A Preview of the GSMA’s Digital Nations Summit with Julian Gorman

Pakistan has been making consistent efforts to become one of the leading digital nations of the region. In this regard, the global intelligence firm GSMA will host its first-ever Digital Nations Summit in Pakistan. It will be a one-day event scheduled to take place on 7th August.  The summit will highlight Pakistan’s digital landscape, and how it can address key challenges.

Pakistan’s Current Digital Landscape:

Pakistan’s unique mobile subscriber penetration currently stands at 40%, which is 50% lower than other countries in the Asia-Pacific region. In addition, less than 60% of Pakistanis use smartphones. However, despite these stats, the mobile phone sector’s economic impact is noteworthy. It contributed more than $20 billion to the economy in 2023, which is over 6% of the total GDP, according to GSMA. Still, the Average Revenue Per User (ARPU) stays at less than $1, which indicates space for growth.

GSMA Digital Nation Summit: Key Sessions

The iconic GSMA Digital Nation Summit will be comprised of four key sessions including,

  • A Vision for Digital Pakistan
  • Advancing Connectivity and Infrastructure
  • Digital Transformation and Economic Leadership
  • Nurturing Pakistan’s Vibrant Innovation Ecosystem

The participants will be hearing from mobile industry executives in these four sessions.

Objectives:

  • The Digital Nation Summit will assist in identifying the gaps in technology and challenges for Pakistan’s rise as a Digital Nation.
  • It will promote the discourse on the country’s status as a digital nation, and discussion will be held regarding the digital economy, fintech, security, etc.
  • The Summit will look to align all industry stakeholders on the future vision around policies and regulatory frameworks.

Opportunities for Pakistan:

Pakistan needs to fully capitalize on the following building blocks that are essential for any digital nation around the world.

  • People
  • Leadership
  • Collaborations
  • Skills
  • Innovation
  • Technology
  • Connectivity

Besides, Fintech in Pakistan offers numerous opportunities to the citizens at the grassroots level. Therefore, a regulatory framework is required to promote Fintech and the digital economy of Pakistan.

Innovation also plays a key role in achieving the digital Pakistan initiative. So, bringing innovation in technology will allow Pakistan to compete on a global level.

Challenges: 

  • Pakistan faces serious macroeconomic issues that have negatively affected the digital growth in the country.
  • Local startups often fail because of the lack of sustainability in innovation.
  • High taxes present another challenge that discourages investors. It is because the cost of doing business rises and returns on investments decrease.
  • A targeted focus on regulatory frameworks is required. For instance, the “Smartphone for All” initiative faced opposition despite local CMO support.
  • There is a lack of awareness and capacity building for digital technology and AI, which are vital for growing Pakistan’s digital landscape.
  • Cybersecurity is one most important facets of technology in this era. Therefore, the local stakeholders must collaborate to address different cybersecurity challenges that Pakistan is facing.

Importance of Digitalization:

The Digital Nation Summit will focus on the importance of digitalization for the advancement of society. According to the stats, around 64% of Pakistan’s population is under 30, and 29% are between the ages of 15 and 29. Therefore, there is a huge opportunity for technological growth and innovation. Leveraging this immense potential in the right direction is essential for the country’s digital future.

Phoneworld Interviews Julian Gorman (Head of Asia Pacific at GSMA)

We conducted an interview with the head of Asia Pacific at GSMA, Julian Gurman to shed light on the importance of the Digital Nations Summit and gain insights about Pakistan digital landscape.

Julian Gorman

Q1: What are the key objectives of the GSMA Digital Nation Summit in Pakistan?

Answer: “The summit seeks to explore Pakistan’s digital landscape, address key challenges, and utilize the true potential of the country. We want to promote the discourse on Pakistan’s status as a digital nation and promote collaboration among stakeholders.”

Q2: How can Pakistan improve its unique mobile subscriber penetration rate?

Answer: “Pakistan needs a comprehensive approach to policy and infrastructure development. Some of the essential steps to improve unique mobile subscriber penetration include connectivity, making devices more affordable, and increasing digital literacy.”

Q3: What role does innovation play in Pakistan’s journey towards becoming a digital nation?

Answer: “Innovation holds the key for Pakistan. It allows the country to compete globally and drives economic growth. Some of the important steps in this regard include supporting local startups, promoting a culture of innovation, and providing the necessary infrastructure.”

Q4: What are the biggest challenges facing Pakistan’s digital transformation, and how can they be addressed?

Answer: “In my opinion, some of the biggest challenges include heavy taxation, lack of sustainable innovation, and inadequate regulatory frameworks. The country needs to address these issues by making collaborations among stakeholders, and through targeted policy interventions.”

Q5: How important is cybersecurity in the context of Pakistan’s digitalization efforts?

Answer: “Cybersecurity is the key to safeguarding Pakistan’s digital assets. Therefore, the country should launch awareness campaigns and educate the masses about the growing cyber threats. Moreover, robust cybersecurity policies are required to safeguard the country’s digital infrastructure.”

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