DFID Pakistan hosts Mobile and Digital for Development Ecosystems

December 11, 2017 | Connected Society | Pakistan | Julia Burchell

This blog was written by Julia Burchell and Mariana Lopez

On Thursday 9 November, the GSMA Mobile for Development (M4D) team working in Pakistan joined other partners at the Country Office of their strategic partner Department for International Development (DFID) to share an overview of mobile and digital for development activities in Pakistan. The event aimed to showcase and stimulate dialogue on innovation between the M4D Programme, DFID Pakistan, mobile network operators (MNOs) and relevant partners, as well as providing a platform for connections and knowledge exchange between those working on complementary areas within the mobile and digital space.

GSMA has a long history in working in Pakistan

Pakistan is of strategic importance to the M4D team at the GSMA. The potential of the mobile and digital ecosystem in the country has enabled different programmes to implement impactful initiatives on the ground.

Pakistan is a flourishing competitive market for mobile money; this service has seen robust growth over the last two years. The GSMA Mobile Money team has been part of this momentum as one of the first stakeholders to deep dive in the Over-the-counter (OTC) service model with the mobile network operator EasyPaisa, taking the lead in driving interoperability of mobile money accounts in the market and by driving forward recommendations for operators, regulators and policy makers to grow digital commerce in this market. The Mobile Money programme has also recently organised a joint hackathon with the operators and Karandaaz in the market to showcase the power of operator collaboration and Open APIs. In addition, two operators EasyPaisa and JazzCash were the first few deployments across the world to hold Mobile Money Code of Conduct self-assessments.

The Connected Women team are focused on closing the gender gap of mobile access and usage in low and middle-income economies. Women in South Asia are 38% less likely (than men) to own a mobile phone. The team is partnering with Telenor Pakistan to address this gap and help them reach more women in their mobile money and mobile internet services under the Connected Women Commitment initiative. The team has also conducted targeted research in the country producing a report containing actionable insights on how the mobile industry can trigger internet uptake among non-users (particularly women) in South Asia.

The mAgri team has worked with MNOs to create opportunities for them to engage with rural customers more effectively. For example, the GSMA’s partnership with Telenor Pakistan resulted in the development of an Agri Value Added Service (Agri-VAS) that offers daily weather forecasts and farm and livestock advisory to farmers over mobile channels. With exceptionally high user engagement and 53% of power users reporting an increase in their income, the service has over four million users today. The mAgri team is presently working with Jazz, the leading MNO by market share, to develop enterprise services addressing the needs of both agribusinesses and farmers, with the objective of providing an avenue towards sustainable digital and financial inclusion of smallholder farmers.

The Digital Identity Programme is working closely with Telenor Pakistan, UNICEF and the local government of Punjab and Sindh provinces to develop the implementation of a mobile digital birth registration service that addresses Pakistan’s relatively low birth registration rate. Over an initial seven month pilot, registration rates in Sindh province increased by more than 200% and those in Punjab by 126%. The GSMA is now supporting Telenor Pakistan in understanding key sustainability drivers which will enable the service to be scaled more widely, in addition to highlighting important considerations in regards to how birth registrars can be appropriately incentivised and awareness of the service can be increased.

About the event

The event was structured in two sections; the first half included an overview of the GSMA M4D activities in Pakistan, as well as a deeper dive into some of the current projects mentioned above. This section also comprised presentations from DFID Pakistan supported initiatives, such as the District Delivery Challenge Fund, which manages IT based innovations for the health sector to improve service delivery; Knowledge Platform, a company that develops e-learning and blended learning training programs for the education sector; and Karandaaz, a not-for-profit company that promotes financial inclusion for individuals through digital solutions. The second half of the event was a networking lunch in a marketplace format, which allowed delegates in small groups to ask questions to the presenters from first half. Each initiative had a ‘stall’ which attendees visited to learn more and engage in discussion.

The GSMA M4D and DFID Pakistan teams convened a full audience of MNOs, DFID, and social enterprises, who listened attentively, asked thoughtful questions and made potentially fruitful connections with each other. The GSMA M4D team were pleased to have the chance to give a comprehensive overview of M4D and to dive deeper into some of the ongoing projects in Pakistan. This was also a great opportunity for the GSMA to meet DFID colleagues in the country office, some whom are completely immersed in digital for development and others who are just discovering the potential that technology presents. The event brought various stakeholders together in one forum to highlight the progress in the digitisation space in Pakistan and to start a new dialog in this market that can lead to explore new partnership opportunities between the GSMA, MNOs, DFID and their grantees.


his initiative is currently funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID), and supported by the GSMA and its members.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *