Karachi (Muhammad Yasir) The “OICCI Recommendations for Digital Economy” report was launched on January 18th, 2021 highlighting the much-needed shift required to capture the opportunity of Digital transformation happening within and outside Pakistan through New Economy mindset. By digitizing most, if not all, key segments of the economy could boost IT export to US$ 10 B annually, provide significant growth to GDP, attract Billions of Dollars of FDI and create hundreds of thousands new jobs within a short time. Overseas Investors Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OICCI) membership includes some of the best-known IT MNCs, including IBM, SAP, Teradata, who also actively contributed towards the development of these 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 on 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 New Economy that is growing much faster and attracting capital globally.
Highlighting the potential for the IT export, OICCI President Haroon Rashid commented that “whereas IT exports from Pakistan is only US$ 1 to 2 B, Philippines, with half the population of Pakistan exports IT services of about $ 30 B, India IT exports are over $ 190 B 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, make a significant positive impact on GDP growth and also connects Pakistan to global ecommerce and creative economy opportunity.
OICCI has appreciated the Special Technology Zones recently inaugurated by the PM, which hopefully will benefit the country in medium to longer term. However, for immediate gains, OICCI has recommended the need to establish a digital mechanism to provide Ease of Doing Business coverage in Public Private Partnership to bring 5-10 Million Sq Ft space quickly in utilization through Virtual Authority.
The OICCI report highlights the FDI potential by creating enabling environment for investment in Platform and High-Tech ecosystem so that Pakistan is able to attract global IT platform players and Venture Capital funding to accelerate innovation. The OICCI 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 massively improve the quality and stability of connectivity by pushing fiberization drive in the country, accelerated focus on Digital Financial Services by removing existing friction, 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 highly improved security environment, duly recognized by independent sources, and very attractive operating cost, in terms of hard currencies, following massive devaluation of the PKR, OICCI once again emphasized the need for sustained and structured efforts for improving the global image of Pakistan as an attractive destination for FDI, including for large international technology players.