Pakistan is rapidly becoming a “digital-first country”, Google

The Google logo on display at the Smart China Expo at Chongqing International Expo Center in southwest China’s Chongqing. (File photo / AFP)
Updated 20 November 2018

Pakistan is rapidly becoming a “digital-first country”, Google

  • Pakistan digital growth is supported by population and increasing penetration of internet, IT experts
  • Prime Minister’s Taskforce on IT and Telecom to meet next week to draw comprehensive policy

KARACHI: Destine to become the fourth fastest growing economy by 2030, Pakistan, supported by a growing population, fast growing business and increasing penetration of Internet, is poised to grab first position among the digital economies, Information Technology (IT) experts say.
US technology giant, Google, says Pakistan is quickly becoming a “digital-first country”, which means there are new opportunities for brands to reach and engage with consumers that may have previously been overlooked.
“It shows that Google has realized the marketing potential of the country and they are now encouraging businesses to focus on Pakistan as a potential market,” Badar Khushnood, vice president of growth at Fishry.Com and vice chairman of [email protected], commented.
According to Google, there are five reasons for “considering expanding your digital campaigns into Pakistan”.
Pakistan’s growing population is the first reason that makes the country attractive for the foreign and local investors to venture into the IT sector.
“Pakistan has a population of more than 202 million people, which means there are lot of potential consumers coming online every day. And the country is even more urbanized than neighboring India, with nearly 40 percent of total households living in cities,” writes Lars Anthonisen, head of large customer marketing, South Asia, Google.
Pakistan’s economy grew by 5.7 percent in fiscal year 2018. HSBC in is recent report published in September 2018 has projected Pakistan to become the fourth fastest growing economy by 2030.
Around 90 percent of the companies in the country are SMEs which are contributing more that 40 percent to the country’s 313 billion economy, according to the State Bank of Pakistan.
Third attraction, according to Google, is the country’s growing smart phone users. Pakistan has 152 million cellar subscribers, and 60 million 3G/4G subscribers, according to Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA).
This number will likely grow quickly as smart phone prices have dropped over the last few years. Pakistan also has some of the cheapest data prices in the world, which is helping to grow mobile app usage, according to Google.
However, experts say more work is needed to be done to fully utilize the existing potential. “We need to work on optic fibers, penetration of 4G, creation of data centers, telecom infrastructure and most importantly creation of awareness among masses,” Pervaiz Iftikhar, a member of the newly formed prime minister’s Taskforce on IT and Telecom, told Arab News.
Pakistan’s overall Internet penetration stands at 29.9 percent with 62 million broadband subscribers, a fourth attraction for the investor, as per Google. In spite of this, digital consumption in the country continues to grow quickly. YouTube watch time, for example, has seen over 60 percent growth over the last three years.
The Chinese-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is the largest Chinese investment venture in Pakistan with around $62 billion, a fifth reason to look toward Pakistan.
The mega project under BRI is not only limited to the infrastructure and energy sector but it is also contributing to the growth of the IT sector in Pakistan.
“One of the first CPEC projects is to lay 820 kilometers of fiber-optic cable, connecting more Pakistanis to the Internet. This is in addition to ongoing investments in 3G and 4G network expansions from China Mobile, and the company has already announced plans to invest another $225 million in 4G expansion (bringing its total investment to $2.4 billion),” writes Lars Anthonisen.
“We have to connect every village through fiber optics that will not only create thousands of jobs but would multiply opportunities for the IT business countrywide,” Pervaiz Iftikhar added.
“A lot of potential exists in the IT sector of Pakistan with the young population turning to computers, smart phones and other digital means, and the country offers big market for local and foreign investors”, Jehan Ara, another member of the prime minister’s Taskforce on IT and Telecom and president of [email protected], commented.
Badar Khushnood, who is also former consultant of Google, Facebook and Twitter, called for comprehensive policy for the growth of the IT sector.
“Taxation systems should be rationalized, simplified, and encouraging for startups. The country also needs data protection laws, and broader cyber laws,” he added.
The first meeting of the prime minister’s Task Force on IT and Telecom is expected to be held next week in Islamabad. “Comprehensive strategy including short term and long term measures would be discussed in the upcoming meeting of taskforce because country needs a policy for the persistent growth of IT and Telecom sector”, Pervaiz Iftikhar informed.


CNN’s Sam Feist on everything you need to know about the US election

Updated 30 October 2020

CNN’s Sam Feist on everything you need to know about the US election

  • Arab News is joined by CNN Senior Vice President and Washington Bureau Chief Sam Feist in a discussion on the upcoming US presidential election

What is the electoral college?

The electoral college is the mechanism by which America elects its president, and it’s unique to the US. In most countries, you either elect a member of parliament democratically and then those members go on to form a government, or there is a popular vote to choose the president. In the US system, the popular vote of each state instead chooses a certain number of electors, and the number of those is calculated by the number of members of Congress and the number of senators in each state. So, if you have a state that has, say, five members of Congress, add in the two senators, and you have seven electoral votes in that State.

This matters because most states in the US pick their electors using a ‘winner-takes-all’ method, so even if a candidate only wins by 1 percent in a particular state, that candidate will win all of its electors. For example, Florida has 29 electoral votes, so if you win that state, even by a tiny margin, you win all 29 of those; it’s not proportional.

On election day, Americans choose their electors, and those electors will typically vote for the candidate who wins that state. Then, later in the year, those electors will come together and vote, and make the results of election day official.

There are two exceptions: Nebraska and Maine choose their electors by congressional district, rather than by the winner-takes-all method, so if Donald Trump takes Nebraska, Joe Biden could still get some electors by winning a congressional district in one of those states, or vice versa.

So, the presidential election is not a popular vote across the country; in fact, in several recent elections — 2000 and 2016 come to mind — the winner did not win the national popular vote.

How many votes are needed to win?

There are 538 electoral votes up for grabs, and you need 270 electoral votes for the win.

Which are the swing states?

The states that we have been watching throughout this year at CNN are Wisconsin, Michigan, North Carolina, Arizona, Pennsylvania and Florida, to which I would also add Ohio. As the year has progressed, we’ve added more to that list: Iowa, Georgia, Nevada and some people even say Texas.

The interesting thing about these battleground states is that, except for Nevada, they are all states that Donald Trump won in 2016. All Joe Biden needs to do in this election is capture the states that Hillary Clinton won, plus three more states, and he will be president. In 2020, Donald Trump will have to defend more states than Joe Biden if he is to win.

These battleground states really fall into two categories. Firstly, you have the so-called Rust Belt states: manufacturing hubs like Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. These are states that have traditionally been Democrat states, and they’re states in which Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton in 2016.

The second category is comprised of states that have experienced demographic shifts. These states, like Florida, Arizona, Georgia and North Carolina, have seen increasing numbers of Hispanics and, in some areas, African Americans, so the demographic is shifting from a predominantly white population toward a growing minority population. This is leading to political shifts as well: As these states become more diverse, not to mention in some cases younger in profile, that could benefit Joe Biden and the Democrats. They will be hoping that 2020 is the year that some of those states reach a tipping point for Democrats.

In terms of issues, there are always specific ones that motivate certain parts of the electorate. For some evangelical voters, it may be abortion; for other voters, it might be immigration or perhaps gun control.

But in this election, our surveys are showing us that there are two issues overshadowing all others: firstly, the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis and how the President has handled it; and then the economy overall and which candidate is most likely to lead the country back to a strong recovery.

Our surveys suggest that if your number-one issue is COVID-19, then you are more likely to be a Biden voter. If you’re more focused on how best to get the economy back on track, however, then you may be a Trump voter. As we head into the final week, these are really the two key issues across the country. 

When will we know the result?

It is less likely that we will get a result on election night than in other years because more Americans will be voting by mail than in any US election in history.

Put simply, it takes longer to count mail-in votes. There are mechanical things that slow the process. For example, you have to open the envelope (in some states there are two envelopes); most states check signatures against your voter registration card; you have to make sure the registration information matches the ballot and that you have not yet voted.

All that processing takes time. Because of that, and because some states take longer than others to count, we expect that we may not be able to make a projection on election night — but it is still possible. Some states have already started counting mail-in ballots. Florida is one of them; they started the second week of October. 

But even if we don’t get a winner on election night, that’s okay. It doesn’t mean anything is wrong. Remember, in two out of the last five elections we didn’t know the result on election night. In 2000, it famously took 31 days because they had to recount all the Florida ballots. In 2004, the election came down to one state — Ohio — and it wasn’t until noon the next day that we were able to project Ohio for George W. Bush, and he defeated John Kerry.

Everybody needs to be patient and let the states count the votes, open those mail-in ballots, report the votes and we’ll know the winner soon enough. 

Are mail-in ballots fraudulent?

There is no evidence of widespread fraud in mail-in or in-person elections in the US. All sorts of security measures are taken to make sure that people only vote once and that the person who sends in the ballot is the person whose name is on the ballot.

Some states, Republican and Democratic, have had mail-in voting for many years. Utah and Oregon have had almost entirely mail-in ballots for years with no significant evidence of fraud. Mail-in voting frequently has a higher participation rate, so there are some societal benefits in that respect. 

What happens if Trump doesn’t accept the result?

There are paths to legal challenges or recounts in some states if the result is exceptionally close — as we saw in Florida in 2000 — but most elections are not close, so I think the chances are that a clear winner will emerge.

The vote reporting will be carried out in an orderly fashion, and at some point we will project a winner, and states will eventually certify the results. It just might take a few days.

When does the winner move into the White House?

On Jan. 20, at noon, the inauguration takes place. This is written in the constitution. At that moment, if there is a new president, an interesting tradition takes place: When the outgoing president heads to the Capitol for the inauguration, a team of movers comes in and moves his personal belongings out of the White House and brings all the new president’s personal belongings in. You actually see the moving trucks arrive as the dignitaries gather at the Capitol.

After the inauguration, when a new president arrives, all his belongings are in place, his photos are on his desk and everything is ready for him to get to work.

What happens if there is a tie?

That’s highly unlikely, but technically possible. There are a couple kinds of ties. You could have a tie in a state, but that’s next to impossible given the vast numbers of people voting.

A more likely scenario is an electoral college tie, and the constitution has a provision for that: The election is decided in the House of Representatives, with each state casting one vote. Under the current make-up of the House, because the Republicans hold a majority of the delegations, Donald Trump would likely be re-elected in that scenario.

Given their ages, what happens if whoever wins passes away in office?

The vice president takes over, and the new president picks a vice president. This last happened in 1963, when Lyndon B. Johnson took office following John F. Kennedy’s death, and Johnson appointed Hubert Humphrey to serve as vice president.

Are there also elections for Congress?

In 2020, we will elect the entire US House of Representatives — 435 seats — and about a third of the Senate. Senators have six-year terms, so every two years about a third of that chamber is elected. Many states have elections for governors, mayoral races, local elections, and city council races, so a lot of elections will be taking place this year.

Follow the US election on CNN International and at cnn.com/election