Tabadlab Occasional Policy Paper Series
Aliza Amin and Sobia Maq
Covid-19 has altered the fundamentals of how societies and economies organised and operated in an ever-connected world. The pandemic has demonstrated how integral digital access was in restoring human, transactional, and financial connectivity, and are now where key interactions take place. Over 160 million Pakistanis experience digital through their mobile phones. Mobile operativity is enabled by the telecom sector, which has a crucial role to play in ensuring connectivity and expanding our digital economy.
The wider impact of the telecom sector’s response to Covid-19, however, is likely yet to be seen. The pandemic response has laid bare the spectrum of issues that prevent digital connectivity in Pakistan—a pathway to rapid and sustainable economic growth and social development. In order to catalyse a digital transformation, Pakistan requires a coherent policy framework, strategic reforms and robust engagement from public and private actors to accelerate its digital ecosystem.
This paper examines Pakistan’s digital landscape and response to the Covid-19 pandemic. It explores the wide range of sectoral opportunities that digitalisation enables, including financial inclusion, public health, education, gender equity, e-commerce, climate change mitigation, and monitoring and data. Finally, it conceives the road ahead for Pakistan’s digital future while underscoring the need for the government to declare telecommunications as an essential service and to establish the normative place of digital in the country.
Centre for Digital Transformation (CDT)
The Centre for Digital Transformation (CDT) was established at Tabadlab in 2019 as part of the organization’s efforts to ideate and problem solve for the economic and social opportunities that digital transformation offers to the South and Central Asia regions, particularly Pakistan.
The CDT’s primary objective is to engage with the challenges and opportunities of the digital age through robust research, engagement and persuasion.
Since its founding CDT has worked with clients and partners to inform and shape policy. Our inaugural publication, “Connecting Pakistan” seeks to initiate a dialogue about the impact of Covid-19 on connectivity in the country, and the opportunities for digital transformation it has created.
Aliza Amin is a Policy Analyst at Tabadlab, where she is responsible for researching, drafting and analysing content for Thought Leadership and Advisory. She has been a researcher at Wellesley College and MIT and has worked with nonprofits in Pakistan, Morocco, and the United States. Aliza graduated cum laude from Wellesley College in 2020 with degrees in South Asia Studies and English.
Sobia Maq is a financial services professional with strong interest in financial inclusion. Over her fifteen years’ career, she has built a strong understanding of risk and provided meaningful contributions to risk frameworks & methodologies. Her engagements with regulators have paved the way for improved risk assessments in various markets. Sobia has done her MBA from Institute of Business Administration and MPA from Harvard Kennedy School.