Why I am excited about attending the Digital Youth Summit, and why you should attend too!

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Come to the Digital Youth Summit!

Why am I excited? Because it’s simply awesome! And it is a crucial get together for all those interested in tech, freelancing and entrepreneurship, featuring national and international experts (you read more about the speakers here).

Let me explain. This is the 3nd time that I am writing a blog post about the Digital Youth Summit (taking place this year on May 5-7, 2017 in Peshawar, Pakistan) and, once again, I face the big challenge of trying to make the reader feel at least some of the energy and incredible vibe that characterize this amazing event (you can find my 1st and 2nd posts here and here).

The Digital Youth Summit is a very unique get together. Over its two previous editions, it brought together national, international experts and hundreds of the most passionate and creative youth that Pakistan has to offer, demonstrating to the world that the city of Peshawar has now become the go-to spot for tech experts, freelancers and entrepreneurs from all over the country. The city’s tech ecosystem, once very limited, is now characterized by multiple initiatives and gathering spots for youth, including, for instance, The Nerd Camp, Peshawar 2.0 and Cluster, adding to the projects of Code for Pakistan and Empower Pakistan, both supported by the World Bank.
The 2017 edition, that will take place from May 5-7, is about to break new records.

Why is the Digital Youth Summit so important for Pakistan? Because Pakistan has almost 200 million people (the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa alone, whose capital is Peshawar, has 30 million- equivalent to the size of Greece, Belgium and Sweden, combined) and according to the Pakistani Bureau of Statistics (2013 data), almost 75% of the Pakistani population is below age 35; reaching 76.5% in the case of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Such a social structure characterized by this massive young population requires a continuous thinking of ways that can ensure the productive social and economic inclusion of Pakistani youth, especially in conflict and post-conflict areas. Key challenges include understanding youth aspirations, what youth is passionate about and what are the best ways to empower them so that they can take advantage of emerging opportunities and become active and productive citizens.

The Digital Youth Summit has been doing just that: i) raising awareness about emerging global trends such as the e-lancing industry for instance (e.g. Online freelancing grows in Pakistan, earnings reach $1bn) while ii) showcasing successful initiatives that are creating jobs for youth and, last but not least, iii) empowering successful innovators and entrepreneurs that are shaping the future Pakistan.

Let me share one great success, made possible thanks to the DYS.

It’s the story of The Nerd Camp, the venture of “a bunch of creative nerds committed to making Peshawar a technological hub and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa a modern province of the world”. Not only did some of those “nerds” participate in the 2014 KP Civic Hackathon backed by the World Bank, but they went on to secure funding and mentoring from investors they met at DYS 2015, moving on to establish The Nerd Camp, a local venture that has been training dozens of young smart people on coding and website development, empowering them to build and develop their own ventures.

Why am I excited to attend DYS? Because I look forward to meeting and interacting with local youth and see how they are shaping the future of Pakistan.

Trust me, you should attend it too!

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