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Fault in SCO Fiber-Optic Cripples Internet Across Gilgit-Baltistan

A fault in Special Communications Organization (SCO) optic-fiber has disconnected the whole Gilgit-Baltistan from rest of the world. This is the 3rd time in just one month that the optic-fiber has faced such an issue. SCO, which is a Pakistani Army run organization, has been frequently criticized for its miserable services and a monopoly that it has been able to create by disallowing private companies to operate in the regions of Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan.

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Fault in SCO Fiber-Optic Cripples Internet Across Gilgit-Baltistan

A fault in Special Communications Organization (SCO) optic-fiber has disconnected the whole Gilgit-Baltistan from rest of the world. This is the 3rd time in just one month that the optic-fiber has faced such an issue. SCO, which is a Pakistani Army run organization, has been frequently criticized for its miserable services and a monopoly that it has been able to create by disallowing private companies to operate in the regions of Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan.

Internet users have been reporting slow speeds since Sunday evening. The downtime is not only affecting businesses but also home users and students who refer to online resources for research, learning, communication and entertainment.

While talking to GBee News, Aslam Shah, who is a journalist and editor-in-chief of monthly Kanjuut Today, said that the internet issue has been going on ever since SCO started DSL services in the region. He said that due to slow speed of internet, their publication faces issues which is creating a bad name for the magazine itself.

Adding more, he said:

“We have been trying to send the July edition of our monthly magazine to Lahore through email but due to slow internet speed, we have not been able to send it for over 2 days now. There is currently a power shortage in Hunza and such publications could not be printed locally.”

Hunza Girl freelancing

A female freelancer is busy doing an online assignment at a KADO-run IT Resource Center in Gilgit. KADO has trained thousand of young male and female digital work force to enable them in generating an online income. Poor internet connectivity is major hurdle in the careers of these young freelancers.

Similarly, Basit Ali, who is a freelancer from Skardu in Baltitstan region, faces similar issues. According to him, he has not been able to meet deadlines of online clients. He is thinking to move to Rawalpindi just because of the fact that frequent internet outage is affecting his professional career.

Thousands of freelancers like Basit Ali have been trained by Karakoram Area Development Organization (KADO) and Aga Khan Rural Support Program (AKRSP),  both non-government organizations. Due to unavailability of new DSL connections by SCO and poor internet connectivity, many of them are not able to pursue their freelancing ambitions.

Gilgit-Baltistan is a region that is hugely dependent on tourism. Many tour operating companies have moved their offices from Gilgit-Baltistan to cities due to shortage of resources like electricity and internet. Tour operating companies rely on internet marketing to attract tourists to the region.

Business & Economy

Telenor Pakistan set to galvanize agricultural growth in Gilgit – Baltistan through digital innovation

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Telenor Pakistan set to galvanize agricultural growth in Gilgit – Baltistan through digital innovation

Islamabad – August 29, 2017: Expanding its digital footprint to the far-flung and underserved areas of the country, Pakistan’s premier telecom, and digital services provider, Telenor Pakistan has launched its mobile agriculture advisory service ‘Khushaal Zamindaar’ in Gilgit – Baltistan. Launched in collaboration with Market Development Facility (MDF), the innovative service will provide localized and customized advisory services to facilitate local farmers in increasing their agricultural yield.

The high-spirited launch event was held at a local hotel in the provincial capital, Gilgit. The honorable guests include MDF, members from Agha Khan Rural Support Program (AKRSP), Japan Inter Cooperation Agency (JICA), International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), media persons, community leaders, female farmers of Gilgit and Telenor Pakistan officials.

‘Khushaal Zamindaar’ is Telenor Pakistan’s innovative and industry-first initiative, initially launched in Punjab to help small scale farmers to adopt modern and best practices in agriculture.  It provides localized, contextualized and customized information including weather forecasts, timely agronomic & livestock advisory through SMS and robot calls to help increase crop yield,  reduce post-harvest losses, safeguard nutrition and better manage adverse climatic effects and natural resources. Currently, more than 04 million small scale farmers subscribe to this free of cost service covering a range of cash crops, fruits and vegetables, fodders and livestock and 20 percent of them are women farmers.

The mobile agriculture service in Gilgit – Baltistan will provide location based weather forecast and information about value chains like Apricots, apple, potato and other crops cultivated in the region. The service shall also benefit the farmers who rear livestock, potentially transforming the domestic use to commercial benefits in the long run.

Speaking at the event, Head of Mobile Agriculture, Telenor Pakistan, Habib Saqib said: “Telenor Pakistan is bringing its innovative mobile agriculture solution to Gilgit – Baltistan to supplement the socio – economic progress of the region. Khushaal Zamindar will enable and empower the local farmers to make calculated and informed decisions to increase their agricultural yield. They will also be able to adopt best practices used around the world to get better yields in terms of quality and quantity. The initiative comes in line with Telenor Pakistan’s commitment to empowering the societies and we believe that true empowerment comes with financial liberty. We will continue to contribute to the socio – economic progress and well-being of the region.”

Sharing his thoughts, Osman Anwar, Coordinator Pakistan Country Team, MDF said“Telenor’s 7272 service is very relevant for smallholder farmers in Gilgit-Baltistan. The MDF would like to congratulate Telenor for launching a service which has been designed by including feedback from a multitude of farmers. Weather alerts, forecasts, and crop advisory are core to a successful farming system particularly in Gilgit-Baltistan, a region where providing physical extension is difficult in hard to reach valleys and accurate weather information is seldom available. We hope that Telenor builds on the exciting suite of services and continues to add value in the lives of smallholder farmers by providing practical solutions to problems around information, market access, and credit.”

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Business & Economy

AKDN Announces Prosperity Cup for Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral (GBC)

Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) has announced Prosperity Cup 2016 to encourage young men and women from Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral (GBC) in starting their own business. The project is being implemented through Aga Khan Rural Support Program (AKRSP) in association with The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE) Islamabad chapter.

Imran Ahmed Hunzai

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Prosperity Cup Gilgit
Photo: Accelerate Prosperity Pakistan

Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) has announced Prosperity Cup 2016 to encourage young men and women from Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral (GBC) to start their own business. The Prosperity Cup applicants will be inducted through an incubation process called Accelerate Prosperity. The project is being implemented through Aga Khan Rural Support Program (AKRSP) in association with The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE) Islamabad chapter. The competition will kickstart startup activities in Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral, which is very much the need of the hour.

The incubation process will start on November 15, 2016, which is also the deadline to submit a business idea. An application form has been made available on the official website that can be filled before the deadline. This would be the first time such a contest is being held in the region.

The competition is open for anyone from Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral no matter if the applicant is living within GBC or somewhere else. A set of rules and competition guidelines to enter the Prosperity Cup  have been provided on the website as well.

The vision of Prosperity Cup is to inculcate an entrepreneurial culture across Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral (GBC) through the implementation of business model based competitions, mentorship-based incubation and investment.

Accelerate Prosperity- Prosperity Cup Process

Here is a snapshot of the whole incubation process from start to a level where a startup can be eligible to get investment and funding.

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