Losses caused by one day closure of internet services countrywide

Engineering Post Report

As the general election date of February 8,2024 was approaching, there were conflicting reports about closure or no closure of the internet services throughout the country when the most important and significant event was taking place.

The outgoing caretaker federal government first quite categorically announced that the internet services will remain open and free from any obstruction on the polling day.

then all of a sudden the stance was changed and the internet services were closed throughout the country when the people went to cast their votes by the caretaker federal government attributing this extreme step to the security concerns and threats without anyone bothering about the losses this may cause to a pretty large number of people directly and indirectly.

One of the groups most immediately affected by the internet shutdown was online workers. There are daily workers who earn their livelihood on platforms such as Careem, Food panda , and In drive. These people quite obviously required stable internet access through mobile phone data for performing their jobs. Food panda and other services such as Careem were out of service because their captains and riders had no way of accepting rides/orders or following the maps while driving around to perform their jobs.. According to the figures available from the concerned quarters, there were over 13000 Foodpanda and Bikes riders, 30000 Uber and Careem captains, and around 12000 Foodpanda home chefs whose daily wages were dependent on broadband data.

Similarly, the internet services in a surprising manner also had a serious impact on the freelancers. A large number of Pakistanis work for foreign clients in various countries around the globe to earn their living. The gig-economy is an emerging sector in Pakistan. Freelancers throughout the country earned around $400 million in both 2021 as well as in 2022 which accounted for about 15 percent of Pakistan’s overall total $ 2.6 billion Information Communication Technology(ICT) sector related exports.

Furthermore, Point of Sale machines, often known as debit/credit machines, also use sims to establish a network connection and establish network connection and make digital payments.

Telecom operators estimated their losses to be around Rs 820 million and the federal government through such a shutdown on internet services also suffered an approximate loss of Rs 287 million in tax revenue.