In today’s interconnected globe, the Internet has become an integral part of our lives, economies influencing businesses and individuals. Recent international news says that a study by the Pakistan Institute of Development Economics sheds light on the main consequences of internet shutdowns in Pakistan. This article explores the economic impact of such outages on various sectors and highlights the urgent need for better internet infrastructure.
Understanding the Economic Cost:
The research conducted by PIDE reveals that a mere 24-hour shutdown of internet services results in a staggering loss of Rs1.3 billion. To put this into perspective, this amount accounts for approximately 0.57% of Pakistan’s daily GDP average, underlining the critical role of the Internet in the nation’s economy.
Internet: A Fundamental Necessity:
In the digital age, the Internet has evolved from a convenience to a fundamental necessity. Dr. Nadeem ul Haque, Vice Chancellor of PIDE, and Mohammad Shaaf Najib, a research fellow at PIDE, emphasize that Pakistan’s internet infrastructure falls behind in quality and coverage.
Impact on Multiple Sectors:
International News; The recent internet closures in Pakistan have profoundly affected various sectors, resulting in significant financial and operational challenges. The disruptions have severely impacted sectors, including online food delivery cab services, freelancing, postal services and transport.
Online Cab Services:
Online cab services, which have become a cornerstone of modern transportation, experienced a staggering 97% reduction in rides on days when internet services were disrupted. This decline translates into a daily loss of Rs29 to 32 million for the industry.
Food Delivery Services:
Moreover, food delivery services saw a 75% reduction in orders during internet shutdowns, leading to a substantial daily loss of Rs135 million.
The freelance community, a significant contributor to Pakistan’s economy, also faced the brunt of internet disruptions. Denial of orders to Pakistan-based freelance workers resulted in over $1.3 million loss of revenue, equivalent to Rs390 million, impacting livelihoods and the national economy.
The suspension of 3G/4G services for a single day alone causes a loss of Rs450 million to the telecommunication sector.Breaking news, This highlights the broader impact of internet closures, affecting not only specific industries but also the telecommunication backbone of the country.
Economic Costs of Protests:
PIDE had previously estimated the economic costs of protests to be around 2.0% of the GDP. Closure of economic activity due to protests or internet shutdowns contributes significantly to economic losses in the country.
The Importance of Accessible Internet:
Dr Nadeem ul Haque emphasizes that high-quality internet access opens doors for youth, especially in remote areas, and bridges the gap between the privileged and the common public. Access to online education and professional tools empowers youth from rural regions, enabling them to compete nationally and internationally.
PIDE’s Advocacy for “Internet for All”:
PIDE has consistently advocated for “internet for all” and urges the government to prioritize nationwide internet coverage. Regulatory measures should encourage telecommunication companies to expand internet access across the country. Spectrum auctions should focus on ensuring universal internet coverage rather than solely generating revenue.
Internet shutdowns, often for arbitrary reasons, disrupt essential economic activities in Pakistan. These disruptions hinder economic transactions, business operations, and overall growth.
PIDE is committed to fostering a digital landscape that empowers individuals and contributes positively to Pakistan’s economic growth. The research findings underscore the urgency of addressing challenges in Pakistan’s internet infrastructure to ensure a prosperous and connected future for all.
Conclusion: A Call for Connectivity
The impact of shutting down the Internet in Pakistan is enormous, reaching far and wide. It doesn’t just hit businesses and industries; it hits everyday people hard. We need to tackle the problems with Pakistan’s internet system to ensure everyone can stay connected and enjoy a brighter future. It’s a job for the government, telecom companies, and all of us who have a stake in this. A well-connected Pakistan isn’t just a nice-to-have; it’s a big push towards more jobs and a better life for all.