses and price fluctuations of perishable commodities. The minister for economic affairs also highlighted that Pakistan has huge potential to enhance its IT exports. The minister proposed that World Bank may provide technical and financial support to build digital infrastructure including fiber optics network and incubation centres for specialised training and certification of IT experts.
Riaz Haq said…
Pakistan's raises $1 million in seed funding
#Startup hopes to use this funding to boost growth of its #healthcare app. It has registered over 16,000 doctors from 67 cities of #Pakistan on its platform.

With the fourth wave of the Covid-19 pandemic disrupting lives and livelihoods across the country, health tech startups like look to target those who are in dire need of healthcare by improving accessibility to healthcare professionals.

Hamza, a patient who used’s services, also reviewed’s services and commended its efforts for providing on-spot services.

In addition to providing online healthcare services to patients all across Pakistan, also enables doctors in digitising their practices. The startup manages their appointments, patients’ records and feedback channel through its rating system.

“Our vision is to build a healthcare ecosystem," said Ehsan Imam, the CEO and Co-Founder of Marham. "I believe we are all set to do this because of the 1st mover advantage, well-equipped team, and the ability to sustain through bootstrapping”.

Marham has recently launched additional services for lab test booking and online medicine prescriptions, in an effort to cater to the current needs in the market, by partnering with the leading labs and pharmacy networks in Pakistan.

Asma Omer, Co-Founder and COO of Marham, said that for a developing economy like Pakistan, the digital platform will be a game-changer, as patients will be able to receive “quality healthcare from authentic doctors, which will be easily accessible and affordable”.

The startup currently has a team of over 80 employees, with plans to hire new members in different functions over the next few months.
Riaz Haq said…
Mobile Distributor Plans Pakistan’s Biggest Private Sector IPO

Air Link Communication Ltd. plans to raise at least 5.85 billion rupees ($36 million) through an initial public offering this month, which would be the largest from a non-state firm in Pakistan.

The Lahore-based company plans to sell new and existing shares at a price between 65-91 rupees each, Chief Executive Officer Muzzaffar Hayat Piracha said in a reply to queries Friday. It will take investor orders on Aug. 30 and 31 and then price the offering.

Pakistan has seen a record streak of IPOs this year. Air Link, which started operations about a decade ago and has since become one of the largest distributors of phones in the country, saw sales rise 50% to 3.6 million units in year ended June.

The company plans to issue 60 million new shares and Piracha will sell 30 million from his holdings, said Kamran Nasir, CEO at JS Global Capital Ltd., consultant and bookrunner to the transaction. The IPO will be the largest since Interloop Ltd. raised about 5 billion rupees in 2019.

Air Link, which has also recently expanded into mobile assembling, plans to use the funds to expand its distribution network. It aims to have 150 outlets by 2026 from 14 currently, which will boost margins together with the assembly business, said Nasir.

The company expects its revenue to triple to 129 billion rupees and net income surging 500% to 9.2 billion rupees by fiscal 2025 from 2020, according to Nasir.
Riaz Haq said…
Pakistan’s Airlift raises $85 million for its quick commerce startup, eyes international expansion

A one-year-old startup that is attempting to build the railroads for e-commerce in Pakistan has just secured a mega round of funding in a major boost to the South Asia nation’s nascent startup ecosystem.

Airlift operates a quick commerce service in eight cities including Lahore, Karachi, and Islamabad in Pakistan. Users can order groceries, fresh produce, other essential items including medicines as well as sports goods from Airlift website or app and have it delivered to them in 30 minutes.

The startup said on Wednesday that it has raised $85 million in its Series B financing round at a valuation of $275 million. Harry Stebbings of 20VC and Josh Buckley of Buckley Ventures co-led the financing round, which is by far the largest for a Pakistani startup.

Sam Altman, former president of Y Combinator, Biz Stone, co-founder of Twitter and Medium, Steve Pagliuca, co-chairman of Bain Capital, Jeffrey Katzenberg, ex-chief executive of Disney and Quibi, and Taavet Hinrikus, founder and chief executive of TransferWise also participated in the new round, which brings the startup’s to-date raise to $110 million.

Stanley Tang, co-founder of DoorDash, Simon Borrero, founder and chief executive of Rappi, Baastian Lehman, founder and chief executive of Postmates, Quiet Capital and Indus Valley Capital also participated in the new round.

Airlift started as a transit business, building a service similar to Uber for air conditioned-buses in Pakistan. The startup quick amassed traction, clocking over 35,000 rides a day. And then the pandemic arrived, disrupting all mobility in the country.

That’s when Usman Gul, the founder and chief executive of Airlift, took the call to pivot to quick commerce, he told TechCrunch in an interview.

“This entire space of quick commerce is on the brink of global transformation. Airlift is in the forefront for leading that transformation in Asia and Africa,” he said. Gul said he plans to expand the service to many international markets in the next few months.

“Airlift’s early traction in Pakistan is a window into the future for how quick commerce will play out in the developing world,” said Altman in a statement.

Airlift today operates over 30 dark stores and processes hundreds of thousands of orders each month.

Gul said the startup has found that setting up these fulfillment centers is the most efficient way to serve the market. “The more middlemen you introduce in this chain between the items and the customers, you begin to compromise the experience,” he said.

Within the first twelve months of launch, Airlift has been able to reduce its cost of blended customer acquisition to $5 and unit costs to $2.50, it said.

Gul said the startup, which today employs over 100 people, plans to expand to more categories including electronics. “The idea is to expand to new categories and build the railroads to move consumer goods from manufacturers to consumers,” said Gul.

He left his job at DoorDash and moved back to Pakistan to start Airlift. “The idea was to create impact at the base of the pyramid and solve problems that would enrich millions of lives — for whom change is desperately needed. That drove my transition frankly,” he said.

“Transparently, when I first met Usman, I knew this was an entrepreneur who was going to create an industry-defining company. Humble, ambitious and strategic, Usman will be one of the great founders of this generation,” said Stebbings in a statement.
Monis R. said…
Pakistani startups and now collectively valued at about $3 Billion and growing fast. 6% of KSE so far.
Riaz Haq said…
#Karachi-based #startup Bazaar completes series A round. #Pakistan's B2B marketplace and digital ledger platform Bazaar has raised $30 million led by #SiliconValley-based early stage VC Defy Partners & #Singapore-based Wavemaker Partners. via @techcrunch

A one-year-old startup that is building a business-to-business marketplace for merchants in Pakistan and also helping them digitize their bookkeeping is the latest to secure a mega round in the South Asian market.

Bazaar said on Tuesday it has raised $30 million in a Series A round. The new financing round — the largest Series A in Pakistan — was led by Silicon Valley-based early stage VC Defy Partners and Singapore-based Wavemaker Partners.

Scores of other investors including current and former leaders of Antler, Careem, Endeavor, Gumroad, LinkedIn and Notion as well as new investors Acrew Capital, Japan’s Saison Capital, UAE’s Zayn Capital and B&Y Venture Partners and existing investors Indus Valley Capital, Global Founders Capital, Next Billion Ventures, and Alter Global also participated in the new round.

One way to think about Bazaar is — especially if you have been following the Indian startup ecosystem — that it’s sort of a blend between Udaan and KhataBook. “That’s a good way to describe us,” said Hamza Jawaid, co-founder of Bazaar in an interview. “We had this benefit of hindsight to not just look at India but other emerging markets,” he said.

“We saw lots of synergies between these two. If you look at commerce, you have to acquire every single merchant in every single category differently. Whereas with Khata, merchants in any city and category can download it. So effectively, it’s a great customer acquisition tool for you,” he said on a WhatsApp call, adding that this also provides greater insight into businesses.

Bazaar’s business-to-business marketplace, which provides merchants with the ability to procure inventories at a standard price and choose from a much larger catalog, is currently available in Karachi and Lahore, the nation’s largest cities, while Easy Khata is live across the country.

At stake is a booming $170 billion retail market in the world’s fifth-most populous nation that is yet to see much deployment of technology, said Saad Jangda, Bazaar’s other co-founder. Both of them have known each other since childhood and reconnected in Dubai a few years ago. At the time, Jawaid was at McKinsey & Company while Jangda was working with Careem as a product manager for ride-hailing and food delivery products.

There are about 5 million micro, small, and medium-sized businesses in Pakistan. Like India, even as a significant portion of the population has come online, most merchants remain unconnected, said the founders, who surveyed shops going door-to-door.

“We’ve been investing in FMCG B2B marketplaces across the region since 2017. After working with Hamza and Saad over the past year, we’ve been impressed by their customer-centric approach to product development and the speed of their learning and execution,” said Paul Santos, Managing Partner at Wavemaker Partners, in a statement.

“It’s no surprise that they’ve received glowing reviews from their customers and partners. We’re excited to support Bazaar as they solidify their market leadership and digitize Pakistan’s retail ecosystem,” he added.

The startup said it has amassed over 750,000 merchants since launch last year. And it appears to have solved a problem that many of its South Asian peers are still grappling with: Retention. Bazaar said it has a 90% retention rate.

I asked Jangda if he plans to expand to the ‘dukaan’ category. Several startups in Asia are currently building tools to help merchants set up online presence and accept digital orders. He said the market is currently not ready for a dukaan product just yet. “The B2C market is still developing, so there is not so much demand from the consumer side yet,” he added.

Riaz Haq said…

Mattias Martinsson
Have followed #Pakistan for 15 years now. Can't recall any time when VC activity was anywhere near what we've seen over the last few months. Impact of reforms kicking in?
#EmergingMarkets #FrontierMarkets
Riaz Haq said…
From Karandaaz on startup funding reform:

The de�inition in the Income Tax Ordinance, 2001 is very narrow and restrictive as it only covers technology related
companies that are certi�ied with PSEB. After extensive stakeholder consultations in 2019, SECP has proposed several
changes in the Companies Act, 2017 that include the introduction of a de�inition of a startup (Note: The proposed
amendments and introduction of new clauses will be made directly to the Companies Act that will be rati�ied by
the Parliament. At the time of writing, these changes are yet to be passed). SECP’s proposed de�inition for a startup
has been broadened compared to the one in the Income Tax Ordinance, 2001 to be sector and industry agnostic, the
ceiling for annual revenue has been increased (from PKR 100 million to PKR 500 million) and a limit placed upon the
number of years of incorporation (up to 10).
A “startup company” is a company that a) is in existence for not more than 10 years of its incorporation; b) has an
annual turnover of not more than PKR 500 million or any other amount speci�ied by SECP; and c) is working towards
the innovation, development or improvement of products or processes or services or is a scalable business model with
a high potential of employment generation or wealth creation or for such other purposes as may be speci�ied or d)
such other companies or classes of companies as may be noti�ied by the Commission: Provided that a company formed
by the splitting up or reconstruction of an existing company shall not be considered as a startup company.
Aside from a broadened de�inition, other changes relate to employee stock options, issuance of relaxation of compliance,
share buy-back and protection of minority shareholders. They are brie�ly discussed below.
• Stock Options (Section 83A) and Buy Back (Section 88): Previously, employees’ stock options were only
allowed for private limited companies and shares could only be issued to the business’s founders. Under the
new changes, startups can now set up an employee stock option pool to reward valuable and high preforming
employees. Similarly, share buy-back was also allowed for public limited companies. With the amendments,
the business can now buy back shares from founders who decide to leave the company. These shares are
either cancelled or held as treasury shares.
• Fund Raising (Amendment to Section 17): The changes have also allowed founders to delay putting money
in the business if they have a shortage of funds. This was done with the removal of the condition that
required subscription money to be paid within thirty days. This measure will enable businesses to focus on
product development before fund raising.
• Compliance (Amendment to Section 17): The requirement to immediately engage a chartered account has
been eased. This will enable the business to incorporate itself without bearing the burden of such costs.
• Minority Shareholders (Section 140): To protect minority shareholders, the changes allow owners with
5% of voting power to have a say in the resolutions that are put forth at a general meeting. Previously, only
shareholders having 10% of voting rights were eligible.
Riaz Haq said…
What the 2020 Companies (Amendment) Ordinance means for startups

The new law takes into account many of the changes that entrepreneurs and venture capitalists had been clamouring for, but there is still a long way to go for Pakistani startups

1. Paying people in equity will become easier
One of the biggest changes in the new law ratified by the President on May 4, 2020 – and one that both venture capitalists and entrepreneurs had been eager to see – is the easing of rules around paying employees in equity. A whole host of rules around this matter are set to be relaxed under the ordinance and could significantly boost interest among young college graduates in working for startups.

The first change proposed is expanding which companies can issue equity compensation. In the previous law, only public limited companies (whether they be publicly listed or privately held) were allowed to issue employee stock options. Now, even private limited companies, especially companies classified as startups, will be able to offer such benefits as well.

“Sometimes when companies are young and new, they cannot afford to pay their employees market competitive salaries. In such cases, they issue employee stock options,” said Barrister Ahmed Uzair, a partner at AUC Law, a law firm based in Lahore. “With the new amendments, now even private companies may issue the same for their employees and may also do so without needing any further approval from SECP.”

Beyond simply allowing companies to issue stock options, however, the company has also made it easier for founders to consider the value of their ‘sweat equity’ – or the value of the work they put into the startup without cash compensation – in the valuation of the company.

“Strictly speaking it [considering sweat equity in valuing a company] was allowed but required valuation by the SECP which ultimately decided how much worth could be assigned to a resource’s worth,” said Uzair.

Under the current regulations, the value of sweat equity would be determined by an independent valuation advisor – typically the advisory arms of major accounting firms – and submitted to the SECP for approval before such valuations could be accepted. Under the proposed regulations, however, startups would be exempted from the requirement of that valuation exercise, which can be quite expensive and often end up costing hundreds of thousands of rupees in advisory fees.

Many costly regulatory requirements have been relaxed for startups
The proposed legislation also seeks to remove many other bureaucratic requirements that may seem minor but add to the headache and cost of running a startup. These include things like the specific time limit during which the company has to deposit the cash it needs for its startup capital, or having a chartered accountant from the very beginning.

The startup capital deposit requirement was one that was created as part of the 2017 Companies Act, and it stated that if a company had declared a certain amount as its paid-up capital, that amount would need to be deposited into a company-owned bank account within 30 days of registration. This requirement has now been relaxed for companies classified as startups.

However, it is not yet clear as to how long companies will now have to deposit the cash, merely that the SECP now has the discretion to allow for extensions in that deadline.

Another requirement that has now been relaxed is the one requiring a chartered accountant. Under the amended law, companies were required to have a chartered accountant – duly qualified and a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Pakistan (ICAP) – sign off on their financial statements as an auditor.

Riaz Haq said…
What the 2020 Companies (Amendment) Ordinance means for startups

That, in itself, seems like a reasonable regulation. However, combined with the artificial shortage of accountants in Pakistan created by ICAP, the expense of hiring a chartered accountant ends up being somewhat prohibitive for startups seeking to conserve their cash burn rates. An easing of that requirement, as expected, is welcomed by many entrepreneurs.

Then there are other minor regulations that have also been eased, such as the requirement to have a company seal on all documents that need to be signed by senior company executives.

The number of companies eligible for regulatory relaxations for startups has been increased
An important change in the proposed regulation has been an expansion in the definition of what constitutes a startup. Under current law, a company that has been in operation for five years or less is considered a startup, and there are few, if any, other ways to have a company be classified as such. Under the new regulations, however, companies that have been in existence for up to 10 years will be able to be classified as a startup.

In addition, there will now be other elements of the definition of a startup that will allow more companies to be classified as such. Companies with revenue of less than Rs500 million – or any other amount subsequently defined by the SECP – will also fall under that definition, as will companies that can demonstrate that they are “working towards the innovation, development or improvement of products or processes or services, or is a scalable business model with a high potential of employment generation or wealth creation.” In other words, innovative startups.

The expansion of the definition of a startup means that more companies will be able to take advantage of the regulatory relaxations that have been granted to startups under the proposed legislation. The goal of this provision appears to be to expand the scope of the startup ecosystem in Pakistan.

Startups will now be able to buy back shares from departing founders
This provision is likely to be especially useful for the investors and current management of Patari, where much of the founding team has been forced to depart the company owing to allegations of sexual harassment against one of the founders and allegations of aiding a cover up on the part of the others.

In such circumstances – or in situations where founders leave owing to disputes with each other or with investors – it can often create an awkward situation where the departing founder still owns a large chunk of the company’s equity but is no longer a contributing member of the management team. For startups, this is a very common scenario, and one that is made worse in Pakistan by the fact that, under the very recent law, only publicly listed companies were allowed to buy back their own shares.

Under the proposed legislation, startups will be able to buy back their own shares, in addition to all private limited companies. This allows for the amicable settlement of disputes between founders and does not require one founder or investor to buy out others, but rather have the company’s collective resources be made available to resolve such issues.

Riaz Haq said…
The Ordinance provides 100% tax credit and an exemption for startups.

100% Tax Credit Against Income Tax Liablity of the Startup
Profits and gains of startups were exempt from income tax up till promulgation of Tax Laws (Second Amendment) Ordinance, 2021 on March 22, 2021.

Effective from March 22, 2021, income of a startup is not exempt from income tax; instead, startups have been allowed a 100% tax credit against their income tax liability.

There are SIX conditions attached to eligibility for 100% tax credit. These conditions are enumerated below:

The startup is required to be certified by the Pakistan Software Export Board (PSEB).
100% tax credit is available in the year of certification by PSEB and the next following two years.
The startup has filed the income tax return.
Tax required to be deducted or collected has been deducted or collected and paid by the startup. In other words, the startup has discharged its duty as a withholding agent. For further details on withholding of taxes, read this article.
The startup has filed with FBR the withholding tax statements for the immediately preceding tax year.
The startup has filed the sales tax returns for the tax periods corresponding to the relevant tax year. Therefore, relevant sales tax registration (PRA, SRB, BRA, KPRA, FBR) is also must.
The startups are eligible for 100% tax credit regarding tax payable under any provisions of ITO, 2001 including minimum tax and final tax. However, the startup can be subjected to audit proceedings u/s 177 and 214C.
Riaz Haq said…
In the first two months of the year, start-ups elicited $23.74 million in contrast to the $37.1 million received in 2020.

The funding in 2018 and 2019 make up almost two-thirds of the total disclosed funding worth $317 million in the start-up segment over the past decade, according to the LightCastle Partners study.

Not all the start-up fundings are disclosed and therefore the actual funding may be higher, the report said.

A total of 78 companies got funding through 146 deals, of which 80 deals were disclosed.

Half of the total fund of $317 million was invested in the fintech start-ups while a third in the logistic and e-commerce businesses.

“It is a very promising time for start-ups as there is a lot of overall interest for investing in Bangladesh, especially from abroad,” said Rahat Ahmed, chief executive officer and founding partner of Anchorless Bangladesh, a New York-based venture capital firm focused on fostering the start-up ecosystem of Bangladesh.

Riaz Haq said…
#Bangladesh #tech #exports in FY 2021 were $1 billion, less than half of #Pakistan's.
Riaz Haq said…
Digital freight marketplace BridgeLinx raises $10 million in #Pakistan's largest seed funding.This is 20 VC & Buckley Ventures’ 2nd lead #investment in Pakistan in recent weeks after an $85 million round in quick-commerce startup Airlift. via @techcrunch

On a side note, it’s fascinating to see Stebbings and Buckley emerge as the earliest investors to back startups in Pakistan at a time when several high-profile venture funds in Asia — including Sequoia Capital India, Accel, and Lightspeed — are yet to make any move in the country. Arguably, it’s the best time to back startups in Pakistan. The internet penetration has grown considerably in the country in the past decade and scores of startups are beginning to build the railroads for commerce, logistics, and payments.

Prosus has backed one startup in Pakistan — ride-hailing firm Bykea — and it recently made its first investment in Bangladesh — commerce startup ShopUp, which counts Sequoia as one of its earliest backers.
Riaz Haq said…
Number of 3G, 4G users in Pakistan reaches 103.12m: PTA

ISLAMABAD: The number of 3G and 4G users in Pakistan reached 103.12 million by end-August 2021 compared to 101.59 million by the end-July 2021, registering an increase of 1.53 million, revealed Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) data.

The number of cellular subscribers in Pakistan increased by 0.67 million to 185.57 million by end-August 2021 compared to 184.90 million by the end of July.

Teledensity for cellular mobile increased from 84.41 percent by the end of July 2021 to 84.67 percent by end-August.

The total teledensity increased from 86.55 percent by the end of July 2021 to 86.81 percent by end-August.

Monthly Next Generation Mobile Service (NGMS) penetration stood at 47.05 percent by end-August 2021 compared to 46.38 percent in July 2021.

Jazz’s total count for 3G users stood at 7.438 million by end-August compared to 7.598 million by the end of July 2021, registering a decrease of 0.16 million.

Jazz 4G user numbers jumped from 31.745 million by the end of July 2021 to 32.767 million by end-August. Zong 3G subscribers decreased from 4.204 million by the end of July to 4.046 million by end-August, while the number of 4G users jumped from 23.581 million by the end of July 24.099 million by end-August.

The number of 3G users of Telenor decreased from 4.984 million by the end of July to 4.777 million by end-August. The number of 4G users jumped from 17.791 million by the end of July 18.333 million by end-August.

Ufone 3G users decreased from 4.373 million by the end of July to 4.292 million by end-August.

The number of 4G users of Ufone increased from 6.212 million by the end of July 2021 to 6.246 million by end-August.

Riaz Haq said…
The business heads expressed keen interest to make investments in Pakistan in their respective domains and also briefed them about their companies. The president later witnessed the signing of three MoUs between Pakistan’s Special Technology Zones Authority with Mastercard, Galaxy racer (E-sports) and Shorooq Partners VC Funds.

President Dr Arif Alvi on Saturday inaugurated Pakistan Pavilion at Dubai Expo 2020. First lady Samina Alvi and Advisor on Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood were also present on the occasion. The president also visited different stalls of the pavilion where he was briefed about Pakistani products.

The president while meeting with heads of leading investment and technology firms in Dubai said that Pakistan is offering promising business opportunities to foreign investors through one-window operations in sectors of innovation and technology. The President said the one-window facility under Special Technology Zones

Authority is aimed at encouraging and facilitating the foreign investors to expand their information technology footprint in Pakistan.

He said the government has set up the STZA with a mandate to provide world-class digital and physical infrastructure across the country and put Pakistan on global technology radar. The President invited the companies to invest in Pakistan’s diverse sectors particularly in e-business. The business heads expressed keen interest to make investments in Pakistan in their respective domains and also briefed them about their companies. The president later witnessed the signing of three MoUs between Pakistan’s Special Technology Zones Authority with Mastercard, Galaxy racer (E-sports) and Shorooq Partners VC Funds.
Riaz Haq said…
BEIJING, Dec 12 (Gwadar Pro) – Pakistan will capitalize on low banking penetration through digital technology, which has great potential for growth in line with the national financial inclusion strategy, said Shaikh Muhammad Shariq, Vice President of the National Bank of Pakistan while addressing a special conference on the innovation & development of the SCO driven by the digital economy.

The participants of Shanghai Cooperation Organization members attended the conference and were committed to increasing collaboration between SCO members in digital economy.

The Chief Representative of NBP in Beijing Shaikh Shariq said that in Pakistan, mobile connectivity is advancing the digital transformation of industries and facilitating the development of new solutions in different areas, and simplifying commercial transactions and remittances between individuals and organizations.

“Pakistan is home to more than 300,000 IT professionals, produces over 25,000 IT graduates annually, and has nurtured over 700 tech start-ups since 2010. Technology exports have grown 15% per year and are expected to reach $3.5 billion in 2022. Pakistan’s online population has grown rapidly and internet penetration is reaching 54% this year” Shaikh added.

He further said that Pakistan introduced its first ‘Digital Pakistan policy’ back in 2018. The primary aim of this policy was to bolster the IT industry by building a digital ecosystem, aiming to enhance connectivity, improve digital infrastructure, increase investment in digital skills and promote innovation, high-tech and entrepreneurship.

“Pakistan’s digital transformation could generate up to Rs. 9.7 trillion ($ 54.86 billion) in annual economic value by 2030. Pakistan is one of the youngest countries in the world (about 60 percent of its population is 15 to 29 years old). IT and IT-enabled industry have the potential to overtake the agriculture and manufacturing sectors in exports”, he mentioned.

Shaikh said that the Special Technology Zones Authority (STZA), is also established, to provide legislative and institutional support for the development of the national technology sector that will harness Pakistan’s IT potential and set the country on the trajectory of an entrepreneurial, innovative, and tech-driven future for shared prosperity & inclusive growth.

“We have 152 Million mobile phone subscribers in Pakistan, mobile wallets reach more than 35 million. Agro-tech is also required to improve yield, efficiency & profitability. Robotics is also a budding industry, and many private corporations, colleges, newly established organizations, and consultants are contributing. Other areas include Bio-tech, travel-tech, IoT & automation”, he said.

He invited all the enterprises to invest in Pakistan and the National Bank of Pakistan will provide maximum facilitation.
Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan Customs to Use TradeLens to digitize #import-#export documentation of the containerized cargo. Pakistan Single Window (PSW) Company signed the agreement on behalf of Pakistan Customs. TradeLens is a #blockchain-underpinned #logistics platform.

Pakistan Customs has entered an agreement with TradeLens to digitise import-export documentation of the containerised cargo moving in and out of the country.

The Pakistan Single Window (PSW) Company signed the agreement on behalf of Pakistan Customs with TradeLens, a blockchain-underpinned logistics platform supported by five of the six largest ocean carriers globally.

PSW integration with TradeLens will help Pakistan Customs and other trade regulators to improve their operational efficiency and create value through the blockchain platform.

The immutability of blockchain-underpinned document information is important in the identification of illegal activities, as well as, improving the smooth operation of legal trade.

Pakistan’s international trade ecosystem is being rapidly transformed through the introduction of technology driven initiatives led by the Pakistan Single Window.

The country’s authorities recognise the potential benefits of digitising supply chains for efficiencies, enhanced transparency, and data-driven decision making.

The authorisation to sign the collaboration came from the PSW Governing Council chaired by Shaukat Tarin. The CEO of PSW Aftab Haider formally signed the agreement with Irtaza Hussain, the Regional Head of Network for TradeLens at IBM.

Cross-border containerised supply chains are some of the largest and most complex business ecosystems in the world today. It is not uncommon for 30 independent parties, 100 people and up to 200 exchanges of information to be connected to a single shipment.

With increased complexity comes increased cost. Shippers or beneficial cargo owners (BCOs) need consistent, auditable and immutable data from multiple sources to effectively manage their supply chains.

Marvin Erdly, Head of TradeLens at IBM, commented, “The growth of the TradeLens’ network is evidence that participants from all across the supply chain ecosystem can derive significant value through digital collaboration.

“Pakistan now joins an increasing number of connected Customs Authorities on the TradeLens platform exploring innovative solutions to enhance global trade access and enhance process efficiencies for all involved”.

TradeLens is a neutral platform brings together data from the entire global supply chain ecosystem including shippers and cargo owners, 3PLs and freight forwarders, intermodal operators, customs and government authorities, ports and terminals, and several ocean carriers.

This data allows TradeLens and its network partners to modernise manual and paper-based documents by replacing them with blockchain-enabled digital solutions. It also allows the network partners to provide their customers with deeper visibility into the entire journey for their cargo from origin to destination and reduce uncertainty allowing for better planning and reduced inventory costs.

TradeLens welcomed its first network member in Pakistan, Al-Hamd International Container Terminal, earlier this year.

PSW is an initiative of Pakistan’s federal government with a focus of transforming the trade and industry ecosystem.
Riaz Haq said…
Pakistan's Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication has drafted “National Broadband Policy-2021” targeting the contribution of digital/broadband development to the economy to the tune of $5 billion investment and $20 billion revenue by 2025.

The draft policy also envisages up to eight percent contribution towards the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) from digital/broadband development in the next four years.

One of the objectives of the draft policy is to ensure that 100 percent population living in tier-2/3 cities should have access to high-speed internet, an average per user internet speeds of 50Mbps in major cities and facilitate 75 percent of the internet users with digital bank accounts by 2025.

The draft policy aims at addressing some of the specific challenges; (i) the need for affordable access to broadband for all; (ii) to address the challenges concerning digital divide especially in unserved and underserved areas nationwide; (iii) overcoming the challenges in rolling out the required digital infrastructure and related financing models including extensive fiberization and efficient spectrum management; (iv) harmonization of existing tax regime on telecommunication services; (v) stimulating the development of local and relevant content and services; (vi) the need for improved and consistent broadband quality of service; (vii) urging the importance digital trust over telecommunication networks to promote wider use of digital technologies in all spheres of life; (viii) understanding the impact of internet in terms of socio-cultural developments, economic growth, and environmental sustainability; (x) lowering barriers for investments applied on existing licensees and for new investors in telecom sector and promoting public-private partnerships; and (xi) challenges vis-à-vis accelerated evolution towards adoption of Xth Generation technologies and fiberization, necessary for improving the state of broadband infrastructure.

The policy envisaged for furthering the initiative of “Digital Pakistan”; it is pivotal to craft a policy vision which is user-centric, market-oriented, simple to govern and all-inclusive in nature, laying a strong foundation to address outstanding issues expediently and exploring new opportunities in the most agile manner.

The National Broadband Policy–2021 aims to “revitalise the state of telecommunication by accelerating the efforts for digital inclusion of every citizen in any corner of the country to gain universal access to high speed affordable internet, enhance the use of digital space by providing equal opportunity for socio-economic wellbeing in a safe, responsible and healthy environment through evolving policy and regulatory measures required for timely and sustainable adoption of cutting edge technologies and digital infrastructure”.

Riaz Haq said…

The user-centric policy drivers on which the foundation of the National Broadband Policy–2021 is laid consists of the following four major pillars.

The first pillar will focus on the digitally divided people who are yet to be digitally included and will provide guidelines regarding use of existing fibre resources, facilitating infrastructure sharing, introducing national broadband networks and its role in the development of sustainable broadband infrastructure in public-private partnerships, reviewing the role of USF for sustainable penetration of broadband services in unserved and underserved areas of the country further enhancing the capability for use of already laid infrastructure, further assessing the rolling spectrum strategy and offering interventions for resource optimization as well as roadmap for inclusion of new mobile spectrum bands, facilitating the provisioning of rights of ways, plan for commercial use of data satellite and proposal for smartphone adoption and increased local manufacturing of internet devices/terminals in Pakistan.

The second pillar will help in organising matters related to enhancing the use of internet and for market enablement such as; roadmap for service-based competition, review of licensing framework, outlining the future course of OTT platforms and content management, broadening the role of Ignite as research and innovation enabler, facilitating the cloud infrastructure and internet exchange points, reviewing the quality of service rules for improving user experience, developing and implementing new services and technologies in public-private partnerships, supporting with necessary infrastructure and services for enabling social services in the digital space.

The third pillar will emphasise on the privacy and protection of user consuming internet and will help in creating awareness and propose a framework for securing identity and data online, ease of access for reporting criminal activity online, guidelines for constituting CERTs, standardising and implementing user privacy, propose common operating environment and standards for internet security, environment protection support, framework for standardising new technologies and services.

The 4th and final pillar of the policy would help user by providing a transformational roadmap for legacy services and technologies, review the role of different public sector organisations responsible for facilitating different telecommunication services, plan for adopting open source technologies and platforms, broadly identify future technologies and make provisions for early adoption, propose broad strategy for the adoption of internet of everything, and last but not the least provide guideline for international cooperation in ICTs.
Riaz Haq said…
#Startups bringing #Pakistan's #farming into #digital age. Since October, #farmers in Chak 26 and pilot projects elsewhere have been given free access to the internet—and it is revolutionizing the way they work. #agriculture #technology via @physorg_com

Agriculture entrepreneurs are bringing the digital age to Pakistan's farmers, helping them plan crops better and distribute their produce when the time is right.
Until recently, "the most modern machine we had was the tractor", Aamer Hayat Bhandara, a farmer and local councillor behind one such project told AFP in "Chak 26", a village in the agricultural heartland of Punjab province.

Even making mobile phone calls can be difficult in many parts of Pakistan, but since October, farmers in Chak 26 and pilot projects elsewhere have been given free access to the internet—and it is revolutionising the way they work.

Agriculture is the mainstay of Pakistan's economy, accounting for nearly 20 percent of gross domestic product and around 40 percent of the workforce.

It is estimated to be the world's fifth-largest producer of sugarcane, seventh-largest of wheat and tenth-biggest rice grower—but it mostly relies on human labour and lags other big farming nations on mechanisation.

Cows and donkeys rest near a muddy road leading to a pavilion in Chak 26, which is connected to a network via a small satellite dish.

This is the "Digital Dera"—or meeting place—and six local farmers have come to see the computers and tablets that provide accurate weather forecasts, as well as the latest market prices and farming tips.

"I've never seen a tablet before," said Munir Ahmed, 45, who grows maize, potatoes and wheat.

"Before, we relied on the experience of our ancestors or our own, but it wasn't very accurate," added Amjad Nasir, another farmer, who hopes the project "will bring more prosperity".

Apps and apples

Communal internet access is not Bhandara's only innovation.

A short drive away, on the wall of a shed, a modern electronic switch system is linked to an old water pump.

A tablet is now all he needs to control the irrigation on part of the 100 hectares (250 acres) he cultivates—although it is still subject to the vagaries of Pakistan's intermittent power supply.

This year, Bhandara hopes, others will install the technology he says will reduce water consumption and labour.

"Digitising agriculture... and the rural population is the only way to prosper," he told AFP.

At the other end of the supply chain, around 150 kilometres (90 miles) away in Lahore, dozens of men load fruit and vegetables onto delivery bikes at a warehouse belonging to the start-up Tazah, which acts as an intermediary between farmers and traders.

After just four months in operation, the company delivers about 100 tonnes of produce every day to merchants in Lahore and Karachi who place orders via a mobile app.

"Before, the merchant had to get up at 5 am or 5:30 am to buy the products in bulk, at the day's price, and then hassle with transporting them," said Inam Ulhaq, regional manager.

"Tazah brings some order to the madness."

In the Tazah office, several employees manage the orders, but for the time being, purchases are still made by phone, as the part of the application intended for farmers is still in development.

The young company is also tackling a "centuries-old" system that stakeholders are reluctant to change, explains co-founder Abrar Bajwa.

Record investment

Fruit and vegetables often rot during their journey along poorly organised supply chains, says partner Mohsin Zaka, but apps like Tazah make the whole system more efficient.
Riaz Haq said…
‘Pakistan fastest growing market for YouTube’

“Pakistan is one of the fastest growing markets for YouTube globally,” said Marc Lefkowitz, company’s director of partner development and management for Asia Pacific.


KARACHI: YouTube Pakistan brought out the big guns on Thursday evening for its maiden Brandcast — a loud show of song and dance with hundreds of young content creators gathered under one roof to dazzle the deep-pocketed advertisers of the country’s “No. 1 online video and music platform”.

Beginning with a short concert and effusive presentations by popular YouTubers, the event featured what seemed like sales pitches to advertisers by top YouTube officials.

“Pakistan is one of the fastest growing markets for YouTube globally,” said Marc Lefkowitz, company’s director of partner development and management for Asia Pacific.

As many as 62 per cent of online Pakistanis between the ages of 18 and 24 reported watching YouTube at least once a month, he said. Citing a study conducted by parent company Google and research firm Kantar, he said 78pc of internet users in Pakistan said YouTube was the video platform they went to when they wanted to watch shows and online content.

The same study showed 76pc of internet users believed YouTube helped them “learn something new”. Three-quarters of internet users claimed the video platform carried content that helped them “dig deeper into their interests”.

In a separate interaction with reporters after the event, Mr Lefkowitz said the number of YouTube channels making Rs1 million or more in revenue has gone up 110pc on a year-on-year basis. There’re currently more than 5,400 YouTube channels with more than 100,000 subscribers in Pakistan, up 35pc on an annual basis. More than 350 of these channels have more than a million subscribers.

In his presentation and subsequent talk with the press, Google Country Director Farhan Siddique Qureshi said YouTube has become the centre of modern life as it fulfils educational, professional and entertainment needs of ordinary people, he said.

He urged businesses to capitalise on the “deep connections” that YouTube users have built on the platform to remain at the “top of (their) minds” for achieving a “greater sales uplift”.

A case study shared with the press showed Nestle Fruita Vitals was experiencing low sales in a few cities. It decided to test which advertising channel — TV or YouTube — would yield “efficient results”. YouTube surpassed TV’s reach on the third day, the case study showed. The on-target reach of YouTube versus the TV campaign was three times higher while its cost was 70pc lower, it said.

PR minders of the firm kept hovering over the YouTube representatives during the press briefing in an apparent attempt to stop them from oversharing. Mr Qureshi didn’t state any numbers with respect to the size of YouTube’s business in Pakistan, its earnings, payments to local content creators or taxes.

In response to a question about the perception that local content creators don’t make as much money as their counterparts from other parts of the world, Mr Qureshi said advertising rates are auction-based, not fixed.
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…
Pakistan ID boss to head UNDP digital transformation committee as World Bank mulls funding | Biometric Updat

World Bank considers $78M project for digital public services
Malik has previously worked on identity projects with both the World Bank and UNDP. ProPakistani reports that the World Bank will consider the US$78 million ‘Pakistan: Digital Economy Enhancement Project’ that seeks a more holistic approach to digital government services for citizens and businesses.

While Pakistan has relatively robust national ID and payment systems (with links to improve service and inclusion), a lack of interoperability frameworks has limited public and private efforts for secure data exchange.

The country lacks certain elements of digital infrastructure and digital government, notes the report, though acknowledges that nearly four million citizens have been a smartphone app called the Pakistan Citizen’s Portal for accessing services or submitting grievances.

A data protection bill is still in draft form and requires more work, finds the World Bank documentation. Together these issues mean a lack of implementation support for digital projects, despite policy instruments at the federal and provincial levels. World Bank analysis therefore finds opportunities are being missed in the country’s digital transformation.

A recent opinion piece in Pakistan Today also covered elements of progress in the digital economy in the country.

Property registrars go biometric in Sindh province
All offices of the Sub-Registrar Property in Sindh province will be equipped with biometric identity verification systems to prevent impersonation in property registration, reports The Express Tribune.

NADRA Technologies Limited (NTL), a subsidiary of NADRA, signed an agreement with the Board of Revenue Sindh in Karachi, the province’s largest city. The system will be linked to the NADRA database and used to check the identity of property buyers and sellers.

The development of such systems was reported on in July 2022, with a similar biometric verification system slated for the Capital Development Authority.

Riaz Haq said…
1,800 TCF schools: Jazz digitally enabling TCF to implement tech-enabled learning - Pakistan - Business Recorder

KARACHI: Jazz, Pakistan’s leading digital operator and a part of VEON Group, is digitally enabling The Citizens Foundation (TCF) to implement tech-enabled learning across 1,800 TCF schools and ensuring an advanced learning experience for over 250,000 students nationwide.

As part of this initiative, 23 computer labs have already been revamped, and a school management app has been introduced in all TCF schools, offering efficiency, transparency, and accuracy of data collection and management for all students, faculty, and non-faculty employees.

The blended learning solution for primary students is an innovative approach that combines online and offline education to provide a more interactive and engaging learning experience, while the computer curriculum under DLP (Digital Literacy Program) for grades 6-8 is specifically designed to equip students with digital-age skills.

The digitization initiative also facilitated the translation of books and learning materials for grades 6 and 7 into Urdu, creating a bilingual curriculum, along with a scripted bilingual lesson plan. In addition, 700 Android phones were delivered to schools across the entire TCF network, which aided in implementation of blended learning program.

Commenting on the initiative, Jazz CEO Aamir Ibrahim said, "We are proud to have collaborated with TCF on this important initiative to digitize schools and provide students with access to the latest technology. Driven by the impetus to digitally empower youth and to assist the Government of Pakistan in realizing its Digital Pakistan vision, Jazz continues to club its resources and expertise in creating long-term, sustainable solutions and partnerships that uplift individuals and the larger community."

Additionally, the female teacher training program is a crucial part of the grant as it will digitally empower women to take on more leadership roles and optimize their performance, which has been a key focus area for Jazz toward building an integrated and equitable society.
Riaz Haq said…
Article by Andrew Sharp Photos courtesy of Sabrin Beg May 05, 2023

Lerner College (University of Delware) professors explore how electronic devices impact classrooms in Pakistan

Developing countries like Pakistan are struggling to improve education, the researchers wrote, and their governments tend to use several strategies. One is to supply technology directly to students in an effort to make up for teachers’ shortcomings. The other is costly investment in teacher training, which may not be effective if governments don’t pour substantial resources into the design and support of the project.

This research has important implications for how to improve education in countries facing similar dilemmas.

“Every country, everywhere in the world, has a constrained budget, right?” Lucas said. “That’s why there are economists. And so this is just thinking about how to use those scarce education resources most effectively.”

That’s where the research comes in. The government of Punjab province in Pakistan developed digital teaching material featuring expert teachers, and wanted to know if it would be more effective to give preloaded tablets with the high quality material to each student, or to give one tablet to the teacher along with a display screen so the teacher could present the material. The digital lessons included explainer videos, review questions and more.

Through a connection of Beg’s in Pakistan, the UD pair was brought on board to conduct the study. They examined student performance among classrooms using a randomized controlled trial in which randomly selected schools used the two different kinds of digital lessons, while control schools operated as usual. The government of Punjab provided the technology.

One outcome that surprised Beg and Lucas was the magnitude of the effects. The study found a stark difference between the outcomes of the different approaches to delivering the digital material.

The eLearn classrooms — the ones focused on providing material to teachers — did improve student learning, with students outperforming the control group by a whopping 60%. They were also 5% more likely to pass the standardized test at the end of the academic year.

The students who each got tablets, but whose teachers could not display the content to the class, actually performed 95% worse than the control group.

“Basically, it’s like (these) students almost learned nothing … relative to the control students,” Lucas said.

When each student received a tablet, Beg said, there wasn’t a way for teachers to engage with the technology. “It made it actually maybe harder for the teachers to make it part of their regular classroom teaching, whereas the screens (eLearn Classrooms) did the opposite.”

In other words, “One of the more important takeaways was that teacher engagement seems to be an important ingredient in making technology successful in the classrooms,” Beg said. Also, “It’s not something that will solve all learning crises in developing countries, but that (technology) should be integrated into the classroom.” Appropriately, of course, to avoid the negative effects.

A lot of governments, she said, find technology very promising but don’t know exactly how to integrate it to make it useful.

There’s been a tendency, Lucas said, to bypass teachers using tech or after-school programs that basically create a parallel education system. “But … what this shows is no, these teachers are capable of delivering more learning to their students. And (in this case) the way that this happened was through technology.”

Popular posts from this blog

Pakistani Women's Growing Particpation in Workforce

Project Azm: Pakistan to Develop 5th Generation Fighter Plane

Pakistan's Saadia Zahidi Leads World Economic Forum's Gender Parity Effort