Pakistan Digital Gig Economy Surged 69% Amid COVID19 Pandemic

Pakistan's digital gig economy has surged 69% during the COVID19 pandemic, putting the country among the world's top 4 hottest online freelancer markets, reports  Payoneer, a global payments platform company based in Silicon Valley, in its latest report. Payoneer attributes it to government programs such as Punjab government's e Rozgaar program that has been offering free online courses in digital freelancing. The sudden rush to learn skills online boosted the demand for instructors. The Pakistan government filled this demand by hiring alumni of programs like e Rozgaar who were successfully participating in the gig economy.

Punjab government's e-rozgaar program logo

After a brief dip in January 2020, the demand for freelancers took off in February and increased by double digits each month starting in March until June when it surged 47% at the time the data was compiled by Payoneer for its report.“ Likewise, this response is reflected in the revenue figures where freelancing continued to grow year-on-year but temporarily slowing from 21 per cent growth in March to 16 per cent growth in May,” the report noted. e-Rozgaar’s latest group of graduates earned the highest ever income for a new class of the program--earning over Rs. 25 million in three months during the Covid-19 lockdown. PITB Chairman Azfar Manzoor told Profit magazine that e-Rozgaar was playing a pivotal role in curbing youth unemployment. 

Online Freelance Revenue Surge in Pakistan. Source: Payoneer

“One factor that goes a long way to explain this is that in April, local government authorities took the initiative to rapidly shut down educational institutes as a way to contain the spread of the virus,” the report said, adding that this led to the development of a new online education system and as part of this initiative, government training programs, such as e-Rozgaar, expanded its services throughout the country, offering people a new way to enhance their professional capabilities. “The mission was to help expedite freelancing skills for thousands and enable them to earn a living in the most in-demand fields and ultimately lead to a higher employment rate,” the report highlighted.

A global survey conducted by Payoneer, shows that Pakistani women freelancers are earning $22 an hour, 10% more than the $20 an hour earned by men. While Pakistani male freelancers earnings are at par with global average, Pakistani female earnings are higher than the global average for freelancers. Digital gig economy is not only helping women earn more than men but it is also reducing barriers to women's labor force participation in the country. The survey also concludes that having a university degree does not help you earn more in the growing gig economy. The survey was conducted in 2015.

Freelancers Hourly Rate by Gender. Source: Payoneer


An average Pakistani freelancer working 34 hours a week at $20 an hour earns $34,000 a year, or Rs. 5.7 million a year, a small fortune for a young Pakistani. This is one of the upsides of the online global labor market for skilled young men and women in developing nations like Pakistan. Sometimes freelancing experience leads to tech startups in Pakistan.

Another interesting survey finding is that freelancers with a university degree earn about 10% less on average than those with just the high-school diploma. This indicates that the freelancers skills matter more than the level of formal education.

Average Hourly Rate by Education. Source: Payoneer

Payoneer surveyed 23,000 freelancers worldwide, including emerging markets such as Pakistan, the Philippines and the Ukraine. Survey respondents comprise a random sample of Payoneer’s cross-border payment platform users, providing unique insights into how these globally-enabled freelancers operate, what makes them successful and what rates they command.

Freelancers Average Work Week. Source: Payoneer 

Pakistani freelancers worked about 34 hours a week, a little less than the 36 hours global average. Indian freelancers log 37.4 hours a week and Bangladeshis 35.9 hours weekly. Freelancers from Kenya average the highest amount of hours per week (42.6) with Egypt coming in second (38.5). Professionals working in Morocco and Tunisia work the fewest hours per week, potentially as a high percentage of them are also working at companies as well

Pakistan's digital gig economy growth is the fastest in Asia and fourth fastest in the world, according to digital payments platform Payoneer.

Gig Economy Growth in Q2/2019. Source: Payoneer
United States led gig economy growth of 78% followed by the United Kingdom 59%, Brazil 48%, Pakistan 47% and Ukraine 36%. Asia growth was led by Pakistan followed by Philippines (35%) , India  (29%) and Bangladesh (27%).

The rapid gig economy expansion of 47% in Pakistan  was fueled by several factors including the country's very young population 70% of which is under 30 years of age coupled with improvements in science and technical education and expansion of high-speed broadband access.  Pakistani freelancers under the age of 35 generated 77% of the revenue in second quarter of 2019.

Growth in Freelance Work. Source: Payoneer

Mohsin Muzaffar, head of business development at Payoneer in Pakistan, has said as follows: "Government investment in enhancing digital skills has helped create a skilled freelancer workforce while blanket 4G coverage across Pakistan has given freelancers unprecedented access to
international jobs".

Global Freelance Revenue By Age. Source: Payoneer. 


In Q2/2019, Asia cemented its status as a freelancer hub.  Pakistan, Bangladesh and India, Philippines made it to the  top 10 list, collectively recording 238% increase from Q2/2018.


Online Labor Index. Source: Oxford Internet Institute

Silicon Valley based global payments platform Payoneer has reported that Pakistan's digital gig economy has surged 69% during the COVID19 pandemic, putting the country among the world's top 4 hottest online freelancer markets. A global survey results on freelancing show that Pakistani women freelancers are earning $22 an hour, 10% more than the $20 an hour earned by men. While Pakistani male freelancers earnings are at par with global average, Pakistani female earnings are higher than the global average for freelancers.   The survey also concludes that having a university degree does not help you earn more in growing gig economy. The survey was conducted in 2015. As of 2017, Pakistan freelancers ranked fourth in the world and accounted for 8.5% of the global online workforce, according to Online Labor Index compiled by Oxford Internet Institute. India led with 24% share followed by Bangladesh 16%, US 12%, Pakistan 8.5% and Philippines 6.5%.

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Comment by Riaz Haq on October 10, 2020 at 10:25pm

#Japan to boost efforts to recruit #Pakistan tech workers. Amb Matsuda said in Tokyo there are 300,000 well-trained information technology engineers in Pakistan, both countries will assign officials in embassies to facilitate #tech labor.- The Mainichi

https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20201008/p2g/00m/0bu/106000c

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Japan and Pakistan plan to intensify coordination so Japan can accept technology workers from the South Asian country amid a chronic shortage of workers skilled in information technology, according to the Japanese ambassador to Pakistan.

Kuninori Matsuda, in a recent interview in Tokyo, said there are 300,000 well-trained information technology engineers in Pakistan, and that the two countries will each assign officials in their embassies to facilitate the movement of tech labor.

The ambassador said Pakistan will soon post a diplomat in its embassy in Tokyo to handle tech labor, while the Japanese Embassy in Islamabad will increase staff to connect Japanese companies interested in hiring tech workers with Pakistanis who want to work in Japan. The embassy will also help with visa-related work.

"There's a huge need for them, mainly among small and midsize companies that, despite their willingness to embrace IT, are finding it hard to source workers," Matsuda said.

Following the recent launch of a new government led by Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, Pakistan is looking forward to continuing to make progress with Japan in "dialogue and cooperation in a wide array of areas," the ambassador said.

-----------------

“We are about to open working visa for skilled Pakistan workers. We are planning to hire Pakistani skilled workers in good numbers. We need skilled workers, as our population is shrinking by each passing day. We are to sign an MOU with the Pakistan government in a month’s time, enabling the Pakistan skilled workers to have indefinite visa of Japan,” the ambassador said.

Kuninori said Pakistan was one of the 10 top countries from where Japan was planning to hire workers. ”We need skilled workers from Pakistan, as Pakistanis working there in Japan arevery devoted, honest and skilled and are contributing to the country’s development.”

The ambassador however said that for skilled people there was need to learn Japanese language. “Knowing Japanese language would be a must. It is one of the easiest languages around and easy to get used to.”

He said those who successfully get the visa and pass their first five years in Japan, would be eligible to take along their families with them. A high level exchanges by a prime minister and president would soon be materliased.

https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/543135-new-work-visas-pakistan-amo...

Comment by Riaz Haq on October 12, 2020 at 8:24am

Founded by 3 #Pakistanis (Talha Ansari, Muhammad Nowkhaiz & Wahaj Ahmed), Retailo raises $2.3 million pre-seed for its B2B #ecommerce marketplace in Saudi & Pakistan to help 10 million SMEs retailers in #MiddleEast, North #Africa & #Pakistan https://www.menabytes.com/retailo-pre-seed/ via @MENAbytes

Talha Ansari, Muhammad Nowkhaiz, and Wahaj Ahmed; who previously worked with Careem, Rocket Internet, Daraz, and McKinsey, Retailo wants to empower over 10 million SMEs in the retail sector of the Middle East, North Africa & Pakistan with the use of technology and real-time data. Its marketplace enables will enable the retailer to procure inventory for their stores.

Retailo is starting with small grocery stores in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan which it says is a $100 billion opportunity. It had apparently launched in Pakistan’s largest city Karachi a few months ago and has recently launched in Riyadh too. The startup said that it will focus on Saudi as its home market.

“Retailo’s technology and operations combine to deliver a strong value proposition to retailers, manufacturers, distributors, and wholesalers. It is focused on offering SMEs competitive pricing; a one-stop-shop to discover products and the ability to order whatever they need, whenever they need,” said the startup in a statement.

The biggest highlight of the startup is its team. Talha Ansari, according to the statement was the youngest CEO at Foodpanda (Pakistan), at the age of 25. He later worked with Careem as Senior Director Operations helping the company scale its last-mile delivery business in Saudi. Mohammad Nowkhaiz, prior to founding Retailo was Head of Strategy at Careem and spearheaded company’s super app strategy post-Uber acquisition. Wahaj Ahmed is a former McKinsey consultant who was the youngest Careem GM at 25 and grew company’s business in Karachi by 10x in eight months, claims the statement.

The three founders commenting on the occasion, said, “We strongly believe in creating impact in the lives of people by giving them opportunities to improve their earning potential. The MENAP region has a significant opportunity to increase its economic prosperity by unlocking the productivity delta that exists between the region and global benchmarks. MENAP is home to 700 million individuals & 10 million SMEs; and its unorganized retail sector presents the perfect opportunity to increase the efficiency of supply chain by utilizing technology and real-time data.”

Interestingly, their competition in both Saudi and Pakistan includes startups founded by Careem alumni. Sary, the leading Saudi player in the space is co-founded and led by Mohammed Aldossary, a former Careem general manager. It closed a $6.6 million Series A earlier this year. Bazaar, the Pakistani B2B ecommerce platform that raised $1.3 million pre-seed earlier this year is co-founded by Saad Jangda, who was one of the founding members of Careem Now. Dastgyr, another Pakistani startup going after the same market also has Careem alumni as its co-founders.

Shane Shin, the Founding Partner of Shorooq Partners thinks that Retailo is led by exceptional founders, “Seed stage investing is all about backing the right people. We have looked at this space deeply and are proud to invest in the dream team behind Retailo who we believe can successfully build a strong, regional and international business.”

Khailee Ng, Managing Partner, 500 Durian, said, “While they operate one of the fastest-scaling business models in the world, their success means millions of SMEs and rural populations are more productive and have more stability and food security. Technology can
impact the next billion, and we’re already seeing it here with what Retailo had been doing.”

Comment by Riaz Haq on November 19, 2020 at 6:32pm

Pakistan and World Economic Forum have partnered to launch ‘Parwaaz’, a national accelerator that looks to close the skill gap and create employment opportunities in the country.

https://profit.pakistantoday.com.pk/2020/11/19/wef-psdf-collaborate...

http://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_Future_of_Jobs_2020.pdf

The Punjab Skills Development Fund (PSDF) serves as the secretariat for Parwaaz.

Special Assistant to PM on Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development Syed Zulfiqar Bukhari, along with HBL President & CEO Muhammad Aurangzeb, Engro Corporation President & CEO Ghias Khan, Telenor Pakistan CEO Irfan Wahab Khan, held a press conference on Thursday to discuss the future of jobs in Pakistan in light of a WEF report.

Pakistan has been featured in the WEF’s ‘Future of Jobs’ report for the first time. The Pakistan chapter showcased jobs and skills of the future, highlighting Pakistani employers’ perspectives on new job roles and skills that require attention and investment in the country in the age of technology and automation. The report features in-depth information on 15 global industries and 26 advanced and emerging countries.

Bukhari said the government’s job is not only to provide jobs but also to govern and chalk out policies. It is the responsibility of the government to provide a better environment for the private sector to create more jobs, he added.

At present, the market is full of young people with old skills that have little or no use today, he said. “Young people now need to learn new skills.”

Parwaaz brought Pakistan into the global conversation on skills and the future of work by facilitating WEF with an extensive employers’ based survey conducted with over 50 top Pakistani companies and business leaders across 6 priority sectors. The profile on Pakistan provides a detailed snapshot of the future readiness of the workforce in the country.

The report’s insights reveal that in Pakistan, of the over 82 million working age population, 50pc on average have requisite digital skills, 51pc have business relevant skills, and almost 55pc have acquired education with business relevance. While this looks promising for an emerging country, large challenges remain with 31pc youth not featured in employment, education, or training, and 55pc of the working age population in vulnerable employment.

The results of the Pakistan survey do however have room for ‘measured optimism’; technology adoption especially in the areas of E-commerce, Big Data Analytics and Cloud Computing is high (91pc of the companies surveyed).

Pakistani companies are focusing on cultivating employability skills in the domain of Problem Solving, Critical Thinking, Creativity and Leadership, in tandem with emerging skills in the global market.

The ‘Future of Jobs’ report further highlights the unique economic challenges brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic, while technology driven job creation still surpassing job redundancy over the next five years, the rate of growth in the jobs of tomorrow is reducing.​

This results in a ‘renewed urgency’ to take proactive decisions towards reskilling and upskilling youth workforce. In the absence of proactive efforts, job market inequality is likely to worsen due to the combined effect of technology and the pandemic recession.

The need of the hour is then public-private collaboration at the global and national level, at an unprecedented scale and speed to create socio-economic systems that are more fair, equitable and sustainable.

Comment by Riaz Haq on November 19, 2020 at 6:33pm

The Future
of Jobs
Report
2020
Pakistan

http://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_Future_of_Jobs_2020.pdf

Pakistan Working Age Population 82,345,263

Digital skills among active population* WEIGHTED AVERAGE 2019-2020 50.7%

Attainment of basic education 2017 36.4%

Business relevance of basic education* WEIGHTED AVERAGE 2019-2020 45.6%

Attainment of advanced education 2017 8.7%

Business relevance of tertiary education* WEIGHTED AVERAGE 2019-2020 54.9%

Supply of business-relevant skills* WEIGHTED AVERAGE 2019-2020 51.1%

Unempl. rate among workers with adv. educ. 2018 4.5%

Unempl. rate among workers with basic educ. 2018 2.3%

Share of youth not in empl., educ. or training 31.1%

The survey was distributed via an online platform
through three dissemination networks. The primary
distribution route was to the World Economic Forum
partners and constituents in collaboration with
the World Economic Forum Regional and Industry
teams. The survey was further disseminated through
a network of Partner Institutes—local partner
organizations that administered the survey in their
respective economies. Further dissemination through
partner organizations enabled the strengthening of
regional representation by extending the sample to
local companies. As a third dissemination channel,
the New Economy and Society team shared the
survey with the collaborators from the countries in
which the Closing the Skills and Innovation Gap
Accelerators are present (South Africa, UAE, Bahrain,
India, Pakistan). The Accelerator project brings about
tangible change by building a national public-private
collaboration platform to increase employability of
the current workforce and increase work-readiness
and critical skills among the future workforce.

Comment by Riaz Haq on Thursday

#Pakistan joins #Saudi-sponsored #MiddleEast Digital Cooperation Organization. The group of 7 nations includes #SaudiArabia , #Bahrain , #UAE, #Egypt , #Jordan and #Kuwait. #DigitalPakistan #DigitalTransformation

https://www.reuters.com/article/jordan-gulf-pakistan-tech/saudi-lau...

Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and a group of Middle Eastern countries have launched a new organization to accelerate the growth of the digital economy, a statement from the Saudi communications ministry said on Thursday.

The group, to be known as the Digital Cooperation Organization, also includes Bahrain, Jordan and Kuwait, the statement said.

Comment by Riaz Haq on Thursday

Five nations unite to launch the Digital Cooperation Organization to Realize a Digital Future for All

https://www.spa.gov.sa/viewfullstory.php?lang=en&newsid=2161875

Senior government officials from several nations patronized the launch of the Digital Cooperation Organization (DCO) Thursday – a global organization aimed at strengthening cooperation across all innovation driven areas and accelerating growth of the digital economy. The event was attended by H.E. Houlin Zhao ITU Secretary General and H.E Borge Brende, President, World Economic Forum.
Founded by Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Pakistan, and Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the DCO is driven by a vision to realize a digital future for all by empowering women, youth and entrepreneurs, growing the digital economy, and leapfrogging with innovation.
“We are joining hands together towards a commitment to drive consensus on digital cooperation to make sure that we seize an opportunity for our youth, our women and our entrepreneurs with the ambition to grow our combined digital economy to one trillion dollars in the next 3-5 years,” said H.E. Abdullah Amer Al-Swaha, Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Communications and Information Technology. “Our future prosperity will depend on the digital economy. But it can only reach its full potential if we are able to make governments work together collectively with businesses, and entrepreneurs so they can survive and thrive, expand their depth into current markets and open doors for everyone into new ones.”
The launch of the DCO follows the conclusion of Saudi Arabia’s G20 Presidency to maintain the Kingdom's momentum on accelerating the growth of the digital economy across the region and the globe, as nations everywhere increase their adoption of remote learning, telemedicine and contact-less economic systems to survive and thrive beyond the social and economic impact of COVID-19.
‘’This is a critical step towards ensuring that our digital economies are innovative and future-proof,’’ H.E. Ahmad Hanandeh, Jordan’s Minister of Digital Economy and Entrepreneurship, said. ‘’To create sustainable change, we cannot work in silos; this is a collective and global collaboration. This is where our digital journeys intersect and we can learn from and support one another, which will in turn open doors for our youth and sectors to benefit from these efforts.’’
Based on its digitally-focused charter, the DCO welcomes participation and guidance from the private sector, international organizations, non-government organizations and the academic world.
“The Kingdom of Bahrain is pleased to be part of such a dynamic initiative and a founding member of the Digital Cooperation Organization (DCO). We thank the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for this initiative and are confident that the DCO will enable members to respond and adapt in an agile and swift manner to the ever-changing digital scene. As we have taken steps at a national level to leverage ICT technologies to enhance government efficiency and processes, the Kingdom of Bahrain also believes that fostering regional and international collaboration is a valuable extension to our national efforts,” H.E. Kamal bin Ahmed Mohammed, Bahrain’s Minister of Transportation and Telecommunications said.
The founding members of the DCO have joined forces to establish the organization motivated by their shared interests concerning the digital economy that can only be realized through collaboration.
“We believe that the DCO will offer Kuwait a great opportunity to further develop its national digital agenda as well as to further progress the global digital agenda,” H.E. Salim Al-Ozainah, Chairman and CEO of Kuwait’s Communication and Information Technology Regulatory Authority, said.
Pakistan’s Foreign Minister, H.E. Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi added: “Pakistan is privileged to be a founding member of the Digital Cooperation Organization and to work closely with our partners to guide and lead a global digital agenda.”
On this occasion, United Arab Emirates Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, Digital Economy and Remote Work Applications, H.E. Omar Sultan Al Olama, commented, “We congratulate the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman Al Saud, his Crown Prince, His Royal Highness Prince Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud, and our fellow brothers and sisters, the people of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, for launching the Digital Cooperation Organization, and we praise this step in progressing digital transformation, which will support the broader technology sector. The adoption of both emerging and advanced technologies around the world will support global efforts in creating a sustainable and bright future for all of humanity”.

Comment by Riaz Haq on Thursday

Everything we know about Neom, a 'mega-city' project in Saudi Arabia with plans for flying cars and robot dinosaurs


https://www.businessinsider.com/neom-what-we-know-saudi-arabia-500b...

Saudi Arabia is building a futuristic mega-city called Neom deep in a desert bordering the Red Sea.
The state has pledged at least $500 billion to make it happen, and is soliciting further investment.
Blueprints obtained by the Wall Street Journal detail wild plans for artificial rain, a fake moon, robotic maids, and holographic teachers.
Phase one is due for completion in 2020, with the final brick laid in 2025. It is unclear whether it will live up to its sky-high expectations.
Here's everything we know about the city which Saudi Arabia says will be 33 times the size of New York City.

Comment by Riaz Haq on Friday

UNDP mission to support Pakistan’s digital transformation

https://www.dawn.com/news/1590655

A United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) mission is in Pakistan to support the country’s digital transformation.

Former chairman of National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) Tariq Malik, who is currently the UNDP’s chief technical adviser on digital governance, is spearheading the mission.

Mr Malik, who is advising member states on digital interventions aimed at improving governance, will initiate official mission from Nov 20, following his two-week quarantine.

He will be meeting officials from UN agencies, development partners and key government officials.


Mr Malik will meet, either virtually or in-person, key individuals and their technical staff.

He is also expected to hold meetings with ministers and secretaries of government departments for the purpose.

He is supposed to discuss digital Pakistan policy with IT ministry, role of digital technology in Covid-19 response with National Health Services Ministry and e-payment system with the governor of State Bank of Pakistan.

He is also likely to discuss gender gap and statistics of registration of vulnerable population with Nadra chairman.

The economic affairs’ division has already sent an official memorandum to all relevant ministries, divisions and departments to schedule their meetings with the UNDP official.

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