$50m projects to be run under IDB Science drive: Fawad

Staff Report
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan is working on $50 million-worth projects in the field of science and technology under an Islamic Development Bank (IDB) fund, according to Federal Minister for Science and Technology, Fawad Chaudhry. ‘Islamic Development Bank has fixed a grant of $500 million to be spent for the development of science and technology in Muslim countries,’ Chaudhry said. ‘Initially Pakistan is going to provide $50 million projects for up-gradation of health technology and digitalization,’ the minister said. ‘These digitalization projects include establishing smart villages in different Muslim countries. These villages will have Internet, bio-energy, solar system, and other digital facilities,’ he added. ‘First we will implement it in Pakistan as a model.’ Chaudhry said work had immediately commenced on the projects after his arrival from Saudi Arabia where these projects were discussed during the IsDB-TWAS (The World Academy of Science) workshops in Jeddah from Dec.16 to18. The IsDB established a special $500 million Science, Technology and Innovation Transform Fund (IsDB-STIF) to help its member countries find practical solutions to their key development challenges through the power of innovation. The fund will support the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). ‘Pakistan will have a major share in the fund as the world’ thirdlargest freelance software exporter,’ Chaudhry said. ‘IDB has also established a south-tosouth program, in which Muslim countries can help each other. Pakistan has a major role in the development of science and technology in the Muslim world under the south-to-south cooperation scheme,’ the minister said. ‘Pakistan will help Islamic countries particularly in the fields of information technology, digitalization, biotechnology.’ The chairman of Prime Minister’ Task Force on Science and Technology,Prof. Dr. Atta-ur-Rahman, hailed the IsDB initiative. ‘There is a need for massive investment in science, technology, and innovation, so in this way, this is an excellent initiative of IsDB, but member countries have to utilize it with utmost commitment,’ Rehman said, adding currently, the average expenditure of Muslim countries on science and technology was only 0.46 percent of their GDPs, while it should be at least 3 percent. Dr. Mukhtar Ahmed, supervisor of the general secretariat of the Federation of the Universities of the Islamic World (FUIW) said that the IsDB initiative is in line with the Organization of Islamic Cooperation’ (OIC) science, technology and innovation (STI) agenda. ‘This opportunity should be utilized for impact-based scientific work, which can change the life of the humans in the Muslim world and above,’ he said.