Minister advocates for IT sector growth with public-private collaboration

Minister of State for Information Technology and Communications Shaza Fatima Khawaja has reiterated the government’s dedication to enhancing the IT industry by endorsing and aiding the private sector.

Addressing the participants at the Global Digital Summit during the 24th ICTN Asia Conference at the Expo Centre on Friday, she lauded the collective zeal for technology and its role in transforming economies and societies. She underscored the value of such summits in fostering collaboration and exchanging knowledge among stakeholders from both public and private sectors.

She emphasised the government’s efforts, under Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s vision, to review policies and legislation to better support the private sector’s growth and innovation. The minister stressed creation of a conducive environment in Pakistan for the private sector, focusing on business culture, technology, and the ecosystem.

The minister pointed out cybersecurity and the skills gap as major challenges, but also as opportunities, especially in leveraging Pakistan’s young population for national development. She highlighted the need to modernise education systems to address immediate lack of skilled labour and employable graduates.

She referenced the industry-academia bridge programme that facilitates on-job training for university students, ensuring their employability upon graduation. She also called for a quicker adaptation of university curricula to keep up with the fast-paced industry changes.

The minister outlined the complexities universities face with industry advancements and the importance of international exposure for Pakistan. She announced plans for a National Digitization Plan, focusing on governance, economy, and society, which will incorporate modern concepts like the Pakistan stack to streamline services for individuals.

Shaza Khawaja emphasised the government’s commitment to engaging with citizens and inviting collaboration for the success of digitization initiative. She discussed the importance of public-private partnerships, ongoing policy developments in data protection and cybersecurity, and the need for an environment conducive to international business.

The minister expressed aspirations for G-20 participation and called for efforts to expand the economic pie. She encouraged the private sector to prepare for upcoming opportunities and emphasised the government’s role in supporting the IT industry through incentives and investments, like venture capital funds.

Concluding her address, Shaza Khawaja urged the industry leaders to prioritise both hard and soft skills and to take bold steps in developing alternatives to global technologies. She replied to the media questions, stating that while internet shutdowns were not encouraged, they were sometimes necessary for security reasons. She concluded by presenting achievement awards to top achievers in the IT sector. 

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