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World Bank grants $149.7m for Pakistan’s digital economy, barrage upgrades

World Bank grants $149.7m for Pakistan's digital economy
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March 23, 2024 (MLN): The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors has approved $149.7 million in financing for Pakistan to support two projects; the Digital Economy Enhancement Project (DEEP) and the Sindh Barrages Improvement Project (SBIP).

The Digital Economy Enhancement Project ($78m) will support the expansion of digitally enabled public service delivery for citizens and firms.

Meanwhile, the second Additional Financing for the Sindh Barrages Improvement Project ($71.7m) will support better resilience to floods and improvements in the reliability, safety, and management of the three Sindh barrages.

“The catastrophic floods that hit Pakistan in 2022 were a tragic reminder of the importance to build resilience to such disasters, including by strengthening barrages and their management,” said Najy Benhassine, World Bank Country Director for Pakistan.

“Also, supporting the growing digital economy in Pakistan is key for economic and social development, broadening connectivity and access to government and financial services for citizens and entrepreneurs, particularly women,” he added.

DEEP will develop digital authentication and data-sharing platforms to enable Pakistan to respond more effectively and efficiently to shocks, deliver better e-government services to citizens and firms, and support regulatory reforms in the sector, including to enable greater private participation, and strengthening personal data protection and online safety.

The project will also promote financial inclusion by enabling women in particular, to open bank accounts or apply remotely for credit through a smartphone application. It will also contribute to addressing barriers such as limited mobility and digital literacy.

The digital economy and demand for digital government services have been growing across the country, increasing the need for connectivity, digital payments, and secure and trusted digital transactions.

“The project takes a whole-of-government approach to digital transformation and will help ensure that digital platforms are inclusive and trusted,” said Shan Rehman, Task Team Leader for the project.

The second additional financing for the SBIP will support the full completion and commissioning of the Guddu and Sukkur barrages rehabilitation works and improve the management of three barrages in Sindh including Guddu, Sukkur and Kotri.

Having safe and effective barrages to convey flood waters downstream is a crucial part of building climate resilience in Sindh.

The additional financing will also contribute to strengthening the provincial Barrage Management Unit’s technical capacities, promoting women’s participation in emergency preparedness, and implementing extensive citizen engagement and stakeholder participation.

"Barrages such as the ones supported by SBIP are critical for the livelihoods and climate-resilience of the Sindh Province,” said Francois Onimus, Task Team Leader for the project.

“The project will increase the resilience of the canal systems that are fed from these barrages, reducing the adverse impacts of extreme floods and drought events,” he added.

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Posted on: 2024-03-23T15:24:20+05:00