Islamabad: President Arif Alvi encouraged the Pakistani youth to learn digital skills saying that the technology sector can prove to be “the shortest path to development” for the country.
The president was addressing participants of the three-day (May 13-15) Future Fest 2022 — the country’s largest tech conference held in Islamabad — which brought together Pakistan’s top tech start-ups, entrepreneurs, investors, innovators, and professionals. More than 30,000 visitors are expected to attend the tech event where more than 100 exhibitors are presenting their products and services.
In his speech, Dr Alvi focused on enabling digital growth by offering youth the education and digital skills needed for current and future jobs. “Technology has revolutionised all sectors and it has the ability to bring exponential change,” he said while citing the example of Estonia, a small country seen as a benchmark for tech transformation of national economies.
Dr Alvi also shared that the government of Pakistan’s ‘Digiskills Training’ programme was the first and the largest national project that has trained 2.2 million youth free of cost in digital skills required to transform youth into successful freelancers and entrepreneurs. Pakistan is ranked the fourth-largest freelancer market globally.
He also highlighted the role of artificial intelligence, saying that AI is swiftly becoming a new horizontal for the global tech industry. He called on the youth to adjust their career paths according to the requirements of the 4th industrial revolution which Dr Alvi said will transform virtually every industry.
The president also called for interventions such as accelerated degrees to prepare youth for tech-related jobs and to prevent Pakistan’s youth bulge from turning into a youth burden.
He said the government should facilitate youngsters by removing roadblocks and bottlenecks and offering them new incentives. He praised the efforts of the Special Technology Zones Authority (STZA) as well as other public, private, and tech communities in broadening the digital transformation. He also called on the Pakistani business community to invest in the special technology zones being developed across the country under STZA’s national roll-out plan.
Speaking at the tech event, STZA chairman Amer Hashmi informed the audience that the tech and start-up ecosystem is thriving in Pakistan, ta country of 220 million with over 60 per cent youth.
He further stated that through venture capital funding, Pakistani start-ups have raised approximately $170 million in the first quarter of 2022 and around $375 million in 2021.
It reflects rapidly growing investor confidence in Pakistan’s tech sector and with the special technology zones coming up in the country’s tech landscape, the foreign direct investment will increase, Hashmi said.