Digital connectivity, skill development to help cut poverty in rural areas

February 22, 2024

Muneeb ur Rehman

The reports of international organizations like the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) on the rising rates of rural poverty in Pakistan have raised serious concerns. Among various potential options, implementing digital connectivity initiatives and programs focused on skill development can substantially reduce rural poverty, said experts. Talking to WealthPK, Kamal Hayat, Managing Director of Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund (PPAF), said in the present era of technological revolution, digital connectivity and skill development of the youth in the rural areas can allow people to escape poverty by providing them with various employment opportunities.

As per the 'Pakistan Development Update' released by the World Bank, the poverty rate is anticipated to reach 37.2% during the current fiscal year, based on the World Bank standard of $2.15 per day. Kamal lauded the government's efforts in upgrading the digital infrastructure over time. “It is heartening to mention that the penetration of internet facility in the country shows an upward trend. However, it is equally crucial to lay great emphasis on the digital infrastructure in the rural areas, especially in the provinces of KP and Balochistan.”

Source: Pakistan Economic Survey

He also mentioned his organization’s efforts in this regard. Together with the Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL), the PPAF is executing Ba-Ikhtiar Project to provide skills and training to women entrepreneurs. Likewise, Maroof Ali Syed, Chief Executive Officer of Centre for Economic Research in Pakistan (CERP) underscored the importance of internet connectivity for rural development in the following words. “In an era of growing global interconnectedness, the less-developed regions can reap the advantages of improved connectivity.

Pakistan, where rural population accounts for 62.27% of the total population, is in a better position to improve the livelihood of rural people by providing them with necessary digital skills and connectivity”. The expansion of skills development programs to rural areas, he said, presents opportunities for rural development by facilitating improved market access, creating off-farm employment opportunities, and enhancing access to financial services for the rural population.

INP: Credit: INP-WealthPk