In terms of technology and innovation, Pakistan is trailing far behind India and the Philippines, i.e. the two economies that have had great success in tapping the potential of ICT in South and Southeast Asia, according to WEF Readiness for the Future Production Report 2018.
Pakistan is ranked at 88th as compared with India and Philippine which stand at 34th and 59th respectively.
Pakistan’s ranking for ‘FDI and technology transfer’ and ‘cybersecurity commitment’ is relatively better compared to other sub-indicators. However, its ranking in the cellular subscriptions and internet user categories comes as a surprise.
Evidently, while the country has made gains in these aspects relative to its own past performance, other countries in the region have forged ahead faster. Regarding the ability to innovate, Pakistan’s overall ranking is again unsatisfactory.
The drag created by funding constraints for startups and gaps in patentability is reflected in the sub-indicators relating to ‘venture capital deal volume per size of economy’ (90th rank) and ‘patent applications’ (86th rank).
That said, the ‘government procurement of advanced technology products’ offers some comfort. Viewed in conjunction with the ‘state of cluster development’, it signals that the public sector is making a conscious effort to facilitate innovation. Furthermore, the private sector’s dynamism is captured in the sub-indicators relating to companies’ receptiveness to embrace disruptive ideas and to make investments in emerging technologies.
Going forward, it will be imperative to build upon the current base of multi-stakeholder collaboration. Startup founders, VCs, incubation centers, regulators, tax authorities, large ICT firms, associations, ministries, academia, think tanks, and the Pakistani diaspora will need to complement each other’s activities to ensure that the country does not miss the ‘fourth industrial revolution’ bus.