Optimism Ahead: Digital-Industrial Solutions Drive Pakistan Forward
By: Sarim Sheikh
President & CEO, GE Pakistan
Earlier this week in Islamabad, we held a customer event with more than 100 attendees, during which we talked about how digital-industrial solutions can have a big impact on accelerating Pakistan’s growth. While the power of the Industrial Internet is exciting in itself, I couldn’t help notice, in conversations with customers and stakeholders, the optimism about what’s happening in the country.
Given the global context, the growth projection for the Pakistani economy looks strong with the IMF recently giving an upbeat assessment, forecasting real GDP growth in excess of 4.5% this year.
However, the positive mood is not just about these macro numbers, but also about what people were seeing happening all across the economy. As the IMF noted, investment is rising, the country’s energy supply is improving and sectors such as construction are expanding.
Our customer event – titled “Building for Tomorrow: Digital-Industrial Infrastructure for Accelerated Growth in Pakistan” – fit this narrative of optimism and forward-looking opportunity. The event consisted of panel discussions, exhibits and technical seminars addressing the development and financing of infrastructure, with a particular focus on digitization. The topics and case studies were developed especially for those in the infrastructure, power and oil & gas sectors.
This digital-industrial intersection, what we call the Industrial Internet, can play a big role in the country’s ongoing evolution and support further growth acceleration. We are sharing with customers the opportunities that come when we bring together big industrial machines and systems, the data flowing from their sensors, data analytics and people at work. GE forecasts that globally, Industrial Internet productivity gains will reach US$8.6 trillion for industrial companies in the next 10 years – more than twice the future value of the consumer Internet.
In Pakistan, such efficiency gains, applied to the power sector, could add up to 600 megawatts (MW) to Pakistan’s grid using existing power generation assets and no extra fuel. In fact, these solutions are already being put into practice here.
Pakistani pioneers in the power sector
We have partnered with several independent power producers over the past two years, including Sapphire, Engro Powergen and Saif – to implement Industrial Internet solutions at their facilities in a manner that will improve efficiency and output. These partnerships have been so successful in delivering real savings and revenue that we have signed two new agreements recently, achieving 100% fleet coverage for our 6FA power plants.
These are great proof points of what we are doing to become a digital-industrial company and also an important reflection of the technological sophistication among companies in Pakistan, and their openness to innovation and sense of vision; as the first of these projects was not just the first of its kind in the region, but also the first of its kind globally in the power sector.
This is important for the Middle East, North Africa, Turkey and Pakistan region, helps explain the mood at our event and proves that the Industrial Internet will be extremely important to companies and economies going forward. I am glad that our partners in Pakistan want to be at the forefront of this trend.
Taking stock of the GE Store
Also during the event, we were able to give attendees a sense of the tremendous potential and benefits the “GE Store” could bring to our customers. We showed how we have organized the company so that every business in GE, across every country we operate in, can share and access all the technology, markets, structure and intellect existing within the global organization.
Pakistan International Airlines is a local example, where we have brought a breadth of resources in aircraft engine technology, repair and maintenance, financing and leasing.
Additionally, we previewed several major projects that GE is implementing in collaboration with partners in the country. Each one will have a significant impact on their industry or the broader economy. Among them, we are bringing our 9HA gas turbines to the Bhikki Power Plant this year. These are the world’s largest and most efficient heavy-duty turbines and will make Bhikki the most efficient power plant in the country.
We will deliver 55 Evolution Series locomotives to Pakistan Railways to haul essential freight such as coal. The result of almost US$600 million in investment and 10 years of development, these locomotives are the only ones in the market today to meet stringent US Tier 4 level requirements.
We also announced an important US$50 million investment in Pakistan that will go toward local manufacturing, clean energy projects and the formation of a state-of-the-art monitoring and diagnostics and training center – where we will build the skills needed for the digital-industrial world of tomorrow.
GE is transforming into a digital-industrial firm and seeks to be a top-10 software company by 2020. Like Pakistan itself, we are on the move. As such, we’re working together with local partners and our large on-the-ground presence to transfer knowledge, build local capabilities and foster innovation. As was clear from countless conversations during our customer event, GE, as well as our customers and partners, share an optimism and expansive view of what we can achieve together in Pakistan for Pakistan.