Minister of State for IT, Anusha Rahman while chairing a multi-stakeholder meeting with Mr. Michael Evans president of Alibaba group laid out the initiatives and policy measures being undertaken by the Government for enabling a broad-based digital ecosystem in the country. The focus on achieving full value chain digitization of the economy have bored immense dividends and the situation is ripe to exploit the potential of the digital infrastructure for enabling e-commerce and digital payments across the Business to Business (B2B) and retail markets.
Alibaba, a Chinese e-commerce giant has one of the biggest market shares in the world in consumer-to-consumer, business-to-consumer and business-to-business sales services via E-commerce web portals. A high-level delegation of Ali Baba Group is on a two-day visit to Pakistan to discuss and explore investment opportunities in the E-commerce space in the country. Delegation is led by Mr. Michael Evans, President Alibaba Group.
The Minister of State for IT welcomed the delegation and explained that transformation to “Digital Pakistan” is on the priority agenda of our Government with special emphasis on ‘Bridging Broadband Divide’ to enable socio-economic development to spur economic growth.Due to the progressive and future looking Policies of Ministry of IT & Telecommunication, ICT/Telecommunication infrastructure and technology policy environment necessary for e-Commerce in Pakistan are well developed.
The Minister also gave highlights of the initiatives of Ministry of IT and its allied departments towards achieving the digital Pakistan objectives. These initiatives she said have led to a sound environment to grow the E-commerce market particularly with the rapidly increasing penetration of mobile broadband. She also shed light on the successful and transparent spectrum auction process, USF initiatives for the Telecom Infrastructure development in under and un-served areas of Pakistan. The gender-focused ICT for girls initiative for extending access to information technology to girls which is currently being implemented across 107 girls’ schools in Islamabad Capital Territory is expected to improve the lives of many young girls by equipping them with ICT skills. During the presentation by MoIT&T a brief was also shared with the delegation on e-Governance system implementation, the establishment of National Incubator Centers (Fin Tech, Robotics, and IoTs), Establishment of purpose built IT Parks and formulation of Telecom Policy 2015, PECA-2106 and the Digital Pakistan Policy which is currently in the works. Current policy development activities regarding E-Commerce Regulatory Framework, including Consumer Protection and Personal data Protection, were also presented.
Speaking on the occasion the Minister further added there are more than 139 million mobile subscribers, duly verified through the Biometric Verification Systems which provides a lucrative platform for the proliferation of financial/payments through mobile based applications. Through USF, we have a plan to expand PKR 48 billion rupees in this tenure to enhance internet penetration through mobile broadband services and to provide internet access to unconnected villages (having 100 population) across the country to connect the unconnected people. She also told the meeting that E-commerce sector may surpass $1 billion in 2020 due to exponential growth in mobile broadband access and the demand side measures being pursued by the GoP. she apprised the guests that handset affordability issue was also being addressed especially for poor women recipients of the BISP, through the provision of free smartphones with loaded eCommerce and other specific applications. Detailed presentations were delivered by the MoIT, Karandaz, and NADRA and in the last Chairperson open floor for the Questions & Answers and for further deliberations amongst the participants of the meeting.
Mr. Michael Evans, president of Alibaba group during the meeting appreciated the Minister of IT and her team for tremendous achievements in ICT Sector. He said that Ministry of IT has expressed impressive commitment, dedication and focus on all digital development initiatives. He was of the view that our Group is aggressively pursuing diligence process for setting-up their E-Commerce and digital payments services in Pakistan and to tap into this high potential market. The Minister of State for IT appreciated the efforts of Alibaba Group for continuing the engagement and due diligence for establishing their E-Commerce presence in Pakistan.
The meeting was also attended by the Secretary (IT & Telecom), Additional Secretary (Finance), Joint Secretary (Implementation – PM Office), Chairman PTA, CEO Mobilink, CEO Karandaz, Member (IT), Member (Telecom), Member (Legal), Member (HRD) of MoIT&T and Heads of Mobiles companies, representative of Ministry of Commerce, State Bank of Pakistan and other senior officers of public and private sector entities.