CPBC Partnered with the Ministry of International Trade, Government of Ontario to host an extremely successful seminar that opened the doors to the rapidly growing Information & Communications Technology (ICT) sector in Pakistan.
Canada-Pakistan Merchandise Trade Exceeds $1 Billion in 2015
A highly informative and interactive session held at the Ontario Investment and Trade Centre (OITC) was attended by many IT and Communications professionals to explore business opportunities in the ICT sector in Pakistan. Overseas participants joined via video conference for the seminar seamlessly put together by CPBC team comprising of newly appointed Director Ms. Naveed Hyder, CEO H5 Interiors with the support of Majid Kazmi, CEO Valu Ventures Inc.
CPBC and Ministry of International Trade, Government of Ontario Partnership Creates Linkages with ICT Sector in Pakistan
Some of these companies are already benefiting from business with Pakistan through joint ventures and utilizing expertise of freelancers.
Samir Dossal, President CPBC welcomed the participants and expressed his appreciation for the support provided by the Consul General of Pakistan in Toronto, Hon. Imran Ahmed Siddiqui and MPP, Hon. Dr. Shafiq Qaadri. . He introduced the overseas participants connected via video conference from Pakistan and the US, including the Chairman of Pakistan Software Houses Association, P@SHA, Mr. Naseer A. Akhtar.
The co-host representing Ministry of International Trade, Government of Ontario, Mr. Akhil Tyagi, commended Samir Dossal and CPBC for taking the initiative of starting a dialog among stakeholders. He provided the context of the meeting by alluding to the deliberations between the Ministry of International Trade and CPBC, as potential partners to collaborate between stakeholders from Canada and Pakistan for maximizing outreach to lucrative markets in the ICT sector. He highlighted the opportunities for valuable synergies strengthened through existing partnerships.
MPP Dr. Qaadri showed his support for both organizations and highlighted the immense business opportunity that Canadian companies can leverage through access to Pakistani market with a vast consumer base of 50 million people. He pointed towards the prospect of the 300,000 strong Canadian-Pakistani Diaspora to leverage the opportunities for business-to-business collaboration in the field of ICT. Dr. Qaadri called out the massive infrastructure investment in Pakistan through the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project to the tune of nearly $50 billion with the potential for this investment to increase manifold in the coming decade.
The Pakistani Consul General Mr. Siddiqui reiterated the geo-strategic importance of Pakistan as an economic hub that connects West, Central and South Asia creating trade linkages with different parts of the world. He reaffirmed that the Government of Pakistan is committed to supporting the growth of local and international trade through building enabling infrastructure, not only limited to road networks but also the ICT infrastructure. He pointed out that 10,000 technically trained freelance service providers enter the ICT market in Pakistan every year which amounts to a huge talent pool that can be utilized by international companies.
36 Canadian Companies Connect with P@SHA, NUST and Biylitca in Pakistani ICT Sector
Mr. Naseer A. Akhtar, Chairman P@SHA joined via video conference from Pakistan, he highlighted the skill development in entrepreneurship alongside technical education enabling growth of small businesses that are able to compete regionally and globally. Mr. Akhtar also underscored the need for business-to-business collaboration to produce concrete economic returns for both countries. Pakistan can offer immense value in the ICT sector to international businesses if these business-to-business connections are strengthened. He ended by naming Ms. Jehan Ara, President, P@SHA as the primary contact for Canadian stakeholders for the ICT sector in Pakistan. He also indicated the important role that Pakistan Software Export Board (PSEB) plays and highlighted it as another channel for businesses in Canada to connect to stakeholders in Pakistan.
Muhammad Ahsan, Founding CEO, Nutshell Forum also joined the meeting remotely from Pakistan He highlighted the role his organization plays in supporting innovation in the ICT sector in Pakistan. He applauded the role of CPBC for establishing the focus group as a crucial first step for exploring opportunities for the two countries to collaborate in ICT. He welcome the CPBC Delegation to attend the Asia Management Conclave being organised by Nutshell Forum and the JANG Group.
The representatives of 36 Canadian companies attended the seminar; each participant contributed their expertise to make this forum into a dynamic platform for furthering ICT connections between Canada and Pakistan. Among those present were Mr. Zeeshan Ali, Regional Vice President of Salesforce, Badar Shamim, Chairman Brampton Board of Trade (BBoT), Faiz A Faizi CEO/President of Efficace Technologies Inc and Projex International Inc, Andrew deGroot, Client Partner, FICO to name a few, Mohammed Saqib, Manager BDC. Mr. Shami Munir, President & CEO, K Mobile was gracious to present their gift bags to all the participants.
Ms. Rabia Shoaib Ahmad, Director-Corporate Advisory Council (CAC), NUST, also connected from Pakistan.
National University of Science and Technology has a great deal to offer to ICT professionals around the world, the Colleges have academic and R&D capability, totalling approximately 800-1,000 ICT graduates a year. Moreover, NUST has a well-organised mechanism for engaging with the Industry in different sectors, through the Corporate Advisory Council (CAC). The faculty & students work with the Industry on different projects. NUST also has a technology incubation centre where budding entrepreneurs are nurtured to become successful ventures. NUST is delighted to add value through its vast R&D infrastructure. Ms. Rabia recommended Canadian businesses to access the pool of brilliant students, faculty and alumni of NUST.
Also present via video conference was a young entrepreneur, Usman Ahmed, CEO Bilytica, who joined from Pakistan. Speaking from Lahore, Usman introduced his company, Bilytica based out of Melbourne, Australia as a data analytics and business intelligence company that has worked with clients globally with development offices in Pakistan. Bilytica now has 8 offices and fortune 500 clients. It provides intelligent software products based on AI as well as ERP with AI and machine learning capabilities. There are nearly 25,000 users of these products around the world. Usman highlighted the ease of identifying and hiring relevant technical resources in Pakistan in the fields of IT, compared to other countries of the world.
Technology Advisor of CPBC, Mr. Javed Mughal concluded the meeting on a positive note by highlighting the strength of Pakistan in various technologies and by quoting specific examples to elaborate this. He shared a personal experience working with a company based in Karachi that helped build a robotics module in 4 weeks, a work that would have taken months for a company to develop in Canada.
He highlighted the importance of sustainability for companies in Pakistan, with reference to client’s preference for cloud based solutions. He maintained that since software is now being offered as a service through subscription-based models, there is an immense need to build trust with international clients with companies in Pakistan. He also highlighted the growth of internet-of-Things and the huge potential that Pakistan offers in this area. He stated that this is an opportunity that companies internationally have been overlooking.
Pointing to another example of disruptive innovation that businesses need to be cognizant of, he spoke of the new broadcasting technologies ATC3 that is bringing about a paradigm shift in broadcasting by not relying on radio signals anymore. He suggested that companies need to upgrade their infrastructure to stay abreast with the technologies of the future.
To conclude the meeting, Samir Dossal thanked all participants and expressed the importance of continuing of dialogue to produce actionable intelligence and concrete results. Participants in both countries shared high level insights into the opportunities available in the ICT sector and appreciated a face-to-face discussions via video conference with their counterparts. There was keen interest on both sides for further discussions on more specific areas of the industry. And to make recommendations on how to enhance linkages leading to increased trade in this sector.