The recent buzzword in developing countries is “digital economy,” and Pakistan is no exception. But for the last several years the government’s efforts to prepare a National Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Policy have moved slowly.
Pakistan Software Houses Association (P@SHA), which acts as a representative body for the information technology sector, engaged stakeholders from civil society, the telecommunication and services sectors, academia, media, socio-political activists and various government entities has helped to move the process forward. Input from all of these groups was essential in preparing this important roadmap.
One of the key challenges for P@SHA was to fine-tune their recommendations for the many diverse sectors that make up the information technology industry. With the help of a CIPE grant, P@SHA organized several focus group meetings and input from participants was carefully analyzed and incorporated into draft recommendations for the new law.
It was encouraging to see that P@SHA was able to bring both the Ministry of Information Technology and the Pakistan Software Export Board, two important government agencies, to agreement on these recommendations. Both organizations placed the draft of National ICT Policy on their websites for further comments, which will be incorporated in the final document, expected to be rolled out in a month’s time.
The draft policy covers six basic social pillars such as the economy, culture, human resources, infrastructure, legislative reforms, and regional integration. Additionally, the document covers seven thematic focus areas. These are education, agriculture, health and disaster management, governance, empowerment (gender perspective), and multilingualism and localization of content.
In the next stage, P@SHA will engage parliamentarians in this policy debate and build their capacity to understand the technicalities of this important legislation.