KP Government launches a comprehensive digital economy programme

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on whatsapp

The future of jobs is in the digital economy and in knowledge workers. In a monumental step today, the Government of KP’s Senior Minister has unveiled a plan to focus comprehensively on linking youth to the growing number of tech based and ICT-enabled jobs. This plan will include investments in skilling young people for these knowledge based jobs for the future and emphasize support for young tech entrepreneurs to launch their own startups. The Senior Minister declared the Year 2016 as the Year of Technology in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The foundation for this new plan is the KP IT Board’s initiative to work with partners such as the World Bank and Peshawar 2.0, and other partners, to showcase KP as a hub for technology startups and ICT enabled jobs. These partnerships have sustained a positive campaign bringing a new image to KP. The Digital Youth Summit is one such outreach event, which has quickly become one of the largest tech events in Pakistan.

In 2015, the summit saw the participation of 3500+ youth, and 100+ local and international speakers, an estimated outreach to 5 million people online, and experts providing mentorship and personal advice to young people from KP wishing to start a tech-based business. The Digital Youth Summit 2015 led to the creation of Pakistan’s first ever angel investment fund with investors from Silicon Valley, USA and the Middle East providing seed funding to KP based youth led startups.

The KP IT Board, in a globally-acknowledge first of its kind programme, has also worked with partners such as Code for Pakistan on a Civic Innovation Fellowship program, enabling the youth to create solutions to problems faced by Government departments.

The Senior Minister for IT and Health, Mr. Shahram Tarakai, announced today that these events are only the beginning, and a foundation for a greater program and a multi-year plan to develop jobs for youth in IT. The Minister highlighted several events that will be taking place over the next few months, including an Art and Technology Festival (“ArtTech Festival”), a KP Apps Challenge, and Digital Youth Summit 2016. These are all important community building efforts, and showcase KP’s untapped talent and potential. The five components the Minister announced included:

  1. Skills Development and Training: Building skills in ICT for the youth. This includes freelancing and online work to promote the digital economy and new, trending areas that are high in demand – like design, app development, marketing, fundraising and finance.

Initially we will be investing 40 million rupees to directly train the youth of 7 divisions of KP for 3000 jobs in the digital economy, and we hope 10s of thousands of jobs indirectly through entrepreneurship.

  1. Supporting initiatives like incubation programmes to develop early stage startups and enabling the ecosystem through other resources. This is crucial for taking the 200+ companies already in the ecosystem to the next level.
  2. Support flagship events, like the emerging Digital Youth Summit in Peshawar – which has been reported to be the largest tech conference in the country – which will be bigger next year, and events, like the new Art+Tech Festival, which for the first time in Pakistan, will highlight the intersection of technology, culture and art.
  3. We are working with different partners and individual investors in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to create Angel Investment and other funding opportunities for the youth. This will be following up on the 20 million rupees already invested in startup locally.
  4. We will also support community building efforts with other stakeholders like the academia, the private sector and the development sector, to further enable developments like academic consortia, curriculum development, non-traditional investment mechanisms, etc.

All of these initiatives, the Senior Minister said, are part of a broader strategy and a longer term vision. This vision is to transform Peshawar into a hub of technology, design and art and all of KP into a digitally ready workforce and to promote innovation and entrepreneurship and step into the knowledge-based economy.