Unlocking Pakistan’s Digital Future: Insights from Telenor Asia’s Digital Lives Decoded Study

With mobile devices becoming increasingly central to our daily lives, the second-year study of ‘Digital Lives Decoded’ conducted by Telenor Asia determined the key drivers of mobile use: forging healthy social connections, opening new opportunities, a safer online experience, learning and growing with new skills and reducing our impact on the planet.  

The first Digital Lives Decoded study in 2022 came at a time when Pakistan was emerging from a global pandemic and the pace of digital adoption accelerated. Building upon the foundation laid by its predecessor, Digital Lives Decoded 2023 offers a comprehensive analysis of mobile usage and its impact on key facets of daily life. With insights gathered from over 8,000 mobile users in Bangladesh, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam, the report provides invaluable insights into the dynamics of digital living in the region. 

This year’s findings build on those trends, signaling that mobile phone usage will continue to gain momentum and further propel people to seek ways to upskill, enhance their careers, and access new revenue streams that only mobile connectivity allows. A stand-out finding this year was that amidst a challenging economy and high inflationary environment, mobiles are being widely used as a tool to manage rising costs of living. People are turning to their mobile devices to compare prices (70%) or find the best deal (65%), accessing the numerous financial management and budgeting tools, calculators, or apps that can help manage their finances during difficult times. Not only these, 95% of respondents residing in Pakistan, have seen their career and skills development improve in the past five years due to mobile phone usage. 

In Pakistan, trends indicate significant increases in mobile device use over the next 1-2 years (37% vs 28% regionally), where respondents are more likely than their regional counterparts to use their mobile device daily to access educational content (68% vs 27% regionally), healthcare (27% vs 14% regionally) and food and grocery delivery apps (30% vs 16% regionally).  

While Pakistanis feel that mobile devices have significantly enhanced their performance and quality of work, concerns about overuse, privacy, security, and digital skills persist. A staggering 27% of mobile users in Pakistan feel they are overusing their devices, the highest among the surveyed markets. Additionally, while Pakistanis show a greater propensity to access news stories on social media platforms like X (formerly Twitter), they are also the most likely to report daily encounters with fake news (39% compared to 21% regionally). Despite being confident in their digital skills, 51% express concerns about keeping pace with future technological changes, highlighting the need for continuous digital upskilling. Privacy and security concerns, though less of a barrier for work-related mobile use, remain significant, with 32% expressing worry. These findings underscore the complex relationship Pakistanis have with their mobile devices, balancing the benefits of enhanced productivity with the challenges of maintaining digital well-being and security. 

Khurram Ashfaque, Chief Executive Officer, Telenor Pakistan said, “As Pakistan emerges from the challenges of the global pandemic, the latest Telenor Asia Digital Lives Decoded study reveals a profound shift in the role of mobile technology in people’s lives. As we navigate this digital landscape, the data reveals a promising trajectory: mobile usage is increasingly shaping work dynamics and fostering skill acquisition, setting the stage for significant economic growth. These insights underscore the pivotal role of stakeholders in capitalising on this momentum. Through strong connectivity infrastructure, embracing emerging technologies, and enhancing digital literacy, we can collectively propel Pakistan towards a digital future anchored in a safer, more inclusive digital ecosystem.” 


Building Healthy Social Connections Online 

Building healthy social connections online remains of paramount priority to people. 95% of individuals surveyed in Pakistan acknowledge the positive impact of mobile devices on their relationships, with significant improvements noted in connections with both family members and friends. In Pakistan, where internet penetration has surged from 8% to 21%, mobile technology plays a pivotal role in fostering connectivity, empowering users, and facilitating personal growth. Notably, Pakistani mobile users exhibit a heightened sense of empowerment across various online activities, including shopping, search engine use, and messaging.  

Unlocking New Opportunities at Work  

Unlocking new opportunities at work is a prevailing trend fueled by mobile technologies, with 83% of respondents attesting to increased productivity and 87% noting improved work quality and performance over the last five years. Nearly half of respondents from across the region believed that the mobiles would help them get ahead at work (42%) or switch careers (45%), underpinning the enormous potential of mobile connectivity.  Notably, Pakistanis stand out among their regional counterparts, with 47% reporting significant enhancements in performance and quality in the last 1-5 years, and 44% experiencing notable career progression and skills development. This underscores the transformative impact of mobile devices in the workplace, particularly evident in Pakistan where daily mobile usage to unlock new opportunities at work that surpass regional averages. 

A Safer Online Experience 

As mobile usage expands, so do concerns regarding privacy and security, particularly in the context of emerging technologies like generative AI. The study sheds light on these apprehensions, with 57% of respondents emphasising the importance of privacy and security considerations in their mobile device usage. Notably, 9 in 10 respondents said they were concerned about privacy and security, with 44% of total respondents indicating they were very concerned. Despite feeling confident in their digital skills, Pakistanis are wary of future technological changes and potential security breaches. However, these concerns have not hindered their mobile usage for work, with 32% feeling unaffected by privacy and security worries, in line with trends from 2022. Additionally, Pakistanis demonstrate a higher likelihood of encountering fake news (39%, compared to 21% regionally), emphasising the need for continued vigilance and digital literacy efforts in the region. 

Tapping into Learning and Personal Growth 

Mobile usage continues to be a catalyst for upskilling and income generation, as evidenced by the findings from the 2023 Digital Lives Decoded Study. Across the region, 56% of respondents highlight their mobile devices as avenues for acquiring new skills, with an overwhelming 87% having utilised their mobiles for skills acquisition in the past year, with Indonesia leading this trend. In Pakistan, where daily access to educational content via mobile devices is significantly higher than the regional average at 68%, the trend extends to acquiring of new and emerging skills such as e-commerce sales (52%), communications skills and languages (65%), and social media management (58%). Remarkably, 75% of Pakistanis aspire to leverage these newfound skills to create additional income streams, reflecting the transformative potential of mobile technology in socioeconomic empowerment. 

Reducing Our Impact on the Planet 

Mobile technology continues to play a significant role in promoting sustainability and well-being, as indicated by the findings from the study. Across the surveyed population, 72% recognise the eco-friendly benefits of mobile use, such as reducing paper consumption and facilitating access to educational resources and information. In Pakistan, this sentiment is particularly strong, with 93% of respondents acknowledging the sustainability advantages offered by mobile devices. Notably, 29% of Pakistanis utilise their mobile devices daily for mental or spiritual well-being apps, surpassing the regional average of 18%. These statistics underscore the pivotal role of mobile technology in fostering environmentally conscious behaviors and enhancing overall quality of life. 


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