PESHAWAR -- Authorities in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) approved Pakistan's first-ever digital policy, which not only will provide quality and high-speed internet but also help develop and encourage the digital economy in the province.
"The policy consists of digital governance [e-government], digital skills, digital access and the digital economy," Kamran Khan Bangash, special assistant to the Chief Minister on Science and Technology and Information Technology (STIT), told Pakistan Forward.
The digital policy is part of Prime Minister Imran Khan's 100-day agenda for the country.
The objective of the policy is to raise the quality of governance, provide advanced training to youth, digitise the economy and improve access to secure and fast internet connectivity, Bangash said.
"Our government is trying to make governance in the province more efficient with the help of digital policy," he said. "The policy will help us in bringing transparency and accountability in the public sector."
The KP provincial cabinet November 22 established a co-ordination committee to monitor and implement the new policy, said Bangash.
"Our government plans to digitise all courts and criminal records," he said. "We are also planning to launch mobile applications and websites to promote a softer image of our province."
The KP government has designed a comprehensive plan to boost digital literacy and maximise the use of technology in primary, secondary and higher education throughout the province, said Bangash.
The digital policy is supposed to provide training facilities to educate 8,000 youth in IT by 2023.
The capacity building component of the policy will empower the next generation, Zakir Raheem, a Peshawar-based information system specialist, told Pakistan Forward.
"Through advance IT trainings, our youth can actively participate in global the community and can contribute to the development of the IT sector in our province," he said.
He praised the KP government's allocation of 50% of the 8,000 training slots to women. "It will encourage female students to learn and express themselves on a greater scale," he said.
"Negotiations are under way with international organisations like Google, Microsoft, Oracle and Facebook to boost the technical capacity of our youth in IT," Dr. Shahbaz Khan, managing director of the KP Information Technology Board (KPITB), told Pakistan Forward.
"The KP government even decided to introduce a paper-less system by implementing a digital system in all public sector offices," he said.
The KP government plans to provide cheap, fast and reliable internet service throughout the province, Khan continued.
The STIT department intends to promote digital payments and e-commerce, said Bangash, adding that a digitised economy will simplify doing business, accelerate commerce and facilitate local firms' access to global markets.
The digital policy will help create a knowledge economy, said Zafarul Haq, an economist at Iqra National University in Peshawar.
"It will enhance consumer confidence and lead to economic growth," he predicted.
"Cyber crimes are at their peak in today’s digital economy," he warned, adding that the KP government might face cyber-security challenges. "The new policy should ensure cyber-security."
KPITB has already established the KP Cyber Emergency Response Centre to ensure cyber-security, said Khan, the KPITB managing director.
The centre is working as a cyber watchdog and will help protect the IT sector of KP, he added.