ISLAMABAD - President Arif Alvi said that Pakistan may have lost time, but it is not too late to jump on to the technology bandwagon. “Why did we need COVID19 to adapt tools that have been around for years?” He emphasised that we can’t lose our youth to foreign countries. “We want to equip them to work and earn in Pakistan.” He noted that many chronic structural issues are being steadily addressed, and that he is personally engaging with industry and entrepreneurs to solve problems.
President Arif Alvi was speaking on the occasion of the launch of think tank and advisory firm Tabadlab’s working paper ‘Energising the Tech Investment Ecosystem in Pakistan. Chairperson Special Technology Zones Authority (STZA) Amer Hashmi also spoke at the event, urging policy makers and industry leaders to read the paper and implement its recommendations. “It is fortunate that the STZA bill has been passed by the Senate and has been sent to the president to sign into an act of parliament.”
Hashmi spoke about the boom in investment in Pakistani tech startups, noting how the establishment of special technology zones with tax and regulatory incentives will attract and keep venture capitalists in Pakistan. Founder of CIRCLE and an advocate for financial inclusion and women’s empowerment Sadaffe Abid said in her remarks that the government needs to focus on drawing more women into the tech sector. “There are less than 20% women in tech in Pakistan. Unless the country invests in its women, we will not progress.”
In his opening remarks, CEO Tabadlab, Mosharraf Zaidi highlighted the dynamism in startup funding despite the developing situation in Afghanistan, the devaluation of the rupee and rising current account deficit. “Despite the challenges, start-ups are bringing in foreign investment, that’s because one of the big drivers of this country is young people and their energy is charging the tech sector.”
‘Energising the Tech Ecosystem in Pakistan’ offers deep insights into how technology can turbo-charge Pakistan’s socio-economic transformation. Co- authored by Aliza Amin, Hammad Haider, Ali Khizar and Umar Nadeem, the paper has been published by Tabadlab’s Centre for Digital Transformation. “The fiscal and monetary pressures on the economy will be addressed through increased exports and higher FDI, both of which will be increasingly informed by the technology ecosystem.”