LAHORE, Pakistan: Terming the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Sector as the “game changer” for Pakistan’s economy, President Dr. Arif Alvi has urged the need to bring a paradigm shift in our ideas and attitudes and improve our intellectual and innovation abilities, accelerate the speed manifold for making fully solid policies which should not be rolled back by the change in government, and put our administrative and political capital for their time bound implementation by shunting out lethargy, status quo and inertia, and find out of the box solutions to the existing and emerging issues and challenges and fully capitalize on opportunities.
While addressing the launching ceremony of Web 3.0 at Punjab Information Technology Board in Lahore on Friday, the president said that with right steps taken we can earn US$ 15 billion per year in the IT Sector in two to three years’ time period.
The event was attended by the Minister Finance Punjab Muhammad Mohsin Khan Leghari, the Special Advisor to Chief Minister on Information Technology Dr. Arslan Khalid, the Chairman Punjab Information Technology Board (PITB) Syed Bilal Haider, the Vice Chancellor of Information Technology University (ITU) Lahore Dr. Sarfraz Khurshid, IT professionals, entrepreneurs, and media persons attended the event.
In his address at the ceremony, the president said that there was a pressing need for our political, administrative, and intellectual capital to fully focus to bring in Artificial Intelligence powered work processes in public and private sector coupled with adopting a much faster pace than the current level, technologies such as blockchain, cloud computing, internet of things, cyber security and cyber defence, virtual and augmented reality and quantum computing to bring delivery of services and quality of products and services at par with international level. He said that the world was entering into next level of defense system which was cyber security and cyber defense.
The president said that currently Russia Ukraine war had amply demonstrated the power of Cyber security and cyber defense to paralyze the public services delivery and communication and connectivity of the rival’s territory.
President Arif Alvi added that unfortunately in a report published on international ranking on August 22 cyber security Pakistan was not mentioned at all. He said that in terms of generating new and creative ideas, Pakistan was second to none but the need of the hour was information and data sources.
Dr. Arif Alvi said the current level of human resource and technology was unable to handle the immense data being generated around the world. He said around 80 million trained human resource is required only in the cyber field if we are able to train our human resource in this sector alone, we can overcome the unemployment in the country and provide high paying jobs to our youth.
This can be achieved by rethinking and resetting our entire education system in a mode which is capable of providing high quality education and skills in shortest possible time period to our youth by the use of online and hybrid mode and by extending its reach to the masses in such a manner that no candidate is refused or denied his right to get education and skills, he added.
The president said that the entire world is looking towards Pakistan because of our youth bulge, they need trained and skilled youth and young blood to fuel the rapidly developing world of Information Technology powered by Artificial Intelligence and quantum computers to leapfrog in the fourth industrial revolution to the next level.
The president said that if we failed to develop this precious human resource in an accelerated manner there is a fear that this untrained youth bulge will become a burden on national economy.
President Arif Alvi said that we have been producing doctors, engineers and other professional by spending scarce national resources but unfortunately these highly educated and quality human resource was exported to other countries where they contributed immensely in growth and development of their host country and the same time deprived our country of this precious human resource resulting into acute shortage in almost all sector of national life.
This trend, he said, need to be reversed by creating enabling conditions in the country for their willing retention by promoting online sale and marketing of the talent of our human resource and products and services which, he said, will eventually improve current status of our standing in the comity of the nations.
The president said that the Prime Minister’s Digital Skills Development Program and such programs could be replicated as fast as possible to exponentially increase the number of skilled professionals and imparting digital skills to Pakistani youth. He said that there was a pressing urgency to fully develop our ICT sector and multiply our IT exports by overcoming the dearth of educated and trained human resources, improving the overall ease of doing business and the IT ecosystem of the country, embracing innovation, and adopting forward looking policies. He said the world was fast moving toward quantum computing which were million times faster than our existing most advance super computer.
The president said that we should setup a board by roping in diaspora to create a system to take up research and developing in quantum computing and forging alliances and linkages with the R&D institutions for its adopting on fast-track basis.
Dr. Arif Alvi said that IT and AI can bring revolution in our health sector by creating chat bots, online and web-based help services, using conventional and social media to educate the masses regarding nature and wherewithal of communicable and non-communication diseases and promoting preventive mode of treatment to reduce the disease burden as Pakistan with its scarce resources is not in a position to provide curative treatment to its entire population.
The president called for improving cooperation and coordination among the Federation and its constituent units to patronize and promote start-up ecosystem, bringing women workforce and Differently Abled persons into productive economic stream to fully exploit the enormous business opportunities in national, regional and global markets through physical and online marketing.
President Arif Alvi further stated that almost 2.2 million people had already benefited from the Prime Minister’s Digital Skills Development Program and such programs could be replicated and expanded easily to increase the number of skilled professionals and imparting digital skills to Pakistani youth.
While addressing the occasion, Dr. Arslan Khalid said that Pakistan could overcome its financial problems by focusing on human resource development and IT sector.
Dr. Arslan Khalid further said that a reference policy document was being prepared to provide a roadmap for the development of the IT sector, particularly in the Web 3.0 domain.
The Chairman PITB Syed Bilal Haider briefed the participants about the achievements of PITB, and its role in the development of the country’s IT sector.
Syed Bilal Haider said that almost 500 startups had already started functioning. He informed that Rs 137 billion had been collected in lieu of various taxes in Punjab through the digitalization of various services.
The Chairman PITB further informed that Punjab had planned to undertake Rs 450 billion worth of procurements annually through the e-procurement system in the future.
Earlier, President Arif Alvi distributed shields and certificates among companies and IT professionals who had performed exceptionally well in the field of Web 3.0 technology in Pakistan.