Pakistan: Partnering for a better future

Pakistan: Partnering for a better future
June 28, 2016 at 01:06pm

In many parts of the world today, progress comes more from unexpected partnerships and innovation than from the old business as usual. GE has been a committed partner in Pakistan’s growth story for more than 50 years. GE-built technologies generate more than 25% of Pakistan’s electricity; GE and GE joint venture engines power more than 60% of the aircraft operated by Pakistani commercial carriers and our activities are creating employment opportunities for people across the country.

Whenever I interact with the Pakistani business community, the opportunity and potential in the country are striking.This feeling was reinforced again at the 4th US-Pakistan Business Opportunities Conference held recently in New York City, where I was a guest speaker.I had the opportunity to meet with Pakistan’s Minister for Commerce, Khurram Dastgir Khan, as well as leading members of the US-Pakistani business community. There was a palpable sense of optimism across the board, with much investor interest in the country.

Pakistan’s growth outlook is strong and business confidence is rising. The government is committed to increasing transparency, improving the ease of doing business and addressing security concerns and this is reflected in the current environment. However, as the world’s sixth-largest country, with a growing population of over 180million people,Pakistan needs to develop even faster to meet the growing demands of its people. Today, Pakistan needs jobs for its youth; factories that demand energy; efficient modes of transportation; easier access to affordable, quality healthcare; and new skill sets to keep it competitive in the global economy.

This will require a solid foundation of strategic infrastructure and digital solutions-especially in power, water, transportation and healthcare-as well as new investments in technology and local capacity building and an ongoing commitment to transparency.Pakistan offers tremendous opportunity for those who are willing to take calculated risks, establish partnerships for growth and offer innovative solutions that meet specific local needs.

We are moving to the next generation of digital technologies and have positioned ourselves as the world’s digital industrial company. We are pursuing partnerships with technologically savvy Pakistani companies with a strong vision for the country’s growth and we’re making big bets on solutions that make sense in Pakistan.

Collaborative partnerships boost progress in infrastructure requirements Success in Pakistan is significantly boosted by collaborative partnerships within the private sector, with each player bringing a different strength to the table to leapfrog the rate of progress they would have experienced with the usual ways of doing business.

Energy is increasingly becoming digital. We have been supporting Pakistan’s energy sector for more than 50 years with both hardware and software solutions. We continue to deploy our advanced digital industrial solutions in the country, underscoring our commitment to provide Pakistan with our latest technology. As part of our new approach, we recently established a digital-industrial alliance with Engro, one of Pakistan’s leading conglomerates. Engro will resell GE Power digital solutions to Pakistani power producers. But our partnership goes one step further – both Engro and GE will jointly develop new software applications on GE’s Predix cloud platform for industries not currently served by GE in which Engro has deep domain expertise, such as the food, fertilizer and petrochemical sectors.The alliance will help multiple industries in Pakistan become part of a global digital power transformation that is expected to create $1.3 trillion in value between now and 2025.

Local context is key My role involves oversight of our global operations and activities, and I recognize that one thing that is critical to success in a market is local knowledge and expertise. Companies looking to succeed in Pakistan need to be truly great local companies. They have to be fast and responsive to solve local – and sometimes urgent – needs.

Providing healthcare in challenging geographic locations where many lack access to fully equipped hospitals and trained service providers is an issue relevant to many countries. Large healthcare equipment can have complicated interfaces, or require too much power to be usable. GE is introducing its pocket-size ultrasound, the V scan, to provide more practical care. When connected to a cell phone with an internet connection, medical teams working remotely can share results with experts in cities, improving treatment and care in remote regions such as Pakistan’s Northern Areas or rural locations without access to tertiary healthcare services.

Companies need to work together and in cooperation with the government to deliver infrastructure solutions that are both affordable and appropriate. This requires in-depth understanding of local requirements, and investment in local capacity.

Reducing risk to get deals done While local problems require local solutions, they also require capital. By a recent estimate of the State Bank of Pakistan, the country needs to invest about 10 percent of its GDP until 2020 to close the infrastructure financing gap.

The public sector’s ability to fill this gap on its own is quite limited and new tools to reduce risk and access global capital markets are becoming an important part of the mix. GE is increasingly tapping funds from new sources to help its customers, made easier as local governments commit to transparency measures that improve the ease of doing business and address security concerns. With these improvements as a backdrop, we brought together multiple institutions, including the US Export-Import Bank, the Islamic Corporation for the Insurance of Investment and Export, as well as Citibank, to create a financing package that will help PIA overhaul its aircraft engines.

I strongly believe that the future holds limitless possibilities for Pakistan. You have the resources, the talent and the desire to succeed and I have no doubt that together, in partnership with the government and committed local partners, we can all build a better, more prosperous tomorrow for future generations of Pakistanis.

This article was originally posted on Business Recorder.

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