Press Releases

12
November 2007

Pakistani Rural Entrepreneurs Can Fight Poverty with Telecommunications

Islamabad- Monday, November 12, 2007: The telecommunications industry in Pakistan can really empower the rural communities at the bottom of the pyramid by trickling down information and wealth. The success of Telenor Pakistan Telecommunications for Development (T4D)? initiatives shows that to fight poverty, mobile operators must partner with gifted individuals from rural populations and create simple, effective and customized business solutions. This was stated by Irfan Wahab Khan, the EVP Corporate & Regulatory Affairs Telenor Pakistan, in a presentation titled Providing Shared Access to Voice and Data in rural parts of Pakistan? at the GSMA Members Forum in Macau, Hong Kong.

Telenor Pakistan has been invited to the event to represent the use of mobile technology in Pakistan for the social and economic development of the country.

The forum that opens a day before GSMA 2007 Mobile Asia Congress - one of the largest telecommunication events in the world - is an intimate gathering of high-level industry representatives, who are actively involved or interested in using mobile technology in social, economic and environmental development projects.

Irfan shared with the audience key learning from two major Telenor Pakistan Corporate Responsibility initiatives: apnaPCO and Telenor Rabta Centers. Both initiatives were executed in partnership with the GSMA Development Fund.

Irfan explained that the apnaPCO pilot project, a simplified PCO solution with adequate training and customized service, has provided mobile access to 62 000+ rural households in Southern Punjab and Rural Sindh and has rural entrepreneurs a new business opportunity.

The pilot has shown that people in rural communities have the need and willingness to spend a significant amount of their income on telecom services. The pilot extended phase with rural women has provided this highly disadvantaged segment of the society with decent incremental income to provide for their families. With breakeven time averaging around a month and healthy revenues, the model proves the potential of the Pakistani rural entrepreneur to the world? Irfan added.

Talking about Telenor Rabta Centers, Irfan said that these community information centers offered all modern communication facilities under one roof: E-mailing, Internet searching, Video Conferencing, Printing, Document Composing, Scanning, CD burning, Faxing, Photocopying, Downloading different forms, EasyLoad, make mobile phone calls, and a number of other Telenor Pakistan value-added services. The services used Telenor Pakistan high-speed EDGE network which is the country largest - to help bridge the digital divide. Irfan said that the efficiency and productivity of a population increases with easy access to ICTs, thus contributing to their well-being and prosperity. Telenor Rabta Centers have been established in Quetta (Balochistan), Khuzdar (Balochistan), Bagh (Azad Kashmir), Jamal Deen Wali (Rahim Yar Khan, Punjab), Ahmadpur Sial (Jhang, Punjab) and 18 Hazari (Jhang, Punjab).

The poor are individually poor but collectively they have the ability to buy services that will increase their productivity and generate economic activity? Irfan concluded,We just need to give them a fair chance.?

The session included presentations from several telecom leaders and experts from Bangladesh, India and Pakistan.

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