Pakistanis have increasingly started using
online platforms and digital services. The Covid-19 pandemic further boosted
dependence on the online platforms, increasing the need for localizing the
offices of digital giants.

The News spoke to Google’s Regional Director for Pakistan,
Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka Farhan S Qureshi to get an insight into the
possibility of a Google office in the country, along with other security and
data-related details.

Q. What are your future plans related to Pakistan, will you open an
office here?

A. We’re always exploring opportunities but have nothing to
announce regarding office opening at this time. We, however, continue to invest
our resources into Pakistan to drive the country to unlock its digital
potential from our partnership with NRSP to train women and youth regarding
digital literacy, work with local YouTube creators to showcase their talents
around the world, and to up skill Pakistani developers so they can compete in
the global market.

Q. What is the general trend of conducting searches through Google
in Pakistan?

A. Every year Google releases the list of top trending searches
that had a high spike in traffic over a sustained period. This is called Google
Year in Search. From 2021, search trends show that Pakistan is a cricket crazy
country. The top searches of 2021 are from Pakistan’s cricket series with South
Africa and England followed by the highlights of the games of ICC T20 World Cup
and Pakistan Super League. We also saw that there’s a big demand for both local
and international movies and TV shows, with Squid Game and Khuda Aur Mohabbat
topping the charts. Lastly, we have seen a phenomenal rise in the creator
ecosystem in Pakistan. Creators are sharing high quality content, and are
building a local and international following alike.

Q. How do you ensure data protection? What’s placed to ensure that
data security is not breached?

A. All Google products are built with strong security features
that continuously protect your information. We work hard to protect you and Google
from unauthorised access, alteration, disclosure, or destruction of information
we hold. We use encryption to keep your data private while in transit. We offer
a range of security features, like safe browsing, security checkup, and 2 step
verification to help you protect your Google account.

Q. Google has not initiated any developmental and capacity
building projects in Pakistan. Why?

A. We’re proud of the work we’ve done to help digitise Pakistan.
There are things we do to support educations in Pakistan such as in 2020, we
launched the CS first programme in collaboration with the Ministry of IT and
Telecom, the Telecom Foundation, and the Virtual Universities. In 2021, we
expanded the programme, and now nearly 400 teachers and students across 13 cities
in Pakistan have been trained in our free CS first curriculum that makes coding
easy to teach and fun to learn. To support digital education and remote
learning during the pandemic, we rolled out our free Google Workspace for
Education tools across the 400+ schools in the Islamabad Capital Territory.

On Digital Responsibility front, we provided the National Rural
Support Programme (NRSP) with a $475,000 grant from our philanthropic arm, Using the grant funds, and building on a successful pilot project
run in 2021, NRSP will scale up its “Internet Zabardast and Internet Dost”
programme throughout Pakistan in 2022. Through these projects, NRSP aims to
train 18,000 women in rural areas in how to use smartphones to access the
internet. In addition, NRSP will educate 25,000 schoolchildren on how to be
safe and confident explorers of the online world

We’re also excited to see the impact that our platforms like
Google Play and YouTube have on the developer community and creator ecosystem
here. Companies like Hazel Mobile have turned developers like Mohsin Ali and
Waqas Ahmed into multinational companies. Research from AlphaBeta, a strategic
economics consultancy, found that the annual economic value presented by
Google’s applications and platforms in Pakistan is worth Rs1 trillion ($6.3
billion) for businesses, and Rs210.2 billion ($1.3 billion) for consumers.

AlphaBeta also estimated that over 410,000 jobs are supported in
the economy through the use of Google Ads, AdSense, and YouTube. These jobs are
created through the use of Google products that enable businesses to expand
their customer base and increase revenue, thereby leading to increased hiring


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