Govt to facilitate gaming and animation startups, says Haque

Our Correspondent
Sunday, Oct 10, 2021

Pakistan can be one of the key regional players in gaming, animation and multimedia industries through training, mentorship and skill development of youth, and facilitating gaming and animations startups with incubation programmes that can help those startups transform into successful and sustainable businesses.

Federal Minister for Information Technology and Telecommunication Syed Aminul Haq said this on Saturday while addressing the signing ceremony of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between a firm, Ignite, and the University of Karachi (KU).

As per the agreement, Ignite will set up a Centre of Excellence (CoE) at the KU to house a vertical incubator, training facility, production studio and co-working space for promotion of animation, VFX and game development across the country. The centre is expected to start operations in six to eight months.

The MoU was signed by KU Acting Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Khalid Iraqi and Ignite Chief Executive Officer Asim Shahryar.

Speaking on the occasion, Haque said the world should know that the Pakistani youth were on a par with the youth of other countries in terms of adapting to new creative forms and would take their due share from the current global market of $370 billion of the animation industry.

He said the estimated size of the global animation industry was about $370 billion and it was expected to increase to $642 billion by the year 2030.

The federal minister remarked that it was imperative to match pace with the fast-paced technology domain.

“One may question Pakistan’s current market share in this big market? The answer is a rather embarrassing ‘nothing’,” Haque said. “This does not mean that our young people are below par in competency or skill to anyone in terms of creativity and innovation, but the fact is that these young people have never been able to access such facilities that can help augment their talent,” he added.

He informed the event that in view of these issues, the ministry of information technology was now committed to providing the youth with facilities, infrastructure and training.

“The CoE will bring a paradigm shift in reviving up research and innovation in gaming, VFX [visual effects], computer vision and AI through a robust ecosystem in collaboration with tech partners, industry, investors, associations and government, and will bolster indigenous product development while propelling the growth of tech entrepreneurship in the country,” said Haque.

He also called on the Federal Board of Revenue to revise and expand the tax definition of IT.

He also thanked ISPR Director General Major General Babar Iftikhar for supporting the IT ministry at all levels. He said that his ministry and ISPR were working jointly in promoting the animation ecosystem that would help create jobs for the youth. “We conceived this idea for developing this industry in Pakistan which has a potential to grow and compete with the rest of the world,” he added.

Sharing details regarding the project, Shahryar said the centre would be set up in the building of Sheikh Zayed Institute on University Road in collaboration with the KU. He added that an area of 28,000 square feet had been earmarked for the centre that would be larger than any incubation centre in Pakistan and unique in terms of facilities.

He said the total cost of the project was Rs2 billion, of which Rs1 billion would be spent on equipment and facilities and the remaining Rs1 billion on the expenditure for five years.

Dr Iraqi said that in the developed industrialised world, universities were deemed as an engine of growth in knowledge-driven economies.

He assured the federal minister and Ignite that the proposed centre on animation would be completely supported by all the hardware and software expertise available at the KU.

IT Secretary Dr Muhammad Sohail Rajput, ISPR Sindh Director Brig Jahangir Ahmed and academics also attended the event.