Empowering the next
Generation of innovators
Punjab stands to benefit considerably from innovation enabled through the widespread use of Internet services. Through “Innovation Punjab”, Punjab IT Board wants to empower the next generation of innovators in Pakistan.
Our vision is to create the right policy environment to empower thousands more innovation heroes; leading to the creation of new jobs and sustainable economic growth. This is a clarion call to Pakistanis at home and abroad to help us enable more heroes across Pakistan to make use of technology to boost our economy, drive social innovation and improve society.
MEET THE HEROES
The Innovation Punjab campaign is a Punjab Government project, led by the Punjab Information Technology Board (PITB). It aims to highlight innovation in Pakistan and to create the right policy environment to empower thousands more innovation heroes; leading to the creation of new jobs and sustainable economic growth. The project is supported by Google.
Why is the Punjab government doing this?
PITB believes in the power of the open internet to act as enabler for Pakistan’s economy and society. We want to act as a facilitator for local people to get online to use the Internet for education and business. We believe the time is ripe to try to make it easier for Pakistanis to make use of this .
The campaign focuses on how we can facilitate access to fast and cheap internet and e-payment mechanisms to open new avenues for entrepreneurs, seek feedback from citizens to improve service delivery and identify corruption; work with industries and universities to cultivate and foster innovation online in Punjab. We’re doing this because it shouldn’t be too hard. A good start to improve the regulatory framework for innovation is simply to highlight the barriers that are discouraging innovation and bring them to the top of the policy agenda. This report brings transparency and clarity to our vision of the future of the Internet in Pakistan. We look forward to working with the people of Punjab to bringing about this future.
Why is Google supporting this?
Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. Google supports innovation online in Pakistan and around the globe.
Some of the innovators featured are not from Punjab, why?
In highlighting Innovation Heroes, this project seeks to celebrate positive examples of normal people doing extraordinary things online from across the length and breadth of Pakistan. These people are overcoming the odds; making creative use of technology to grow the economy and make a positive impact on society. They’re our innovation heroes. They work through electricity shortages, infrastructure deficits, and regulatory barriers.
How does PITB plan to take this forward?
There are lots of opportunities for us to work our Working across sectors with government colleagues, entrepreneurs, academia, industry and civil society, we will work hard to harness our tech-savvy youth to drive the development of an information technology ecosystem. Within the Innovation Punjab Report, we’ve outlined a number of measures PITB aim to enable increased innovation and use of online tools so that we can improve Pakistan’s overall economic performance.
Ali Gul Pir Ali Gul Pir
In 2012, Ali approached TV stations and media channels asking could he record a music video about the feudal lords in their studios. He was turned away at every corner.
He decided to do it himself. Using his film and comic skills, with a tiny budget he created a music video that instantly went viral. It’s a satirical rap about his life called “Waderai Ka Beta”. The video features the comedian playing the role of a feudal lord’s son, sashayed by an entourage of guards and rolling in his metallic-orange Hummer.
Soon after, he announced a gig on Facebook. Within 2 days, 180 people showed up, each paying 500 Rupees. Then the big contracts came. He quickly signed deals with phone companies to sell his song as a ringtone and Pakistan’s biggest brands approached him to advertise on his next video.
Through the Internet, Ali has found a global audience and for his talents and has opened up new, innovative revenue streams.
Ali Gul Pir’s story is more and more common. Creators are taking advantage of what the Internet has to offer to find an audience and make money.
Today, more music, movies, videos and books are published than ever before. And through a decade of economic and technological upheaval, the entertainment industry’s value grew 50% while consumer spending also increased.
How can policymakers help more creators harness the power of the Internet?
How can copyright protections and exceptions be made flexible, tailored, and predictable, so that more creators like Ali can succeed online with services like YouTube?
How can digital content become more efficient, so that it’s easier than ever to launch the next great online service?
Sidra and M. Hussain Hometown Shoes
The history of leather industry in Pakistan is as old as the country itself. Following independence in the 1950s, tanneries established in and around Lahore. For decades, the industry went from strength to strength. However, in recent years Pakistan’s leather exports witnessed a major decline because of a decrease in demand, poor resources the lack of direct access to customers. As Pakistan’s second top foreign exchange earner, this decline is of serious concern.
M. Hussain has been making shoes and selling to local shoe brands for many years. Unfortunately, with the economy in decline things took a turn for the worse; the orders were drying up, he wasn’t in a position to reach handmade shoe buyers himself given and he didn’t have the finances to open up a shop in Lahore city.
In 2010, M. Hussain met Sidra.
Spotting a gap in the market and armed with a grant from the Pakistan Software Houses Association (P@sha) Social Innovation Fund, Sidra and Mohammed launched Hometownshoes.com earlier this year. It’s an online store selling handmade leather shoes to the world. They’ve sold their traditional footwear (chappal) in Paris and shoes in other parts of the world (with customers in UK, Saudi Arabia and Hong Kong). The Hometown team now has 11 employees based out of a warehouse in Okara, outside Lahore.
Hometownshoes isn’t alone. Small and medium sized businesses that heavily rely on the Web grow and export twice as much as others, and are 10% more productive.
How can policymakers empower more local businesses to harness the power of the Internet?
How can we bring fast, affordable, and open access to every business in Pakistan?
How can existing government funding for businesses be used to create open educational resources that teach businesses how to get online and thrive?
Barirah Nazir Lecturer, University of Sargodha
Meet Barirah Nazir, lecturer in the Department of English at the University of Sargodha, changing the education system one link at a time.
As a student, Barirah learned languages using computers. Using this experience, Barirah now teaches her students phonetic symbols using her laptop and a sound system in the classroom. After class, students check the course blog where Barirah posts links to further sites with additional educational material..
Using the Internet for education quickly showed results and now she and her students use it as much as they can. Education is now no longer possible in Barirah’s classroom without the assistance of online learning materials. Readings are linked, research projects are worked on collaboratively and term paper submission details are provided online.
“It’s hard to do it for everything with the electricity crisis and limited access to the Internet, but teachers can motivate their students by making these tools part of the learning experience”.
Barirah is making use of freely available online materials to improve the educational experience. Educators are seeing how tutorials and lessons can give students opportunities to customize their learning experience outside of the classroom, making teaching more personal to each and every student. But there's still a long way to go; many educators aren’t yet using the Internet in as part of the education because local language content isn’t readily available in Pakistan.
How can policymakers empower more teachers and students to harness the power of the Internet?
How can governments create the incentives and flexibility for the new innovative digital educational providers like Barirah to be given a fair shot at taking education to the next level in classrooms?
How can the rules that limit the Internet use in schools be altered to empower teachers and students to experiment with new web-based tools?
Farasat Iqbal Punjab Health Sector Reform Program
For a long time, —management lacked timely, authentic information from health workers visiting health centers. In 2009, Farasat joined Punjab Health Sector Reforms Program (PHSRP) as the Program Director.
He soon got involved in the Punjab Model for Proactive Governance, an initiative taken by Government of Punjab to seek feedback from citizens, availing various services provided by the government, through technology. The model has been piloted for various services, such as property registration and health related services.
For Farasat, the program gave Internet enabled phones to staff in rural Punjab to collect information from medical centers. Staff were asked to visit all facilities at least once a month and upload their monitoring reports through these phones on a simple app. These reports include location and time; decreasing the possibility of fraudulent reports.
The reports are fed into a computer system which keeps track of doctor absenteeism, medicine stock outs, availability and functionality of equipment etc. Managers then access this information through a dashboard, available online and are able to make decisions based on the information in a timely manner. The project has already scaled up to 9o phones, covering half of Punjab.
Farasat is now planning to replicate this in other areas of public sector such as Agriculture, Irrigation, Livestock, Excise & Taxation etc.
Farasat is one of many innovators within government in Pakistan. We’re seeing the small projects emerge from multiple sources within the public sector.
How can policymakers help more to empower people like Farasat within government?
How can the government improve the availability of civic services for the civil population?
It is possible for the government to provide more trainings online for their staff?
The Internet enables business to innovate, citizens to benefit from better public services and people to have better access to the information, networks and services that they need to live better lives. A good start to achieving our potential is to highlight the barriers that are discouraging innovation and bring them to the top of the policy agenda. This report is a first step to identifying the necessary policy framework to enable increased innovation and use of online tools so that we can improve Pakistan’s overall economic performance.
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