Pakistan can learn from China ’s tech advances

VIAShahram Haq
SOURCEThe Express Tribune

LAHORE: The technological landscape of the world is constantly changing with all the countries engaged in a war to outdo the other in terms of achievements in this arena. In this regard, China is leading the 5G race as it has launched the industry’s first full range of 5G end-to-end commercial products and solutions that comply with 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) standards.

For many Pakistanis, Huawei’s empire revolves around producing mobile phones, tablets, laptops, accessories and wearables besides working on the fifth generation cellular network technology but this is just a fraction of work for the Chinese telecommunication giant.

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The company has made inroads not only in its consumer business department but also in other technological arenas like artificial intelligence, 5G, internet of things (IoT) and digital transformations.

Besides providing cloud based solutions, the tech giant’s major business revolves around manufacturing and selling telecommunication equipment.

CMPak Ltd, a sister concern of another Chinese government-owned company recently tested 5G spectrum in Pakistan. Besides this it has also conducted 5G tests with 182 carriers worldwide and has signed more than 30 commercial contracts for 5G while shipping more than 40,000 5G base stations to global markets.

Since Pakistan is engaging with China through the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), it can avail the fourth industrial revolution technologies that Huawei has already worked on. Nevertheless, the country needs to initiate some key measures in policymaking to better avail the benefits.

The government of Pakistan is aiming at digitising data and it has made reasonable success but still there are issues like multiple records and raw-form data, which need to be transformed into individual profiles and uploaded on a central depository system. In addition to this, Pakistan needs to draft strict privacy laws for data so it may not be misused.

The industry believes that Pakistan’s government should take crucial steps to reform its raw data base as fourth industrial revolution is knocking the door where big data would be the key.

In efforts to become a pioneer in the field, Huawei Technologies has set up a 3.5 square-mile Horn Research and Development campus somewhere in Dongguan, a first tier city of Guangdong province China. However, this technology hub is exclusively meant for company’s research and development wing, which is working to foster the company in general and China in particular to remain competitive or take one-step ahead in global information and communication technologies battle.

To take advantage of this opportunity, Pakistan can ink agreements with Huawei to use its expertise in different sectors like smart-grid solutions, smart transport, security, smart city, oil and gas and banking and finance. However, this should be done on an equal basis in terms of data sharing.

On the other hand, Pakistan should also focus on strengthening its own technology base as a long-term strategy. The country is blessed with youth, most of which is tech-savvy. There is a need to further strengthen the country’s IT sector with a special focus on start-ups by the government.

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Besides, this measure is also needed to motivate public and private sector to invest in research and development to create Pakistan’s own identity in IT by promoting IT environment and creating IT parks.

Huawei has invested heavily in research and development to bring it at par with companies like Google and Apple. Recently, India launched a mission to land on the moon. Considering the advances in that our neighbouring countries are taking in this sector, the Pakistani government needs to get its act together. The government should take concrete steps at least for IT sector-led research and development to avoid foreign dependence and become self-sufficient in this particular sector.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 10th, 2019.

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