ISLAMABAD (WEB DESK)
Minister of Planning, Development and Special Initiatives, Professor Ahsan Iqbal complimented Overseas Investors Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OICCI) for compiling a comprehensive OICCI Digital Report, titled, “Recommendations for Digital Transformation in Pakistan”. The report was thoroughly discussed during a round table conference organized by Ministry of Planning, Development and Special Initiatives in Islamabad today.
Speaking on the occasion Amir Piracha, President OICCI highlighted focus on digitization and technological revolution due to its potential to offer a once-in-a-generation opportunity for Pakistan to capitalize on this movement and bring the nation out of its current economic situation. President OICCI further added that, “While Pakistan is the 4th largest freelancing economy, the subsequent revenue is low as freelancers work on low hourly rates as compared to other nations. With necessary skill development”, Amir added, “and by utilizing competitive advantage, Pakistan needs to identify its strengths and specialize in 1-2 key areas to build upon its digitized economy like Philippines which has specialized in the field of voice over phone technology.”
Professor Ahsan Iqbal, Minister Planning, Development and Special Initiatives, Dr Najeeb Ullah, Member (S&T and ICT), Planning Commission, Dr Mukhtar Ahmed, Chairman HEC, Dr Nadeem ul Haque, Vice Chancellor PIDE, and representatives of Ministry of IT, State Bank of Pakistan, FBR, PASHA and KPITB attended the conference, endorsed the recommendations presented in the report of OICCI and appreciated OICCI for putting up comprehensive set of recommendations for digitizing Pakistan economy.
With an objective to set the country on its digital journey and help Pakistan to emerge as a key regional player, the OICCI report offers recommendations on the various facets of the digital transformation to the policymakers and stakeholders such as Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunications, State Bank of Pakistan, Federal Board of Revenue, and Higher Education Commission etc.
Saquib Ahmed, Country Managing Director SAP, and Sardar Abubakr, Chief Operating Officer Mobilink Microfinance Bank Ltd presented the key recommendations on the various facets of the digital transformation. The report highlights that currently e-commerce reflects hardly 1% of the entire retail market of Pakistan whereas, working on the recommendations given in this report, Pakistan can provide innovative employment prospects to the 23 percent of Pakistan’s young population and can add $60 billion to the Economy within next 7 to 8 years. OICCI report has recommended rapid increase in fiber optic BB penetration, focus on 4 G penetration, and need for AI policy to supplement decision making and government departments like FBR to be encouraged to maximize use of data analytics technologies. Moreover, need for up-to-date cybersecurity law and strict enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights will encourage global IT companies to set up base in Pakistan.
The participants pointed out inconsistency in policies, technical skill gap, and deficiencies in implementation and execution of the policies as key challenges that need to be addressed to help Pakistan set on the path of digitization and attract FDI in this sector. On top of this the current challenge on foreign exchange remittance was also highlighted by the participants.
In his concluding remarks, Professor Ahsan Iqbal, Federal Minister appreciated OICCI for presenting their comprehensive recommendations to help digital transformation in Pakistan and gave an overview of the challenges facing the country and how digital transformation is critical to achieve substantial growth in exports and economy. The Minister offered his full support and formed a working group comprising of representative of Ministry of Planning and IT to regularly monitor progress towards implementation of the key milestones in the OICCI Digital Recommendations report. He expressed that such public-private partnerships are critical the long-term prosperity of the country and its population.
The OICCI is the collective voice of major foreign investors in Pakistan. The over 200 OICCI members, from 31 different countries, have a presence in 14 sectors of the economy and contribute around one-third of Pakistan’s total tax revenue, besides facilitating transfer of technology and skills and providing employment to a sizeable number of people. About a third of OICCI member companies are listed on the Pakistan Stock Exchange and 40 members are associates of the Global Fortune 500 companies. Besides their business operations the OICCI members realize their corporate social responsibilities and are major contributors to various CSR activities benefitting 46 million persons from underprivileged communities.