After AccessAfter Access is a catalyst for positive change – A comprehensive body of research that includes nationally representative, demand side data comparable across more than 18 countries in Asia, Latin America, and Africa. Digital Inequality between the Urban and Rural SectorsAfter Access conducted a number of surveys to study the accessibility and usage of ICTs in the rural and urban sectors of sample countries. Its main target was to gather primary data from various households and individuals, in order to explore the reasons behind digital inequality between the urban and rural sectors of the respective countries. Pakistan was one of the sample countries facilitating the survey. The data from the survey can be broken down into segments of gender, education levels, location/area – urban or rural. The research was carried out by LIRNE in Asia, DIRSI in Latin America and research ICT Africa, in Africa. The survey was conducted between April 2017 and June 2018 through a series of 38,005 collective and individual interviews in a face to face 90-minute session.Nationally representative sample A nationally representative sample implies taking into account both, rural and urban population, including every district, ward, household and village. This helps to ensure a comprehensive national sample frame including or dealing with nearly all elements or aspects under study. The age group starts from 15 years till 65 years and has a 95% confidence margin, with a 3 % plus-minus margin of error. Data was collected through common questionnaires and comparable methodology. This methodology is further branched into six simple steps:1. The sample frame was divided into two categories: urban and rural.2. Sampling the number of desired individuals from the area through PPS (Probability Proportional Size).3. Noting down and marking every household selected which was then later used for simple random selection.4. 20-25 households were selected through simple random selection from each selected enumerator area.5. Staying the night at the selected household and listing all the members from ages 15 to 65.6. Using the Kish grid, a simple random selection was done of one household member for the survey.The overall base of methodology was adjusted according to each country, as every country provided a different type of sample frame, with varying poverty levels and the general success criteria of the country under-study. This means, categorizing the country based on its development criteria – developing or developed.The sample frame for Pakistan used specifications from ‘Pakistan Bureau of Statistics’. However, this data can not be assessed by state, district or province as it was never designed to do so. In Pakistan, 2,000 households and individuals were surveyed from 100 enumerator areas. It was designed to reflect at least 98% of the group in a target. However, due to some practical and security reasons, Azad Jammu and Kashmir, Gilgit Baltistan and FATA (federally administered tribal areas) had to be omitted from the sample frame. This amounted to approximately 2% of the total population of Pakistan.Mobile phone ownership in PakistanMost countries, according to findings, had an urban-rural gap reflecting mobile ownership. – with rural/less developed areas owning fewer mobile phones than the population of urban/developed areas. However, Pakistan and Bangladesh indicated minimal gap between the two segments. This means that individuals from rural areas were as likely to possess mobile phones as in urban areas. With gender, however, Pakistan showed significant gap, with 37% of women not owning the device. Mobile ownership gap in the gender category was prominent in Asian countries, with India having the highest rate of 46%. It was concluded that 57% of the people in Pakistan (2,002 respondents) possessed a mobile phone, with 58% having an active SIM – meaning it was in use within the last 30 days. The survey also showed that only 2% of them actually owned a desktop computer or laptops. Out of 2,002 respondents, 793 people belonged to urban backgrounds whereas 1,209 people belonged from rural areas. Out of this, 1060 individuals were males and the remaining 942 individuals, were females.Majority of the individuals in Asia didn’t have internet facility in their mobile phones which were mainly used for calling and texting. India ranked below both Pakistan and Bangladesh with internet-enabled mobile phone ownership.Types of mobile phones:In Pakistan, out of 1,208 individuals, 53% owned basic mobile phones, from which 52% were males and 53% were females. 25% possessed feature phones, out of which 28% were males and 20% were females. 22% of the people had smartphones, out of which 20% were males and 27% were femalesInternet usage and social media:Internet awareness was a major problem across most Asian countries. An astonishing number of only 35% of the Indian population from the sample size knew what it meant. However, from Pakistan and out of 2,002 respondents, 37% of them had a fair idea about it.17% of them were using the internet, out of which 942 were females and 1060 were males. When it came to internet usage, further options were explored simultaneously, like whether the individuals use the internet generally or for social networking. The results showed that 17% had internet usage while 14% were using it for social media. There were two major reasons for not using the internet facility on mobile phones in Pakistan. Firstly, the majority of the sample population didn’t know what it was and secondly, they didn’t have access to it. The highest usage of internet is mostly done through smart phones in Pakistan. Internet usage was further divided into various categories like whether individuals use their mobile phones for business apps, gaming apps, weather apps, entertainment apps or more. The results showed that majority of the individuals in Pakistan use their mobile phones for social networking and messaging or chatting applications followed by voice apps like WhatsApp, Viber, Skype etc.Pakistan, alongside Bangladesh, India and other Asian countries was one of the countries where there were huge gender gaps, especially in the category of rural areas. Individuals belonging to lower income or less educated segments were the major contributors to the gender gap. It was further found that social media was most popular with individuals under the age of 35. In Pakistan particularly, social media was most common amongst those with good quality higher or secondary education. Out of 369 social media users, in Pakistan, 73% of them utilized it for chatting/texting closely, followed by 72% of the individuals who use it to stay in touch with family and friends. 70% of the individuals used it to make calls.The survey showed that individuals belonging to Asian countries were least willing to spend large amounts of their incomes on various services of mobile phones, especially mobile internet. In Pakistan, after studying 1,208 individuals it was concluded that spending on Voice SMS and data were far greater in rural areas than those in urban. Findings here also had very little gender gaps as males and females were almost equal. Mobile internet spendings were greater in rural areas especially in the males perhaps due to lack of public WiFi or Internet cafes.E-commerce:Mobile money and money banking were least common in countries of Asia, especially Pakistan. Mobile banking was completely nil in Pakistan amongst the 1,208 individuals in the sample. When it comes to platforms which include transactions between services, many were aware of these platforms. For example, the Uber app is very common amongst most people as a taxi service and for transportation. Many people are also quite well aware of Ali express, Amazon, eBay for buying goods and other online shopping. Almost 125 individuals, from Pakistan, who purchased through these platforms said that the majority of their online browsing for products stays limited to searching only. 81% of these individuals only searched while 12% actually searched and placed an order. E-commerce is not very popular in Asian countries as the majority of the population believes in physical shopping, and stopping by an actual store/outlet, rather than browsing the internet. The biggest reason is perhaps lack of education as most people don’t even know how to search or place an order online. This lack of knowledge discourages the same individuals to start up online businesses and sell their products. Furthermore, income plays a huge role as many people generally avoid online shopping just to save from paying for delivery charges. When it comes to those who want to sell their products, the majority of the people felt like they didn’t need to as well as they didn’t even know how to actually do so.According to the research, there is little mobile ownership gap among the urban and rural areas of Pakistan. However, there is a significant gap when it comes to gender difference with only 37% of the women in possession of a mobile phone. With rural areas largely populated with uneducated masses, there is little to no knowledge of mobile internet especially amongst females of these regions. Majority of the sample population used basic phones while only 22% used smart phones. Considering that the mobile ownership gap is low amongst urban and rural areas, it can be predicted that mobile internet usage will also increase in the latter overtime.Published in Daily Times, November 19th 2018.