Pakistan is leapfrogging into a new era of tech industry: Masood Khan

Pakistan is leapfrogging into a new era of tech industry: Masood Khan

F.P. Report

SAN FRANCISCO :“Tech entrepreneurship in Pakistan has taken off and the country is leapfrogging into a new era of tech industry,” said Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United States.

“A number of factors have contributed to the exponential growth of tech sector of the country. One is the ecosystem; the digitization of the economy. A new class of professionals graduating from universities is participating in digitized economy and this is giving a new direction to our economy,” he said.

“Second is the enabling environment that the Government of Pakistan has created for the growth of tech and IT sector keeping in view of its immense potential not just for Pakistan, but also for the extended neighbourhood comprising Middle East, Central Africa, West Asia and other adjoining markets,” he continued.

“So it is in this context what we call a nascent tech revolution in Pakistan,” he added.

Masood Khan made these remarks as a key note speaker during a special session, ‘Tales of Triumph: The Rise of Pakistani Startup’, at Annual OPEN Global Silicon Valley Convention in Santa Clara, CA. The panelists, Hamza Jawaid, founder of Bazaar Technologies, Omair Ansari, CEO & Co-Founder ABHI and Aaqib Gadit, Co-Founder and former CEO Cloudways, shared their success stories and booming startups of the country. The event was moderated by Liza Miller.

He said that the country has set up a Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC) and IT sector was among its foremost priorities. He said that the Council is aimed at fast- tracking approvals and registrations, overseeing implementation and catalyze much needed regulatory reforms including ensuring stable payment cycles, protection of intellectual property rights and addressing the issues related to repatriation of funds by foreign investors.

Highlighting the successes in tech and IT sector, he apprised the participants that from a meagre $10 million venture capital funding in 2018 per year, global VCs and other investors were pouring in $1 billion annually in Pakistan now.

“This is despite the headwinds that we faced; economic, political, pandemic and the devastating floods lost year,” he said.

He noted that leading global VCs including Kleiner Perkins, Target, Tiger Global, Dragoneer, Acrew, Sequoia Capital, UK’s Kingsway, Speedinvest from Europe, UAE’s Sharooq, and Chinaccelerator and Fatimah Gobi from China were betting their money in Pak tech startups.

“We need to retain venture capital funding and also to move to less capital intensive tech enterprises, he said while noting challenges in tech industry. “We have to have indigenous domestic investment,” he said.

He recounted various steps being taken by the Government to facilitate businesses that included moving toward investors’ friendly regulatory regime, E-Wallet facility introduced by State Bank of Pakistan, clear definition of a tech-startup by Securities and Exchange Commission and setting up of Special Technology Zones.

On incentives for US investors and businesses, Masood Khan said that the presence of some 80 US enterprises in Pakistan “creates an enabling environment for new entrepreneurs to go into Pakistani market.”

“We have suffered reputational damage due to global war of past four decades. We are making efforts to rebrand our image,” he observed.

The Ambassador called 235 million population of the country with a median age of 22 and a growing middle class of over 80 million, as suggested by Forbes, as a promising demographic profile that would steer the country towards growth.

He reiterated his call to have full faith in Pakistan. “Have faith in the ability of the people of Pakistan. Keep investing in Pakistan. We will make it. You have to decide whether you will be part of the revolution or not,” concluded the Ambassador.