Federal Minister for Information Technology and Telecommunication Syed Amin Ul Haque here on Wednesday inaugurated ‘Gokina Smart Village Project’. Highlighting the Gokina Smart Village Project details, Amin said that three priority areas were identified through the needs assessment study in Gokina, a valley settlement located 21 kilometers from Islamabad.
Initially, one Smart Village will be established in Islamabad, followed by one each in Punjab, Balochistan, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and Gilgit-Baltistan. The minister said that there was a medical center in the village with limited to no medical services available. The health worker would be responsible to provide very basic health advice and services to the community members.
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It was also highlighted that the biggest challenge in getting access to health services was that it was time consuming, as it involved commuting to Islamabad. The project has identified an e-health provider (Sehat Kahani) to bridge this gap.
The pilot project comes under the umbrella of Smart Villages of Pakistan, a nationwide initiative launched by the MoITT in 2021 together with Universal Service Fund (USF), International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and Huawei.
Lauding the efforts of USF, ITU and Huawei, the minister said, “It is anticipated that the pilot projects and the Smart Pakistan Village initiative as a whole will help overcome key challenges that people in rural areas face such as limited access to healthcare, education, financial, and digital services, unemployment and lack of income-creation opportunities, gender gaps, and a rural-urban divide exacerbated by uneven technology proliferation. The Smart Village Pakistan Projects will be initiated in all provinces very soon.”
Education- Gokina village has a high school for boys and for girls. However, it was found that there were no science teachers, particularly in girls’ school, which created hurdles for students in getting benefits both, in terms of learning as well as competing for the future professional opportunities. The project has identified an e-education provider (Tele-Taleem) to bridge this gap.
Digital Skills & Entrepreneurship- It was found that there was a clear need and demand for digital skills enhancement and entrepreneurship, whereby community members can utilize a hybrid model of digital as well as non-digital tools to become entrepreneurs in the identified areas like fashion, stitching, handicrafts and other home businesses for women. Modern agricultural skills, chef skills for local youth, marketing of products and access to finance and market for existing and upcoming businessmen in the communities was also highlighted.
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Speaking on the occasion, NADRA Chairman Tariq Malik said, “After the success of Mobile NADRA vehicle, we are excited to launch the NADRA Motorcycle Services – starting from Gokina Smart Village, and shall soon be initiated all over Pakistan – where people will be able to avail all NADRA facilities close to their homes, such as family registration certificate, child registration certificate, and more.”
Earlier in his opening remarks, Haaris Mahmood Chaudhary, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of USF said, “Gokina Smart Village project is an exemplary model of how we envision the future of digital inclusivity in Pakistan. Sustainable digital growth is key to accelerating rural development and supporting the socioeconomic stability of individuals.
“The agenda of the USF is to empower the underserved communities. We look forward to transformative collaborations with our esteemed partners ITU, Huawei, NADRA, and Jazz, as well as service providers TeleTaleem and Sehat Kahani, to have a significant impact on the lives of these people”, he said.
Atsuko Okuda, Reginal Director of ITU said, “The Smart Village Pakistan initiative promotes a whole-of-government approach to bring the benefits of digital transformation in sectors such as health, education and agriculture to the rural and remote communities, leaving no one behind and offline.”
Ahmed Bilal Masud, Deputy CEO of Huawei Technologies Pakistan said, “Huawei continues to progress in Pakistan as a market leader with USF projects in the rural areas through our operators.
“The challenges that come with digitalization are large, but the opportunity is even larger in Pakistan. Digitalization is essential for competitiveness, representing an incentive to increase the ability to play a more significant role in the international community”, he said.
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