Digitisation to add $60bn to Pakistan’s economy: OICCI

By Staff Reporter | The News Feb 21, 2023

KARACHI: Digitisation offers employment prospects to young Pakistanis and could add $60 billion to the economy within the next 7 to 8 years, Overseas Investors Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s (OICCI) report said.

The Digital Report 2022 titled, “Recommendations for Digital Transformation in Pakistan” said that prospects for 23 percent of Pakistan’s population that falls in 20-34 years age group, would benefit from digitisation in the country. The report was presented by OICCI managing committee to the President of Pakistan, with an objective to set the country on its digital journey.

The report covers suggestions on e-commerce, fintech, IT exports and web 3.0 technologies etc. The president showed his concern on the decline in business confidence influenced by the highly challenging political and economic situation during the past six months. He also appreciated OICCI for taking the lead in presenting recommendations to digitise the economy.

This report offers key recommendations to the policymakers on the various facets of the digital transformation of the economy, including suggestions for digital infrastructure and connectivity, government, private sector, and mass digital usage, emerging web 3.0 technologies and digital regulations to accelerate innovation in Pakistan.

Research suggests that a 10 percent increase in broadband penetration results in increasing the GDP by 1.4 percent.

OICCI President Ghias Khan said, “Digitisation can also help inclusion of the underserved population of society such as the far-flung areas of the country. Around 23 million children in Pakistan are out of school and we have less than 1 physician for 1,000 people.”

He added that “to help Pakistan overcome these issues, it is important to digitise the education and health sectors in a phased manner, preparing national electronic health records, and arranging capacity-building workshops for the professionals”.

The report noted that in recent years, there has been tremendous development in digital financial services. However, Pakistan is still a cash-based economy with less than 5 percent merchants accepting digital payments.

Besides promoting digital mode of payments, the government also needs to encourage international e-commerce companies to set up regional offices in Pakistan. Indonesia worked on similar lines and now its e-commerce market size is worth $30 billion, which is expected to reach $54 billion by 2025 and supports 26 million jobs directly and indirectly.

M Abdul Aleem, CE and Secretary General OICCI said, “Digitisation can bring a lot of efficiency to government services, boost productivity and help improve ease of doing business (EODB).”

Philippines can be a good example where public service delivery was digitised under the E-Government Master Plan (EGMP) which helped the country, ranked 95th position in EODB 2020 rating, register an improvement of 29 notches. “Our government should” he continued, “take advantage of modern technologies such as machine learning, data analytics and artificial intelligence to improve competence in public departments, document the economy and increase the tax revenues”.

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