KARACHI: The “OICCI Recommendations for Digital Economy” report was launched on January 18th, 2021, highlighting the shift required to capture digital transformation, happening both inside and outside Pakistan through a new economy mindset.
By digitizing most, if not all, key segments of the economy, IT exports could be boosted to $10 billion annually. Moreover, it could provide significant growth to Gross Domestic Product (GDP), attract billions of dollars of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and create hundreds of thousands new jobs within a short period of time.
Overseas Investors Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OICCI) membership includes some of the best-known IT multinational corporations (MNC)’s, including IBM, SAP, Teradata. These companies also actively contributed towards the development of digital economy recommendations and offered to run one integrated technology training program for up to half a million certified resources in Pakistan, using global courses successfully being run in many advanced countries.
These are online industry focused programs, where the government needs to invest only in tracking, adoption and placement through one program office located in the Ministry of IT. OICCI Digital Recommendations highlight the importance of shift to skill development from academic degrees to ensure productive and effective participation of Pakistani talent in the new economy that is growing fast and attracting capital globally.
Highlighting potential IT exports, OICCI President Haroon Rashid said, “Whereas IT exports from Pakistan are only $1 to $2 billion, Philippines, with half the population of Pakistan, exports IT services of about $30 billion, while India’s IT exports are over $190 billion and many other Asian countries are also well ahead of Pakistan, which should be a cause of great concern to the authorities but at the same time could be a motivational factor as Pakistan has great potential to boost its IT exports with focused short and medium term strategy and its delivery by the key stakeholders, as recommended in the OICCI Recommendations for Digital Economy report.”
The OICCI report further highlights the importance of stable and inclusive regulatory practices to ensure effective participation of global players in platform economy to attract FDI and to make a significant positive impact on GDP growth while also connecting Pakistan to global ecommerce and creative economy opportunities.
OICCI has appreciated Special Technology Zones recently inaugurated by Prime Minister Imran Khan, which hopefully will benefit the country in the medium to longer term. However, for immediate gains, OICCI has recommended the need to establish a digital mechanism to provide ease in business coverage in public private partnerships to bring 5-10 million square feet space quickly in utilization through virtual authority.
The OICCI report highlights FDI’s potential for creating an encouraging environment for investment in platform and high-tech ecosystems to enable Pakistan to attract global IT platform players and venture capital funding to accelerate innovation.
OICCI’s digital recommendations cover six key areas i) Connectivity, ii) Digital Financial System, iii) Export Growth and Digital Skills, iv) Platforms & E-commerce Ecosystem, v) Innovation & Regulatory Environment, and vi) Digital Governance and Citizen Services.
Other recommendations include the need to significantly improve the quality and stability of connectivity by pushing a fiberization drive in the country, an accelerated focus on digital financial services by removing existing friction and enabling the country to be integrated with global chains and improved citizen and business services, through digital governance, which can help significantly in terms of service efficiency and image of the country.
With a highly improved security environment, duly recognized by independent sources, and a very attractive operating cost, in terms of hard currencies, following massive devaluation of the Pak rupee, the OICCI has once again emphasized the need for sustained and structured efforts for improving the global image of Pakistan as an attractive destination for FDI.