Karachi: The 6th Edition of The Future Summit concluded on Thursday with eminent foreign and local delegates speaking on diverse topics aimed at recommending a futuristic direction to the corporate sector, policymakers, and stakeholders of the country. Hosted by Nutshell Group, the Summit continued to explore the realm of disruption at a local hotel in Karachi.
The first panel discussion focused on innovating the future. It was moderated by Usman Yousaf, Director, Nutshell Communications; Chairman, ProPakistani; Co-founder, K-Cap Ventures and CEO, Interactive UAE. The panelists included Michael Hartmann, Chief Business Officer, Fintech Galaxy; Anna Tutova, CEO, Coinstelegram, public speaker, Fortune Media Journalist; Dereck Hoogenkamp, CEO, Yalla Limited and Partner, Aeroverse; Dr. Rehan Al Taji, Founder & CEO, PXDX FZ LLC, UAE and Partner & Head of Projects; Muhammad Zeeshan Abid, Partner Advisory, Parker Russell AJS & Board Member, InvoiceMate, UAE. They highlighted the importance of digital future, and implications of various digital technologies that have disrupted the industries for a better tomorrow, such as Artificial Intelligence, metaverse, blockchain. The sum of the conversation was how these can be utilized to the best advantage.
Mohamed Abdel Razek, Chief Technology & Operations Officer, Middle East & Africa, Standard Chartered Bank, addressed the audience, highlighting the changes in technologies and the disruptive elements driving these changes, and how financial institutions are transforming to meet new needs.
This was followed by a panel discussion on the need for disruptive technologies, moderated by Jimmy Nguyen, CEO, Blockchain for All. The panelists included Muhammad Salman Anjum, Founder & CEO, InvoiceMate, UAE; Vasilisa Marinchuk, Director of International Relations, Centre Blockchain of Catalonia; Neil Ford, Director of Growth, Big Dog Mining, USA; and Saeed Mohammed AlHebsi, Advisor in AI, Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation, UAE. Speaking about the metaverse, Vasilisa Marinchuk said, ‘The Metaverse does not exist to replace the real world, it is to extend it.’ Having spent more than 12 years in the UAE, Muhammad Salman Anjumsaid, ‘In Arab countries, you do not work with projects or investors; you work with people.’
The next address, ‘Finding the Bright Spots’ had Farrukh Amin, Chief Executive Officer, Unity Foods Limited, talking about food security issues and aligning product lines with 21st century digitization.
The next panel discussion was moderated by Dr. Shamshad Akhtar, Chairperson, Pakistan Stock Exchange, SSGC & Karandaaz. She mentioned the challenges faced by Pakistan today, ‘The level of foreign exchange reserves is worrisome. Inflation is at a historic high. PSX market capitalization is at the slowest. Policy inconsistency has eroded the confidence of investors. The growth has faltered in the face of frequent economic disruptions.’ The panel included Najy Benhassine, Country Director Pakistan, The World Bank; Maroof A. Syed, President & CEO, CERP and Fellow, Julis-Rabinowitz Center for Public Policy & Finance, Princeton University; Dr. Amjad Waheed, Chief Executive Officer, NBP Funds; and Ali Khizar, Head of Research, Business Recorder. What followed was an insightful discussion of solutions in the circuit of technological development. Najy Benhassine said that the introduction of taxes on land and properties should be increased in major cities of the country as part of the much-needed economic reforms. Talking about the land tax, Maroof A. Syed, said, ’We have to understand our priorities. We have the resources and the money and it is being invested in real estate. It is not productive. Raising land tax sends the signal to the market that we must invest in other areas that enable growth of industry.’
Speaking about the structure of the debt, Ali Khizar, said, ‘You cannot restructure the IMF debt. As long as we remain in the IMF program, we don’t need a formal restructuring of the domestic debt. But if we don’t do anything about it, we will be forced to declare a default. And then we will be forced to reprofile the debt; and that is a sensitive and scary topic.”
Dr Amjad Waheed also focused on the need to broaden the scope of national security beyond military security. ‘We must focus on energy security, food security and human security,’ he said.
The eighth session titled ‘Emerging Issues’ began with an address by Mohammad Shoaib, CFA, Chief Executive Officer, Al Meezan Investment Management Limited, who said, ‘The focus of Islamic Finance is on value addition in the form of goods or services.’
Group Chief Business Solutions Officer, PTCL, Zarrar Hasham Khan, focused on important issues around oppression, scarcity and inequality, disease and overcrowding, environmental destruction, and constant surveillance. ‘When we talk about disruption, Pakistan is severely triggered by these factors. It is not the availability of technology but the disparity in technology that we must prepare for. We must learn to create our own Utopia to combat Dystopia,’ he added. He also highlighted areas of innovation deficiency, healthcare inadequacy, financial exclusion, and information dissymmetry.
Dato Merina Abu Tahir, Council Member, ACCA; Director, Tenaga Nasional Berhad and SP Setia Berhad, Malaysia, emphasized on sustainability to make a meaningful difference in the world.
The next panel session titled Diversity, Equality & Inclusion, included, Wafa Makhlouf, Executive Director, CEED Tunisia; Sadaffe Abid, Founder & CEO, CIRCLE; Vice Chairperson Pakistan Microfinance Network; Shafqaat H. Shah, Senior Director Commercial, S&P Global; and Tanzeela Hussain, Global HR Business Partner, British Council.
‘We need to nudge the system, not just in organizations but at homes too, in order to encourage resilience,’ said Sadaffe Abid. Furthermore, Shafqaat H. Shah highlighted the need for females to lead, ‘It does not make business sense to not have diversity. We ensure that our diverse workforce performs to the fullest, and we invest in the future to streamline our talent.’
The highly energized presentation by James Michael Lafferty, CEO & Board Member, Fine Hygienic Holding Olympic Coach, Speaker & Corporate Trainer, on how to think like a championengaged the audiences.
Michael Kugelman, Director, South Asia Institute, The Wilson Center, Washington, elaborated on the essence of disruption in the context of geo-strategic regional cooperation.
The address by Air Chief Marshal Sohail Aman (Rtd), Pakistan’s Chief of Air Staff (2015-2018) and Chief Executive Strategic Engagements, Nutshell Group, focused on key takeaways from the Summit. He said, ‘Disruption is not about technology and businesses only. Disruption is needed in the public sector for good governance. A good handshake between the public and private sectors is required to make progress. And that is what the primary mandate of Nutshell Group in creating these platforms is.’
Senator Dr. Musadik Malik, Minister of State, Ministry of Energy, closed the Summit with his take on the importance of economic transformation and industrial development to pull Pakistan out of its multi-faceted challenges.
TFS 6th Edition, with two days of intense discussions and collective thinking, created a vibrant platform, with promises for a bright future.