Speeches & Transcripts

Unleashing the Potential of Pakistan’s Youth to Contribute to the Global Economy

May 4, 2017

Alexander Ferguson, Senior Manager, Communications for South Asia Region Digital Youth Summit 2017 May 4, 2017 Peshawar, Pakistan

As Prepared for Delivery

Ladies and Gentlemen,

On behalf of the World Bank, I’m pleased to be in Peshawar today at the Digital Youth Summit (DYS), co-sponsored by the World Bank with the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) IT Board and many other partners.

We’re proud that the Digital Youth Summit has grown from an idea of bringing together the next generation of digital innovators, to becoming a major platform to help map out Pakistan’s digital future. It is redefining Khyber Pakhtunkhwa as an emerging technology hub, and providing substantive skills and resources for Pakistan’s youth to take advantage of digital opportunities.

We are appreciative of the commitment provided by the government as well as the support from all the admired experts from Pakistan and around the globe. We thank companies and investors, in sharing their knowledge, and providing resources to train and invest in the youth of KP. Most of all, we are happy to see all the young people here today—students, entrepreneurs, enthusiastic young women and men eager to learn and leave their mark on contributing to Pakistan’s development through the digital economy. We hope that you will find the trainings, announcements, and support to be helpful for unlocking new possibilities to realizing your potential.

The market for “digital entrepreneurship,” a multi-billion-dollar industry, growing at a rapid rate and is thirsty for young talent. These opportunities represent a shift in how we think of development—bringing the creativity and passion of tech-savvy young innovators to the forefront of social and economic change. The youth of Pakistani are well placed to be the in the driver’s seat of this vibrant future.

Today, more than 60% of the population of Pakistan is under the age of 30. Young men and women stand to gain significantly from global opportunities. We need to invest more in their skills and mold their ideas into new products, services, and successful businesses that will benefit us all. The productive engagement, empowerment, and inclusion of these young people will be critical to bringing Pakistan to its full development potential. We need to create the right environment, or what we call the “ecosystem”, to enable this to happen.

The city of Peshawar, and much of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, face many challenges. But in these challenges there are also opportunities. The key to unlocking these opportunities is through connecting Pakistan’s youth to a global and networked economy.  In this dynamic and globalized world, the youth of even the most far flung areas of KP will increasingly have an opportunity to work, to make money, and to innovate through virtual connections. Examples of this are already happening. Let’s listen, encourage, and support this even more to create a wave of positive change.

We are excited for the learning, sharing, and transformative announcements that will be made over the next 3 days. We look forward to the presentations and exchanges by the experts and participants, as well as being inspired by local startups at the DYS Expo and all the innovative ideas that students will present to investors at the Academic Cup.  

On behalf of the World Bank Group and our team who has been working on this initiative, I would like to very much thank the Government of KP, and in particular Chief Minister Pervez Khattak as well as all of our respected partners for your support to the Digital Youth Summit and the youth of Pakistan.

Indeed, KP has the potential to become a hub of technological innovation for a brighter, more prosperous future. Let’s all work together to make this dream come true. Let’s invest more in our young men and women through improving training and skills. Let’s continue to create an environment that embraces technology and encourages entrepreneurship. Let’s make it easier for entrepreneurs, both men and women, to be able to connect with one another and the world. For young people, don’t lose sight of your goals and never give up, treasure learning and make the most of all opportunities. Be the future that you want to see.

Thank you! 

Media Contacts
In Islamabad
Shazhad Sharjeel
Tel : (92-51) 227 9641,
In Washington
Joe Qian
Tel :  (1 202)473-5633,