Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, or KP, has not always been recognized as a digital economy. Sharing a border with Afghanistan, the province experienced a period of instability and militancy over several decades that saw outmigration and the decline of private industries. Since then, the province has shown rapid economic growth, advancements in security, improvements in basic health and education, and a renewed sense of optimism.
Today, around half of the province’s population of 30.5 million is under the age of 30, necessitating rapid growth and job creation. In 2014, the Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa partnered with the World Bank to develop a strategy for job creation centered on leveraging the digital economy to address youth unemployment.
Peshawar, Pakistan. One of the oldest cities of Asia and capital of the Province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), is a vibrant city, a melting pot of local and regional cultures that make it the city of hospitality. And in a few weeks, once again, the city will host the Digital Youth Summit which will take place on May 7-9, 2015.
Thanks to the joint efforts of the KP IT Board, the local youth-led organization Peshawar 2.0 and the World Bank, Peshawar will open its doors to the Tech Community from all over the world on May 7-9, 2015.
The Digital Youth Summit is the biggest tech conference of Pakistan that aims at “bringing together the next generation of digital entrepreneurs”, showcasing local startups and giving access to youngsters to income-generating opportunities based on Information and Communication Technologies.
Over the past two years the World Bank has been partnering with Peshawar 2.0 and the KP IT Board to explore new income-generating opportunities for the youth of KP. While talent and creativity are abundant, for many years the Province of KP has been severely affected by social conflicts and terrorist attacks that have deteriorated the investment climate, prevented the private sector for investing more in KP, led to high youth unemployment rate.
In this context of uncertainty, two “non-traditional” sectors have been identified as both attractive for youngsters and growing at global level while providing new opportunities: tech entrepreneurship and on-line work.
Thanks to its low entry barriers, Information and Communication Technologies provide the tools to easily take an idea to the global market, and quickly tackle challenges such as knowledge gaps or distance. A computer and an internet connection are all you need to access a wealth of open-learning material (the success of free portals such as Code.org, Khan Academy and Coursera are great examples) and, for instance, serve clients from different geographies as e-lancer (an e-lancer is an on-line freelancers – have a look at Elance.com trends).
Peshawar 2.0 and the KP IT Board have a clear vision: to take Peshawar to the next level and make it the city of Technology, Design and Arts, and the World Bank has been supporting their efforts. Peshawar 2.0 is a youth-led organization, they are working with the local government to build a movement of innovators and creators that embrace technology and encourage others to do so. The rationnel is very simple: a change of mindset is needed - venture out and use you talent to start your own business or serve clients from all over the world.
“My country finally owns me!" was the delighted reaction from a high level private sector official to the possibility of a national identity system in Bangladesh. A lot of brain-wracking thought went into the possible economic benefits of such a project.
The sleepless nights of complicated financial analyses and exasperatingly fruitless brainstorming sessions that reach a point when you are not willing to say anything until you find something that will make the rest of them jump on their chairs, make things very difficult sometimes! But, the answer was there, short and simple. Such a refreshing start to an interview for the purpose of identifying the probable benefits to service delivery agencies of having access to a near-immaculate database of citizens, was hardly anticipated.
Rolling out robust, digitized national ID (NID) cards to 100 million citizens over a period of five years is the daunting task ahead for Identification System for Enhancing Access to Services (IDEA) Project. One may argue about the novelty offered by this initiative when Bangladeshi citizens with voting eligibility actually have NIDs since late 2008. A solid counter argument would be the “digitized nature” of the sophisticated NIDs of ‘digital Bangladesh’, enabling machine readability of biometric citizen information embedded in the card, as a replacement of the paper based, easily faked cards with little printed information and near-alien photos that gave rise to popular groups like “I hate my NID photo” on Facebook!