Lahore : Newly appointed director of United States Agency for International Development (USAID) for Punjab Ms. Allison McFarland paid a visit to the Punjab IT Board (PITB) on Friday. The Vice Chancellor of IT University (ITU) Dr. Umar Saif who is also Chairman of PITB briefed her on the major projects initiated to improve transparency, accountability and efficiency in Punjab.
Ms. McFarland said “Our focus is to invest money in the initiatives aiming at ensuring peace, prosperity & democracy in Pakistan. The skilful use of smart technology in government businesses of Punjab is very inspiring. PITB’s innovative work is bringing positive changes in the education and health sector. I am thrilled to work in collaboration with PITB and ITU on the projects pertaining to health, education, agriculture and livestock etc.
Earlier Dr. Saif shared an idea to introduce a new subject named Technology for Development at the ITU so that upcoming generations may have an opportunity to be well versed with the latest technologies emerging across the globe. Dr Umar Saif pitched the idea of Maker Movement in Pakistan that would promote art, innovation, creation and imagination in the country while stating that the maker space instituted at PITB would serve as a precursor to the movement.
He further elaborated that the aim behind maker movement was to start hosting maker fests and setting up maker spaces across colleges and universities to encourage students to work towards technological innovations. Dr Saif also introduced McFarland to the program of distributing smartphones among farmers through which they shall be acquainted with necessary methods of agriculture and other imperative recommendations to boost harvest bringing economic uplift.
Dr. Saif said “We have introduced Plan9 that has become the largest start-up incubator of Pakistan. It has incubated more than 130 start-up companies of whom some have won international fame. These start-ups have set a new trend in the ignored field of entrepreneurship and now more than 20 universities and colleges have established their own start-up incubators with the help of ITU. Our start-ups have secured seed funding amounting around $70 million from USA, UK and Middle East states.”
The USAID director realised entrepreneurship as another field that may create a number of corners for future investment.
She said “the modern technology is highly useful for triggering youth to nurture new start-ups and companies. I believe PITB’s Plan9, PlanX and TechHub Connect may have great potential to work together with the USAID in future to strengthen the youth and women of Pakistan.”