Made in Pakistan Roadmap
Pakistan should focus on innovation-stimulating policy to effect substantial changes in directions and sectoral structure of technological flows. In the past, Pakistan was blamed for cloning Chinese and US technologies and business models (‘Copy China’ strategy). In recent years, the trend has reversed. Western companies are looking to Pakistani youth, especially in internet-related and freelance areas, offering Pakistan an opportunity to transform from a recipient of foreign technological ideas into a driver of technological innovations. Pakistani industries are not only getting closer to the technological frontier in conventional areas such as electronics, machinery, automobiles assembling and aviation, but also driving technological innovations in emerging areas. Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) tend to be rather successful in creation of new combinations of component technologies. As Pakistan used to be, for decades, an international ‘assembly manufactory’ and the core element of global value-added chains, different research and development (R&D) activities were based inside the country, providing opportunities for new technological combinations.
The sectoral priorities are closely connected with contemporary trends on the advanced markets, and are also potential challenges and risks to Pakistan’s long-term sustainable development. The three major fields of novelty development can be outlined as:
1. Agricultural technologies – as the problems of ensuring food security become more acute. Positive population growth and rapid middle-class growth increase demand for agricultural products. At the same time, relatively lower productivity of agricultural workforce, together with rapid urbanization and gradual degradation of agricultural land, result in lower supply of agricultural produce.
2. Energy – mainly new and renewable sources of energy (solar, wind, biomass and nuclear), advanced nuclear energy should be explored. Pakistan remains one of the main energy-consumers despite an increasing scarcity of traditional energy sources. The contemporary policy aims at establishing a clean, low-carbon, safe and efficient modern energy system for sustainable growth, and achieving the goal of non-fossil energy.
3. Cyberspace – including information and telecommunications technologies of the next decade, big data and supercomputers, robotics and e-commerce which have both economic and political connotations. In addition to the anticipated adequate returns due to excessive demand on both domestic and external markets for these types of technologies and services, they become a strategic resource for strengthening Pakistan’s positions in the international relations framework. The notion of ‘international standing’ has slowly changed, it is now defined not only by military or economic power but also by the power of opinion of the countries (Pakistan’s Soft Power), their positioning in information and digital space.
The writer is the author of The Reforms. He is serving as a Strategic & Administrative Adviser to a CPEC project in Islamabad. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org