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Consultative workshop for the Digital FDI Enabling Project Held

By: Zoya Anwar

ISLAMABAD: A consultative workshop on the ongoing Digital Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) Enabling Project was held in Islamabad on Tuesday. The discussion centered on the creation of an enabling environment to increase digital foreign direct investment in Pakistan.

The workshop was organized collaboratively by the Board of Investment (BOI), the Digital Cooperation Organisation (DCO), the World Economic Forum (WEF), the Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunications (MoITT) and Tabadlab. Participants included key stakeholders from the public and private sectors working in Pakistan’s digital economy.

The event aimed to shortlist key priority actions from a rich repository of 55 policy options emerging from the Digital FDI Enabling Project – this encompassed over 70 consultations in Pakistan and a survey of 100 investors operating in the market. This initiative is reflective of the Government of Pakistan’s steadfast commitment to fostering economic growth, particularly within the digital realm, and seeks to grow FDI towards Pakistan’s digital activities.

Matthew Stephenson, the Head of Investment and Services at WEF, said: “The workshop today is a culmination of over a year’s work of research and consultations, and we are now at the stage of understanding Pakistan’s priorities to grow digital FDI, and supporting the implementation of enabling actions.”

Manel Bondi, Chief of Digital Markets Growth, DCO said: “Our goal with the Digital FDI Enabling Project is to lay the groundwork for a thriving digital investment landscape in Pakistan. This workshop was a crucial step towards aligning policies that attract and sustain digital investment.”

Farooq Ahmed Cheema, Director (Multilateral Organisation), MoITT, remarked that “the productive discussions held at today’s consultative workshop on Digital FDI in Pakistan demonstrate a growing recognition of the country’s immense potential in the digital sector. The Ministry of IT & Telecom is fully committed to fostering a conducive environment that attracts foreign investment and fuels the growth of our thriving tech industry. This will not only facilitate innovation and economic growth, but also create exciting new opportunities for Pakistanis and global partners alike”.

Tabadlab’s Founding Partner and Head of Advisory Umar Nadeem said: “Pakistan’s digital promise requires a holistic and coherent approach to yield dividends for a young population. The Digital FDI Initiative presents a unique opportunity to grow the digital economy, address Pakistan’s fiscal challenges and accelerate progress for improving socioeconomic outcomes.”

BOI Director Mehmood Tufail appreciated the direction of the conversation: “It is imperative to work towards a way forward. An implementation plan should be highlighted and truly implemented in letter and spirit by the government entities in consultation with the stakeholders.”

The policy options under consideration covered a broad spectrum of themes, including institutional architecture, regulatory environment, incentives for digital infrastructure, a digital-centric tax regime, and bridging the academia-industry gap. The workshop emphasised the significance of several key initiatives: establishing stable tax policies and aligning tax incentives with digital development goals, creating a unified digital system to connect government ministries, developing data-sharing mechanisms, boosting Pakistan’s competitiveness in the regional and international investment landscape, and cultivating a skilled workforce through specialized digital training programs.

The insights from the workshop will inform the Digital FDI Enabling Project’s strategic direction and activities over the coming year, propelling Pakistan towards a more robust and inclusive digital economy poised for sustained growth and prosperity.

About the Digital FDI Enabling Project in Pakistan

The Digital FDI Enabling Project is part of the joint Digital FDI Initiative of the World Economic Forum and the Digital Cooperation Organisation, aimed at increasing digital FDI in emerging economies. Pakistan’s implementation of this project involves close collaboration with the BOI and MoITT, focusing on four key pillars: new digital activities, digital adoption, digital infrastructure, and digital service exports. Through a series of consultations, surveys and workshops, the project seeks to create an enabling environment conducive to the growth and development of Pakistan’s digital economy.

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