ICTD In Pakistan
The last decade has proven very significant in terms of progress for the IT industry in Pakistan. With the opening of incubators, accelerators and angel funding networks, there has been an exponential growth in tech startups coming out of Pakistan and raising venture funding from abroad. However, the proliferation of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to help improve community living standards and improve structural deficiencies of the system is in its infancy. The Punjab IT Board (PITB) and the Information Technology University (ITU) have been pioneers in developing, testing and scaling up ICT applications in areas of healthcare, education, agriculture and livestock, and governance.
Local Community’s Problems
Although Pakistan is rich in resources but as a developing country there are many problems faced by Pakistan since independence and has undergone a variety of multilateral development challenges in the field of sanitation, health and hygiene, housing, education, security and employment.
Major problems that need immediate actions by the government include poverty, education, health, corruption, security, justice, human rights, unemployment, energy crisis and refugees.
Local indigenous problems are often attribute towards lack of resources, restricted access, remote location and abject poverty. In this focus, ICTD can definitely help them these communities to come up with innovative and cost cutting solutions to some of the problems that they are being faced.
Majority of the problems of developing countries can be tackled through good governance and proper management. It is observed that access to information and communication technologies on its own right plays significant role in promoting good governance. Hence in order to improve the efficiency, effectiveness, transparency and accountability of informational & transactional exchanges with in government, many governments around the globe are taking utilizing information and communication technology, with the goal to improve governance through e-governance.
Punjab government in collaboration with Punjab IT board and ITU are at pace of creating e-governance tools for the betterment of community. The Board aims at not only modernizing the governance techniques through transparency induced methods but also at increasing the digital literacy of the citizens. Besides PITB, ITU, Plan 9, Plan X and LUMS are also working in collaboration to solve local relevant problems through their technical expertise. Major focus of their work is on creating tools for data digitization and user friendly interfaces for low literate and low income community
Opportunities for ICTD Researchers
Information and communication Technologies (ICTs) are playing a vital role in implementing interventions to improve living throughout the globe. Varying from mobile phones applications to PDAs (Personal Digital Assistance), from e-learning tools to low cost hardware, from telemedicine to web based application, Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) are at a pace of creating awareness for the betterment of communities. Keeping in view the huge mobile technology penetration in developing countries, a lot of work has been done with mobile phone technology to improve lives for individuals and communities. Despite of making some progress in ICT industry, Pakistan pace towards using ICTs for the betterment of community has been slow in comparison to other developing countries. Pakistan is still in the list of least concerned countries when it comes to the use of ICT for improving health. With improving security situation in Pakistan, opportunities abound for ICTD researchers to visit and identify areas where they can test their interventions in low resource settings.