OICCI stresses need for digital revolution in Pakistan

  • Chamber recommends urgency for creating a tech-friendly ecosystem to encourage digital entrepreneurship among youth 

ISLAMABAD: The Overseas Investors Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OICCI) on Thursday unveiled its ‘Recommendations on National Programme for Digital Transformation’ report at a media launch in Islamabad.

The OICCI members, who are among the top 200 foreign investors belonging to 35 countries, including 50 Fortune 500 companies, have shared their international experience and expertise in presenting a concise analysis of the current digital landscape and recommended a forward-looking specific action plan to fast-track Pakistan to a respectable level of digital transformation. The report has already been presented to Prime Minister Imran Khan during a meeting on December 9.

Commenting on digital transformation, OICCI President Irfan Wahab Khan said, “The advancements in digital technology are inspiring innovation globally. Being among the fastest growing mobile markets in the world, Pakistan has immense potential to become a global leader in digital innovation.

“Presently, many businesses and individuals are creating applications and solutions that are helping accelerate economic growth. If an enabling environment is created through the implementation of the policy recommendations provided in this report, we believe the economic and social impact will be unparalleled.”

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The OICCI president believed that the chamber’s recommendations have the potential to significantly uplift the socioeconomic well-being of the citizens and generate more than 5 million direct and indirect job opportunities in the country, while at the same time increasing the GDP by $40-$50 billion annually by 2025.

The OICCI report recommends the urgency for creating a digital-friendly ecosystem to empower and enable digital entrepreneurship among the youth of Pakistan who are equipped with a digital skillset.

The countries that have embraced digital revolution have taken serious actions to integrate innovative technologies at all levels of society, the report stated, adding that through such revolution, the economy enjoys higher productivity, accelerated growth and enhanced quality of life for their citizens compared to other countries.

The OICCI report provided various living examples of digitization contributing towards the socio-economic development, much to the benefit of the larger population in many countries, particularly in Europe and Asia.

“The timing of our recommendations is motivated by the belief that Pakistan is on the radar of all leading foreign investors. Fast adoption of digital services will help build knowledge economy and is critical for the expected growth strategy for Pakistan,” said Irfan Wahab Khan.

He urged the authorities and other stakeholders interested in taking Pakistan to the next level of development to seriously engage with the relevant stakeholders and fast-track the implementation of the proposed digital growth plan needed for “Naya Pakistan”.

The OICCI report presented recommendations covering 12 different areas, including implementation of telemedicine in public sector health units, introduction of distant learning (e-education) to public sector educational institutes, digital skills to the workforce, improvement in financial inclusion for people at the bottom of the pyramid, digitalization of agriculture sector, digital entrepreneurship, extension in the reach of broadband services, transformation of public services through ‘digital government’, deployment of public cloud and introduction of open data, adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) for sustainable development, implementation of a comprehensive national cybersecurity policy by adopting a risk-based approach and establishment of a national center for development of blockchain technologies.

The OICCI president in conclusion mentioned that the proposed digital plan recommendations aim to gradually transform the digital landscape of Pakistan by reducing socioeconomic inequalities, help create an ecosystem for use of technology in all segments of the economy, including agriculture, and more importantly encourage a move towards a smart government by benefiting from cloud as an enabler to digital government.

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