Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Digitization in Pakistan: Dr. Nadeemul Haq Interviews Riaz Haq (Urdu)

Eminent Pakistani economist Dr. Nadeemul Haq (no relation to Riaz Haq) interviewed Riaz Haq last week for his podcast "Soch Bichar" to talk about the subject of "Digitization in Pakistan" in Urdu. Here is a summary of the interview:


Dr. Nadeemul Haq: How do you define "digitization"?

 Riaz Haq: To me, digitization on a national scale is pervasive use of digital technologies in all aspects of life: business, trade, industry, media, finance, government, education, sports, entertainment, military, etc etc.

NH: What is happening in Pakistan on digitization?

RH: Jahangir Tareen, a close aide to Prime Minister Imran Khan, has recently announced the hiring of a woman of Pakistani origin who is currently working for Google in Singapore. He said she will lead the digitization effort in Pakistan from the Prime Minister's office.

NH: Is digitization possible in Pakistan?

RH: Yes, it is possible. Digitization requires digital infrastructure and human capital. Pakistan is making progress on both of these. You could argue that it is not happening fast enough but both are happening.

A lot of fiber is being laid and Zong has recently completed 5G trials. There are about 70 million subscriptions to mobile broadband. Number of smartphones being sold is rising with 1 million to 2 million being sold each month.  About 30,000 to 40,000 young people with IT skillsets are graduating from various educational institutions.

NH: What can the government do to help increase digitization?

RH: The government's job is in the policy areas to facilitate it. For example, the government bureaucracy needs to ensure that the required licenses for 5G are issued in a timely manner to make it widely available. The government needs to provide various incentives to promote investment in digital fiber and data centers, etc etc. The government also needs to invest in development of human capital and skillsets needed for digitization.

NH: How can Pakistan promote digital entrepreneurship? Startups?

RH: Pakistan needs to help develop an ecosystem for startups:  Legal framework, Incubators, venture capital, etc etc.

NH: Pakistan already has several incubators. What do you think about them?

RH:  Pakistan can learn from Silicon Valley incubators like ycombinator.  Silicon Valley incubators are created and managed by successful entrepreneurs and startup investors. Pakistan does have a few successful entrepreneurs and investors like Monis Rehman (rozee.pk), Zia Chishti (afiniti.com), Musaddir Sheikha (Careem)  and Asad Jamal (ePlanet). Incubators headed by them would be more successful.

NH: What would  be your advice to youngsters wanting to do startups in Pakistan?

RH: Pakistan has the world's 4th largest number of tech freelancers. Some of these freelancers have the potential to start up companies if they can get some good coaching by successful entrepreneurs and have access to venture capital. These youngsters can also grow their freelance business and use the proceeds to bootstrap into successful tech companies.

NH: Please explain for our listeners what is bootstrapping?

RH: Bootstrapping is the use of your own internally generated capital to grow a company. The most successful example of bootstrapping is Microsoft. Bill Gates and Paul Allan had developed a rudimentary BASIC interpreter with their own resources when IBM approached them and asked to purchase their "operating system". Bill and Paul didn't have an "operating system". So they bought one from Gary Kildall of Santa Cruz and sold it to IBM for its PCs. The rest is history.

NH: Will digitization in Pakistan hurt employment? 

RH: Yes, that is a very valid concern. I remember when there was a Blockbuster video rental store at almost every corner in major American cities and towns. Netflix wiped them out and the franchisees and employees of the these stores lost their businesses and jobs. Similarly, Uber rid-hailing service has hurt established taxi companies and taxi drivers. However, companies like Careem, Lyft and Uber  have opened up the possibility for anyone with a car to become taxi drivers on part-time and full-time basis. It's spawned "Gig Economy".

Here's the link to the podcast:

https://nhaquepod.podbean.com/e/digitization-and-startups/

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

South Asia Investor Review

Public Sector IT Projects in Pakistan

Pakistan's Gig Economy 4th Largest in the World

Afiniti and Careem: Tech Unicorns Made in Pakistan

Pakistani American Heads Silicon Valley's Top Incubator

Silicon Valley Pakistani-Americans

Digital BRI and 5G in Pakistan

Pakistan's Demographic Dividend

Pakistan EdTech and FinTech Startups

State Bank Targets Fully Digital Economy in Pakistan

Campaign of Fear Against CPEC

Fintech Revolution in Pakistan

E-Commerce in Pakistan

The Other 99% of the Pakistan Story

FMCG Boom in Pakistan

Belt Road Forum 2019

Fiber Network Growth in Pakistan

Riaz Haq's Youtube Channel


5 comments:

Riaz Haq said...

#Singapore’s Patamar Capital to Invest $10 Million in #Pakistan. It has joined SEED to identify potential #technology #startup #investment opportunities in #fintech, #ecommerce, #health, #agriculture, #education sectors in the country. https://propakistani.pk/2019/09/25/singaporean-company-to-invest-10-million-in-pakistan/

This collaboration will create opportunities for growth and development for social enterprises operating within the STEM, financial Services, e-commerce, health care, agriculture, career and education sectors in Pakistan.

Considering both organizations hold women empowerment as a priority area in their investments, this collaboration is good news for women-led enterprises and enterprises producing products and services that benefit women, the statement said.

Nathan Sivagananathan, the Partner at Patamar Capital leading its South Asia strategy shared his views,

These are exciting times in Pakistan. We are excited to partner with SEED who have the best interest of the country and its people at heart, that will help Patamar identify the potential in the country.

Beau Seil, Co-Founder, and Partner of Patamar Capital said,

We are excited about the opportunities to support entrepreneurs building the companies of the future in Pakistan.

Patamar Capital (“Patamar”) is a venture capital firm that targets risk commensurate returns for its investors, while also seeking to unlock better economic opportunities for South and Southeast Asia’s low-income communities. It is currently invested in a portfolio of early-stage companies across South Asia and South-East Asia out of multiple funds.

Imran Q. said...

Thanks for a very informative post. In US corporate circles the word used for digitization is Digital Transformation.

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan FBR Chief Zaidi: "The #trade deficit has been reduced by 35% and #fiscal #deficit by 36% in the first quarter of this year." Target for non-tax revenue for the current year was Rs 1,200 billion, but expect to collect Rs 1,600 billion #tax #budget https://www.moneycontrol.com/news/world/marked-decrease-in-pakistans-trade-and-fiscal-deficits-finance-advisor-4527911.html

Advisor to Pakistan prime minster on Finance Abdul Hafeez Sheikh on October 12 said the country's economic health was improving with the government tackling the twin problems of fiscal and trade deficits.

Speaking to media persons here along with Chairman of Federal Bureau of Revenue Shabbar Zaidi, Sheikh said, "The trade deficit has been reduced by 35 percent and fiscal deficit by 36 percent in the first quarter of this year."



Sheikh said there was a marked improvement in non-tax revenue collection in comparison to the previous fiscal.

"We have collected Rs 406 billion in non-tax revenue, a 140 percent increase over the previous year," he said.

The advisor said the Pakistani rupee had stabilised and net portfolio investment had increased by $340 million after three years.

He said the good health of the portfolio investments was visible in the stock market rising from 28,000 points level in August to 34,000 points recently.

Sheikh said exports were also picking up due to government assistance.

Responding to a question, FBR Chairman Zaidi said dialogue with the trading community was progressing positively and soon all issues of traders would be resolved.

Zaidi said the UAE government has agreed to provide details of properties owned by Pakistanis there, which is expected to help net black money.

Pakistan's economy was in bad shape when the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government came to power in August 2018.

Riaz Haq said...

GSMA Report Highlights That #Mobile #Broadband Networks Now Cover 80% of #Pakistan, Representing a Great Opportunity To Deliver Life-Enhancing Services https://finance.yahoo.com/news/gsma-pakistan-government-together-harness-100000712.html?soc_src=social-sh&soc_trk=tw via @YahooFinance

Report Findings

Mobile technology is at the heart of digital transformation in Pakistan driving social development and economic growth. Digital transformation is underway in the country, with government and public institutions as well as private and development organisations using digital platforms to increase engagement and improve service delivery to its citizens.

Mobile broadband networks now cover 80 per cent of the population and 97 per cent of internet connections are mobile;
Pakistan has nearly 700,000 cellular IoT connections across areas including agriculture, clean energy and safe water solutions;
Mobile technology is the primary channel for digital financial services, digital birth registration initiatives, digital health solutions and digital learning;
The mobile ecosystem in Pakistan plays an increasingly important role in economic growth, contributing around $16.7 billion, equivalent to 5.4 per cent of GDP; and
Mobile operators and the ecosystem also provided direct employment to around 320,000 people in Pakistan in 2018.
Enablement of digital ecosystem is largely supported by timely policy interventions for the facilitation and enablement of the industry and most importantly the end-user.
Despite this progress, Pakistan still has much to do to realise its development aspirations as outlined in the country’s Digital Transformation initiative. The bulging youth in the country is the catalysing factor in the early realization of digital ecosystem, which is helping Pakistan in swiftly catching up with its neighbours in South Asia and countries in the Asia Pacific on several key human development indicators including education, health and gender equality. Meanwhile, rapid population growth, at nearly double the average for South Asia, could increase the pressure on existing infrastructure and services, undermining efforts to enhance social development.

Industry and Government Collaboration

Three key priorities were identified for stakeholders to enhance the impact of mobile-enabled digital transformation on Pakistan’s development aspirations:

Enhance digital and financial inclusion: Like all other developing countries and economies, Pakistan’s population is still in transition and the use mobile internet or have access to formal financial services is growing with a remarkable progress witnessed in the past few years, however, if timely actions are not taken for harnessing the benefits of digitalization and taking the opportunity to the grassroots, it may put the country at risk of missing out on the socioeconomic benefits of digital transformation. The exclusion gap cuts across gender, geographic, economic and literacy lines. For example, women are 37 per cent less likely than men to own a mobile phone.

The government, industry, tech companies and development partners are closely working to address the challenges related to connectivity, integration and modernization of telecommunication networks and services, leading to digital transformation and financial inclusion in the country.
A holistic approach to digitisation: The fragmented use of digital services by government agencies and development organisations, often leads to wastage and inefficiency in the use of resources. A whole-of-government approach to the planning and implementation of digital initiatives could increase the overall impact on society.
Use mobile platforms for national development plans: Pakistan's 12th Five-Year Development Plan runs from 2019 to 2024. There is a significant opportunity to incorporate mobile, particularly on efforts to improve areas such as gender equality, health, education and poverty reduction.

Riaz Haq said...

Former Google Executive Tania Aidrus arrived in Pakistan to head digital Pakistan initiative

https://thewomenjournal.com/2019/12/former-google-executive-tania-aidrus-arrived-in-pakistan-to-head-digital-pakistan-initiative/

Tania Aidrus, a former google chief of staff and head of the strategitic initiatives at NBU, has returned to Pakistan after quitting her job several months earlier to serve Pakistan digital transformation initiative.

Before being a google executive she co-founded ClickDiagnostics, it is a mobile health diagnostic company that connected rural patients with doctors around the world. In the U.S she served as a leader in the Global Business Organization at Google and now recently in Singapore, she served as a Country Manager for South Asian Frontier markets at Google.

Tania has spent half of her life abroad and now after 20 years, she has finally returned to Pakistan after quitted her job as a Google executive. Tania quitted her job a few months earlier so that she can head Pakistan Digital initiative and lead the country into a digital age.

Today at the inauguration of Digital Pakistan at Islamabad, Tania shared her plans to lead the country’s digital transformation. She said She wants to put Pakistan on the map as far as technology and innovation was concerned.

Through this program, the paperless environments will be enforced in government departments and communication will take place through digital channels instead of papers.

During her speech at the inauguration, Tania recalled how she was contacted by PM Imran khan’s team to head the project. She told that she was introduced to the prime minister by a person she knew and after that PM forwarded an email to his reform team to contact her.

She further continued that over the course of the next few months she was in contact with Ms. Jahangir Tareen and members of the cabinet and even met the president before she Met Prime minister and discussed the project with him.

“I spent 20 years outside Pakistan,” she said. “I went abroad with a very strong message about Pakistan. People say that I am politically connected to some people. That is not the case, I don’t have a relationship with anyone in the government. My objective is simple–I just want Pakistan to succeed,” she said in her speech.

Tania said that the first and foremost important key pillar the government needs to build is access and connectivity pillar, she then quoted that A soldier from Siachen gets one opportunity a week to talk to his family members and she wanted to ensure that whenever that soldier connects with his family through video calling he can do so without any issues and disruption.

The other important key areas needed by the government of Pakistan she talked about were Digital infrastructure, E-governance, Digitisation process, and Innovation and Entrepreneurship.