Ministry of Education and Higher Education Hosts Huawei Seeds for the Future 2023 Qatar Week Finale

After a week-long endeavor, Huawei successfully concluded its first phase of the esteemed “Seeds for the Future” program, which was open to university students from the Middle East and Central Asia.

Huawei kicked off the first phase of the 2023 Seeds for the Future Program in Doha, Qatar, on September 3rd, 2023.

Around 175 students hailing from the Middle East and Central Asia (ME and CA) gathered in Qatar. Huawei’s Seeds for the Future program is the company’s flagship CSR program that aims to develop ICT talents globally.

The Ministry of Education and Higher Education hosted the final ceremony of Huawei’s Seeds for the Future program 2023, honoring the winners of the first phase of the program at its headquarters on September 9.

Held under the patronage of Qatar’s Communications Regulatory Authority (CRA), the regional event aims to develop local talent, share knowledge, increase the ICT sector awareness, and foster a digital community for young ICT talents.

The students participated in eight days of intensive training sessions and workshops in Qatar, which covered cutting-edge ICT technologies, scientific and technological leadership, discussions on global topics, Tech4Good group projects, etc.

Through learning and mutual exchange, participants gained a better understanding of 5G, Artificial Intelligence (AI), and cloud technologies, built more strengths for future growth, and improved their competitiveness in the job market. Students also visited the exhibition hall at Huawei’s headquarters in Qatar, the National Spectrum Monitoring Center at CRA, Mada Lab, the Education City, Lusail Stadium and a tour of Doha.

The 2023 edition of the competition witnessed the participation of students from elite universities representing 15 countries in the region, including Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE, Bahrain, Kazakhstan, Oman, Uzbekistan, Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, Azerbaijan, Mongolia, and Kyrgyzstan.

Nine students from Pakistan, including Atiya Sarwar, Sher Khan, Ahmad Younas, Tayyab ur Rehman Rathore, Reema Memon, Zultaif Hassan, Aiza Irfan, Muhammad Farrukh Tahir, and Hamid Muzaffar Khan, participated in this year’s Seeds for the Future program, alongside their mentor Hamza Najam.

Throughout the week, the students participated in various workshops led by Huawei’s team as part of the Seeds for the Future program. These sessions encompassed intensive training in cutting-edge ICT technologies, fostering scientific and technological leadership, engaging in discussions on global issues, collaborating on Tech4Good group projects, and more.

The first phase of the Tech4Good regional competition, aimed at empowering and engaging the youth in driving positive change within their communities, was also held in parallel. P

Participating students presented their Tech4Good projects to the judges, and seven outstanding teams of 40 students were selected to move on to the second phase of the Tech4Good program, which will be held in Dubai, UAE, from 10-16 September 2023.

These teams represent Qatar, UAE, Jordan, Uzbekistan, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, and Azerbaijan. Two tutors from Oman and Iraq were honored during the program for their leadership skills.

Two mentors, Ammar Khalid Mohammed Al-Siyabi from Oman and Zomurd Ahmed Alhamdani from Iraq were selected as favorites. Ammar was chosen for his strong leadership skills, unwavering belief in the vision, effective communication, and high energy.

Meanwhile, Zomurd was recognized for his resilience, quiet yet impactful leadership style, adept handling of complex situations, and his positive influence on the team’s dynamics.

Atiya and Ahmed from Team Pakistan were honored as the Social/Shining Stars within their respective teams and received awards from Huawei.

Alex Zhang, CEO of Huawei Technologies LLC, said,

Following the second phase of Tech4Good regional competition in Dubai, UAE, the winners will then qualify to compete in the final global competition in China against other teams from around the world. The students will jointly explore ICT’s huge potential to drive sustainable development.

Winners from the Tech4Good Global Competition will be invited to the Tech4Good Startup Sprint in China, where they will visit Shenzhen, Beijing, and other cities to experience real-world entrepreneurial environments and compete for a startup support fund of US$100,000.

The program has been endorsed by more than 450 senior officials and heads of states.

Hamid Muzaffar Khan, a participant from Pakistan in the event, expressed that the Huawei Seeds for the Future program not only encourages cultural exploration in the MECA region but also offers invaluable guidance in refining startup pitching skills, boosting our confidence in articulating our ideas.

Sher Khan, a student from Karachi, Pakistan, described Huawei’s flagship program SEED for the Future as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for students. It enables them to showcase their talents on the global stage and learn about cutting-edge technologies such as 5G, cloud computing, digital power, and Tech4Good—a corporate social responsibility initiative that empowers students to demonstrate their creativity in addressing social issues.

In the view of Pakistan’s mentor, Hamza Najam, Huawei’s offering stands as a remarkable chance for students to foster their skills in this competition. It not only provides a significant platform for skill development but also facilitates extensive exposure as students from diverse countries in the ME and Central Asia region come together. Hamza Najam also extended his best wishes to them for their future endeavors.

Atiya Sarwar, Aiza Irfan, and Reema Memon shared their life-changing experiences, encountering diverse cultures, innovative problem-solving methods, and the invaluable opportunity to collaborate with peers from around the world. Together, they expressed their gratitude to Huawei for this remarkable journey.

Huawei’s Seeds for the Future program is the company’s flagship CSR program that aims to develop ICT talents globally. With an ever-increasing emphasis on innovation and technological advancements, this competition offers a unique platform where these young minds can exchange ideas, network with international peers, and gain valuable insights into the ICT sector that will shape their future and promote their participation in the digital community. Since its launch in 2008, more than 15,000 students have participated from 139 countries worldwide.

The program makes a significant difference in the world by equipping young individuals with the knowledge, skills, and experiences necessary to thrive in the digital age.

By offering students access to cutting-edge technology, training, and international exposure, Huawei empowers them to become future leaders and innovators in the global tech industry.

This program not only fosters talent but also promotes cultural exchange and collaboration among students from diverse backgrounds, contributing to a more interconnected and understanding world.

Furthermore, initiatives like Tech4Good within the program encourage participants to apply their skills to address pressing social issues, amplifying the positive impact of technology on society. In essence, Huawei’s Seeds for the Future plays a pivotal role in shaping the next generation of tech professionals and driving positive change on a global scale.

Source: Pro Pakistani

Caretaker Finance Minister Announces to Rollover Foreign Deposits

Caretaker Finance Minister Shamshad Akhtar, during a press conference in Islamabad on Friday, announced to roll over deposits from other countries upon their maturity.

The statement came after a meeting of the Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC), where Akhtar stressed the need to revitalize Pakistan’s economy and lift import restrictions across the board, given Pakistan’s import-intensive nature.

Regarding foreign exchange reserves, Akhtar stated that it is a top priority. She reassured that the situation is currently “reasonably okay” and explained that discussions are ongoing to ensure timely inflows and rollover of existing deposits upon maturity.

Akhtar also noted that the flow of dollars into the country is not unusual, given the necessity to open up imports for industrial revival, declining exports, and a shortfall in remittances. She stated that the precise amount of inflows would require further discussions, but for the full year, they hoped for cumulative inflows of close to $6 billion from various sources.

She also highlighted discussions with multilateral development banks such as the World Bank (WB) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB). She hoped to fast-track the process and mentioned an upcoming review by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in November, which could lead to the release of the second tranche of its program with Pakistan, along with tranches from the ADB and loans from the WB.

Akhtar also stressed the government’s “whole-of-government” approach to the finance ministry’s divisions, emphasizing collaboration and holistic operation as a team to manage the economy effectively.

The finance minister outlined the government’s efforts to jumpstart the economy and enhance the social safety net through structural adjustment reform programs. She emphasized the importance of financial inclusion and its potential to empower citizens, the agriculture sector, and small and medium enterprises.

Source: Pro Pakistani

Banks to Finally Offer Loans to PIA After Government Intervention

The government has convinced private banks to extend credit lines to the beleaguered Pakistan International Airlines, as announced by PIA’s official Twitter handle on Saturday.

These funds would be used to clear long-due payments of aircraft and engine leases, spare parts support, and handling payments at foreign stations. Restructuring of the airline is also on the cards.

Pakistan’s national flag carrier is grappling with severe financial constraints, struggling to meet interest payments let alone address the principal debt. The anticipated injection of funds is set to commence next week and the management has outlined plans to allocate funds for critical purposes.

Just three days ago, Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq emphasized the urgent need for restructuring the struggling flag carrier. The Economic Coordination Council (ECC) on Thursday constituted a separate committee to assess the restructuring plan for PIA. Once formulated, this plan will be presented to the Economic Coordination Committee for consideration.

PIA is likely to incur Rs. 112 billion in losses in CY23, up from Rs. 80 billion during the previous year. CEO Air Vice Marshal Amir Hayat stated last month that the carrier is under Rs. 742 billion of debt and the yearly losses may exceed Rs. 253 billion by 2030 while they are focusing on running it as a public-private partnership post-restructuring.

However, it’s worth noting that the future of PIA is set to remain a topic of ongoing debate. The government is facing criticism for focusing on restructuring PIA instead of privatizing it. It will face strong resistance from union leaders who believe that selling PIA would lead to deteriorating working conditions for staff and a potential decline in service standards for passengers.

Source: Pro Pakistani

Pakistan Races to Address Saudi Arabia’s Investment Fears

Saudi Arabia has voiced concerns about the safety of its potential investments in Pakistan, especially those in the gold and copper mines of Reko Diq. This has spurred Pakistan into urgent action, looking to secure much-needed investment funds, reported Express Tribune.

Last month, a Saudi team visited Pakistan to discuss funding big projects in the country. However, they want a few things cleared up first.

Key military officials in Pakistan were briefed on these concerns during a top-tier meeting of the Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC). In response, Army Chief, General Asim Munir, has called for a plan to pull in this foreign investment, asking the caretaker government to tackle any barriers.

Pakistan hopes to attract a hefty $60 to $70 billion in investments under the SIFC’s watch over the next 3-5 years. It is eyeing about $25 billion just from Saudi Arabia. The Saudi team had pointed out specific issues they wanted to be sorted out during their visit.

Saudi Arabia is interested in a variety of sectors, including mining, power, agriculture, minerals, and plasma products. A major issue is the difficulty foreign investors face in transferring their profits out of the country. The State Bank of Pakistan is being restrictive with the US dollar due to low foreign exchange reserves, which is not sitting well with current and potential investors.

Saudi Arabia is also examining the safeguards in place for its investments and how disputes would be resolved. It is seeking additional benefits for its investment, although it is unclear what these might be.

Two large Saudi firms, Aramco and ACWA Power, are particularly interested in projects ranging from oil refineries to renewable energy.

The SIFC was established to help Pakistan’s economy by attracting foreign investment and reducing the country’s reliance on foreign loans.

However, old-fashioned procedures and bureaucratic red tape are slowing things down. To address this, top officials, including the interim Prime Minister, Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar, are taking action.

There has been a push for the early commencement of the Reko Diq project, with the goal of including Saudi Arabia sooner. Plans are underway to have the regulatory framework in place by next March. Saudi Arabia is keen on a multi-billion-dollar stake in this project.

For the Reko Diq project, the SIFC has greenlit the hiring of certain advisers, both local and international. These advisers will assist in the project’s financial and legal aspects. Plus, negotiation teams are being set up to hash things out with Saudi Arabia.

Source: Pro Pakistani

Transport Fares Continue to Rise Worsening People’s Suffering

Commuters faced yet another blow on Thursday as transport fares experienced their third increase within a month.

Pakistan Railways initiated the latest round of fare hikes by raising cargo goods rates, including parcels and motorcycles, by five percent. Meanwhile, the metro bus ticket costs between Islamabad and Rawalpindi surged from Rs. 30 to Rs. 50, with the fare to New Islamabad Airport climbing from Rs. 50 to Rs. 90. Although the increase has been approved, the official notification is expected next week, at which point the new fares will be enforced.

Public transport within and around the city has elevated stop-to-stop fares to Rs. 60. Longer routes have also witnessed fare increases, with the Raja Bazar to Soan Camp fare rising by Rs. 100. The new fare from Rawalpindi to Islamabad will be Rs. 130, and the Faizabad to Secretariat fare has jumped to Rs. 100. Minimum fares for intercity travel have also surged by Rs. 200.

This surge in transportation costs is the third within a month. On August 15, railways increased fares by 10 percent in response to escalating fuel prices, and on September 1, fares rose by five to eight percent due to further hikes in petroleum product prices.

As a result, Pakistan Railways has imposed restrictions on passengers, preventing them from carrying birds, chickens, or bags exceeding 20 kg in the trains. Passengers can now transport these items by paying separate cargo booking fees.

The economic implications of the fare hikes are evident across various services. The cost of a Tezgam train ticket from Rawalpindi to Karachi in the economy class has surged to Rs. 3,350, while business class now costs Rs. 7,600 and AC Sleeper class fares have reached Rs. 11,000. The rise in cargo fares for railways has made them nearly as expensive as road transport.

The increased petrol prices have also impacted motorcycle-hailing services like Bykea, causing fares to almost double for the same distances, frustrating users. Additionally, goods transportation delivery charges to inner-city shops, including groceries, plumbing, furniture, vegetables, and fruits, have surged by 40 to 50 percent.

Despite the growing burden on commuters, the Regional Transport Authority (RTA) has not yet addressed the recent spike in transport fares, leaving many to grapple with the escalating travel costs.

Source: Pro Pakistani