The DCO Secretary-General Champions Female Inclusion With Pakistan President, Launches Pakistan Innovation Challenge For 1m Students

The Online Pakistan Innovation Challenge To Support 1 Million Pakistani School Children In Learning Digital Skills By 2022.

Pakistan President Dr. Arif Alvi, Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Quresh and Federal Minister for Information Technology and Telecommunications, Syed Amin Ul Haque, today welcomed the Digital Cooperation Organization (DCO) Secretary-General Deemah AlYahya to Pakistan as part of her international tour of DCO member states.

The Digital Cooperation Organization (DCO) Secretary-General H.E. Deemah AlYahya, Pakistan’s President Dr. Arif Alvi, Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi and Federal Minister for Information Technology and Telecommunications, Syed Amin Ul Haque promoted Pakistan’s digital economy progress during her inaugural visit to Pakistan. The DCO Secretary-General met with government and private sector leaders to promote female and youth digital economy initiatives as part of the member state tour, and launched the online Pakistan Innovation Challenge to support 1 million Pakistani school children in learning digital skills by 2022.

The visit sought to promote digital initiatives for youth, women, and entrepreneurs, and strengthen cooperation to accelerate the growth of Pakistan’s digital economy.  As part of the visit, the DCO launched the Pakistan Innovation Challenge, an online competition for 1 million Pakistan K-12 school children to learn maths, computer science, robotics, artificial intelligence, design and innovation online, delivered in partnership with the Pakistan Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunications, Special Technology Zones Authority, and technology companies PolyUp and Innovators Garage.

During the visit, the President, Ministers and the Secretary-General discussed the wide range of initiatives that Pakistan is implementing to drive business growth and entrepreneurship in digital industries. In particular, the Secretary-General endorsed initiatives to include women in the digital economy, and the government’s goal to double the size of its information technology industry through the introduction of dedicated tech zones.

President Dr. Alvi said: “Pakistan is committed to supporting the innovative ideas and potential of women and young Pakistanis to create, scale and export exciting new digital technologies. Such innovation will enable greater prosperity for all Pakistanis and the world.”   Foreign Minister Qureshi reflected on the importance of the digital economy to women, young people, and Pakistan’s future, stating:

“Pakistan is committed to international partnerships that provide access to fair, consistent and enabling regulations. That is why we are a strong supporter of the DCO and its initiatives to foster collaboration between governments in developing the global digital economy.”  Commenting on her visit to Pakistan, DCO Secretary-General, Her Excellency Deemah Al-Yahya, said:

“At the Digital Cooperation Organization we are building partnerships with governments, the private and non-profit sectors wherever and whenever they have a meaningful impact in creating digital prosperity. I congratulate the Pakistan government on their initiatives to enable women and young people to benefit from the internet and digital economy, and look forward to strengthening our efforts in the years to come.”

“I am thrilled to have met young female entrepreneurs creating digital education and financial solutions for Pakistan and the world, who provide an exciting glimpse of what the future holds for this country.”

The Secretary-General also hosted a dialogue with Pakistan tech leaders during the visit, including companies who are developing finance products for the unbanked using mobile technology, and education platforms enabling school students to study online.

 Reflecting on the visit, Minister Syed Amin Ul Haque said:

“Pakistan is committed to providing an environment where all our citizens can reap the rewards of a thriving digital economy. We are investing to bridge the rural-urban digital divide through initiatives such as the Universal Service Fund, which supports telecommunications infrastructure development across Pakistan.”  “The Pakistan government has a vision to further build a knowledge-based economy. Our membership of the DCO will continue to provide opportunities for collaboration between governments to develop an inclusive global digital economy.”

The meetings were part of a broader visit by the Secretary-General to promote and strengthen the digital economy in Pakistan, a member state of the DCO. The visit also included meetings with the Pakistan Software Export Board, Federation of Pakistan Chamber of Commerce, State Bank of Pakistan, Pakistan Board of Investment, leading universities, digital technology companies, and digital economy leaders and start-ups.  The Secretary-General’s visit to Pakistan concludes on Friday 19 November and is one of several visits to DCO member states in the organization’s first year. The visits will be used to share initiatives and expertise that grow the digital economy in each member state and globally.