The Digital Youth Summit (DYS), a two-day event comprised of a conference and an expo took place on May 21st and 22nd. Held in Peshawar, it invited people from all over the country to participate in the conference and expo, and featured keynotes, panel discussions, as well as skills shops. The event was organized through a collaboration of KPITB, Peshawar 2.0 and World Bank.
The event motto was “bringing together the next generation of digital innovators in Pakistan”. The event certainly managed to deliver on this promise, as they brought together 66 speakers from across the country (some from abroad), and held 28 sessions over two days. Hundreds of attendees left the event inspired and motivated, as they learnt about digital media and business management from the best in the field.
“Sell your turban, pakol (Chitrali hat), khushq mewa (dried fruit), chappals (shoes) to the world. They love it, and are waiting for it.” – Umar Bangash (Tossdown.com)
Divided over two days, the event included an expo and a summit. The expo was meant to showcase the various Pakistani startups, as well as introduce the attendees to the idea of working online, freelancing, and setting up home-based businesses. The next day summit focused on innovation, startups, and freelancing, with panel discussions and breakout sessions.
Summit Discussions Overview
While many themes were touched upon during the two day event, a few stood out.
Creating adaptable youth
According to Dr. Khalid Khan (an official from the higher education department), the youth graduating from our higher educational institutions is unprepared to take on the changing business environment. “Innovation can improve the lives of the public,” said Dr Khalid Khan, “Graduates from our institutions should be equipped to meet changes in K-P’s business environment.” When these unprepared graduates enter the business environment, and find themselves unable to create jobs for themselves, they end up settling abroad or working in jobs they are over-qualified for. The panelists agreed that the current educational system did not create critical thinkers who were able to forge careers for themselves, and engage in business opportunities.
With no laws protecting copyright and intellectual property, many engineers make their way abroad as they find their ideas are being stolen from them. “Software developed by engineers is usually stolen and made readily available in the open market,” said one entrepreneur. There is a need to create laws that protect innovators and entrepreneurs, as well as educational resources on registering trademarks in Pakistan.
According to Cecilia Guildfold of the World Bank, e-commerce in Pakistan could be a $5 billion market by 2018. “For the increasing population, the Government of Pakistan should capture global opportunities for its youth through e-commerce, as people can work in this industry without moving to the country where the job is located.”
During the Digital Youth Summit 2014, the KPITB chairman said that the board is going to select 12 students for IT fellowships through a software competition. The board is also working with educational institutions across KP to setup incubation centers to help promote startups, and will organize a summit in October to that end. The Minister of Information Technology and Health Sharam Khan Tarakai also said that the health department in KP is being digitized to help improve healthcare across the province.