Dilawar Syed, the US’s Special Representative for Commercial and Business Affairs, emphasised the US government’s commitment to strengthening economic and commercial ties with Pakistan on Thursday. In an effort to build on the 75 years of economic cooperation between the US and Pakistan, Syed stated that the US “will keep working to broaden bilateral trade, boost investment, and expand entrepreneurial and educational opportunities for all.” Syed was speaking at a panel discussion on “Promoting US-Pakistan Innovation and Investment” at the National Incubation Centre (NICK), Karachi, at the NED University of Engineering and Technology.
Minister for Information Technology Syed Amin-ul- Haq also participated in the discussion. Dr Syed Akbar Zaidi, executive director of the Institute of Business Administration, and Atif Rais Khan, founder and CEO of technology company LMKT, were the co-speakers in the discussion.
Syed said the US investors are attracted to the Pakistani market because of its large, young population and its entrepreneurial spirit. Appreciating Pakistani women entrepreneurs who have successfully established their own businesses, Syed said that the US supports empowering Pakistani women and girls. He stressed on the importance of nurturing sustainable and inclusive economic growth for Pakistan’s long-term prosperity and suggested that “boosting digital and financial literacy for women and marginalised groups, for example, will help ensure Pakistan can realise its entrepreneurial potential.”
The US special representative and the IT minister also got together to talk about ways they could work together to improve Pakistan’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. After the meeting, they took a tour of the facility with NICK representatives and spoke with Pakistani business owners.
According to him, the National Incubation Centers were crucial in fostering entrepreneurship and the country now has over 1,000 startups, which has led to the creation of hundreds of new jobs. He also stated that the financial volume of startups had impressively increased five times (500%) to $373 million from $75 million in FY2019–20.
According to Minister Syed Amin-ul-Haq, Pakistan is aiming high and wants to export $15 billion worth of IT over the next three years. Pakistan’s IT exports totaled $2.6 billion in 2021–2022; the aim for FY202–202 was $3 billion, and the IT ministry was completely committed to increasing that amount to $15 billion over the course of a three-year plan.
According to Amin-ul-Haq, the IT ministry has taken numerous steps to promote the sector in line with the vision of a “Digital Pakistan,” which has led to an increase in the number of people in Pakistan with access to mobile phones and the internet, from 160 million in FY2018–19 to 193 million today.
The government intends to roll out 5G in Pakistan this year by maintaining a consistent monthly increase in broadband coverage and the adoption of 4G technology, according to Aminul Haq. The federal IT minister stated that after the digitalization of all federal ministries and paperless cabinet sessions, the goal of a paperless parliament until next March is currently being worked on.
The IT minister stated that there are currently 36% female employees at NICs, and that number will increase to 50% in the upcoming year as she emphasised the value of gender inclusivity in national growth.