President Alvi terms IT sector game-changer for country’s economy

LAHORE (APP): President Dr Arif Alvi has said that the Information and Communications Technology sector is a game-changer for the national economy.
He stressed the need to bring about a paradigm shift in ideas, attitudes besides improving intellectual and innovation abilities among the youth.
Addressing the launching ceremony of Web 3.0 here at the Punjab Information Technology Board here on Friday, he said that there was a need to accelerate speed manifold for making solid policies. He said such policies should not be rolled back by any change in government. He stressed finding out-of-the-box solutions to the existing and emerging issues and challenges.
He said: “We can earn US$15 billion per year in the IT sector in two to three years”.
The president said: “There is a pressing need for our political, administrative and intellectual capital to fully focus on artificial intelligence in public and private sectors while adopting a much faster pace than the current one, technologies such as block chain, 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 the international standards.”
He said that the world was entering into the next level of defence system, which was cyber security and cyber defence, adding that currently Russia-Ukraine war had amply demonstrated the power of cyber security and cyber defence to paralyse the public services delivery and communication and connectivity of the rivals territory.
He said 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 resources and technology was unable to handle the immense data being generated around the world, adding that “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 issue in the country and provide high paying jobs to our youth”.
He said: “This can be achieved by rethinking and resetting our entire education system in a mode, which is capable of providing quality education and skills in shortest possible time to our youth by the use of online and hybrid mode and by extending its reach to masses in such a manner that no candidate was refused or denied his right to get education and skills.”
The president said that the entire world was looking towards Pakistan because of our youth bulge; trained and skilled youth was needed to fuel the rapidly developing world of Information Technology, empowered by artificial intelligence and quantum computers to leapfrog in the fourth industrial revolution to the next level.
He said, “If we failed to develop this precious human resource in an accelerated manner, it is feared that the untrained youth bulge will become a burden on the national economy.”
The president said: “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 to growth and development of their host countries and at the same time deprived our country of this precious human resource resulting in an acute shortage in almost all sector of national life”.
He said this trend needed 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 would eventually improve current status of our standing in the comity of the nations.
Dr Alvi said that Prime Minister’s digital skills development programme and such programmes could be replicated as fast as possible to exponentially increase the number of skilled professionals and imparting digital skills to the youth.
He said: “There is 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 eco-system of the country, embracing innovation, and adopting forward looking policies”.
The world was fast moving toward quantum computing which were million times faster than our existing most advance super computers, he added.
He said, “We should set up a board to create a system to take up research and develop quantum computing and forging alliances and linkages with the R&D institutions for its adopting on fast-track basis.”
He said that the IT and artificial intelligence could bring about revolution in the health sector by creating chat bots, online and web based-help services, using conventional and social media to educate masses regarding nature and spread of communicable and non-communication diseases and promoting preventive mode of treatment to reduce the disease burden as Pakistan, with its scarce resources, was 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 patronise 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.
He said that almost 2.2 million people had already benefited from the Prime Minister’s digital skills development programme and such programmes could be replicated and expanded easily to increase the number of skilled professionals and imparting digital skills to Pakistani youth.
Special Advisor to CM on Information Technology Dr Arslan Khalid said that Pakistan could overcome its financial problems by focusing on human resource development and IT sector. He 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.
Chairman PITB Syed Bilal Haider briefed the participants about the achievements of the PITB, and its role in the development of the country’s IT sector. He 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. He said that Punjab had planned to undertake Rs 450 billion worth of procurements annually through the e-procurement system in the future.
Earlier, the president distributed shields and certificates among companies and the IT professionals who had performed exceptionally well in the field of Web 3.0 technology in Pakistan.
Punjab Finance Minister Muhammad Mohsin Khan Leghari, Information Technology University, Lahore Vice Chancellor Dr Sarfraz Khurshid, IT professionals and entrepreneurs attended the event.