NADRA to Modernization Nigeria’s Advanced National ID System

In a significant step toward expanding its global presence, Pakistan’s National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) has strengthened its strategic partnership with Nigeria’s National Identity Management Commission (NIMC). This collaboration marks a milestone for NADRA, positioning it as a key player in providing identity solutions to large populations in Pakistan, Nigeria, Kenya, and Somalia.

The recent development in this partnership involves a new agreement focusing on the modernization of Nigeria’s existing middleware solution. Facilitated by a recent contract between NIMC’s Project Implementation Unit (PIU) and NADRA, this initiative aims to enhance the efficiency, security, and interoperability of Nigeria’s National ID System. The comprehensive pre-assessment and recommendations set the stage for leveraging cutting-edge technology to strengthen Nigeria’s National Identity system.

This collaboration, rooted in a trusted partnership spanning over 15 years, reflects the commitment of both NIMC and NADRA to fortify their operational frameworks for a more secure and efficient identification system. The recent meeting between high-level delegations from NADRA and NIMC in Abuja signifies their joint efforts to synchronize project timelines and align key objectives, ultimately advancing their shared goal of building robust and technologically advanced identity management systems.

The Director General/CEO of NIMC, Engr. Abisoye Coker-Odusote, expressed full support for NADRA’s outlined goals during the meeting, emphasizing the positive outlook for the future of this partnership. Beyond the formal agreement, this contract underscores NADRA’s commitment to international cooperation, technology transfer, and knowledge exchange, solidifying Pakistan’s crucial role in advancing global digital initiatives.

HBL and Visa announce Winners of First Edition of She’s Next program in Pakistan

  • Five winners were announced for She’s Next, Visa’s global platform dedicated to women entrepreneurs at an awards ceremony in Karachi
  • Hira Javaid, CEO of Foster Learning wins People’s Favorite Award
  • Winners receive US$10,000 grant each, a tailored training program by Katalyst Labs, and access to the She’s Next Club.
  • An independent committee selected winners from almost 2,500 applicants across a variety of sectors, from training to education, advertising to professional services, beauty and online retail.

 

Visa, a world leader in digital payments, together with HBL, Pakistan’s leading Bank today, announced five winners of Pakistan’s inaugural edition of the She’s Next program,  Visa’s global platform dedicated to supporting women in their efforts to fund, run and grow their small businesses.

Winners included Ziana Sakhia, CEO & Cofounder of Bechlo, Sadaf Rehman, Cofounder of CodeSchool, Rida Zainab, Cofounder of Porter Pakistan, and Ayesha Awan, Cofounder of SocialBlu. The program also included a People’s Favorite award, where members of the public voted online for their favorite finalist, Hira Javaid, CEO of Foster Learning.

Winners were chosen from a pool of almost 2,500 applicants from a range of sectors including textiles, education, food and beverage, professional services, beauty and wellness within Pakistan. The five winning woman-owned small businesses received a US$10,000 grant each, along with a tailored training program by Katalyst Labs, and access to the She’s Next Club where they will have access to multiple resources including a workshop library and a community of entrepreneurs for mentorship.

A jury evaluated entries based on the progression of the applicant’s entrepreneurial journey, the robustness of their business metrics, their digital presence; and demonstrated ability to confidently solve problems. The members of the jury included: Carl Manlan, Visa’s Vice President for Social Impact in Central Europe, Middle East and Africa (CEMEA), Maya Inayat Ismail, Chief of Staff to the Chairman and Chairperson, Sustainability Forum – HBL, Aatif Awan, Founder and Managing Partner of Indus Valley Capital and Sheema Sultan, CEO of Core Gym.

Leila Serhan, Senior Vice President and Group Country Manager for North Africa, Levant and Pakistan (NALP), Visa, said: “We are thrilled to announce the winners of our inaugural edition of She’s Next in Pakistan and recognize the ambition and confidence of these women entrepreneurs. We had a tough job selecting our finalists from almost 2,500 exemplary Pakistani women, and our judges had an even harder job picking our winners tonight. This is just the tip of the iceberg, and our hope is that we continue working with our partners to  empower this inspiring community of women entrepreneurs.”

Aamir Kureshi, Head Consumer, Agriculture & SME Banking – HBL, said: “HBL is proud to be the exclusive partner of Visa for the She’s Next global program in Pakistan. The program aims to support and empower women entrepreneurs on their path to financial success. This initiative further supports HBL’s commitment to uplift women entrepreneurs in the country. While we have five winners from the 10 shortlisted, the Bank acknowledges and celebrates the exceptional spirit of all 2,500 applicants, each a winner in their own right. HBL is committed to shaping the financial industry of the country.  In this regard, SME’s and in particular women businesses will remain a key focus area for us.”

Since 2020, Visa has invested around US$ 3.8 million in over 380 grants and coaching for women SMB owners through the She’s Next grant program globally including in US, Canada, India, Ireland, Ukraine, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt and Morocco.

Spotify Announces Natasha Humera Ejaz as EQUAL Pakistan’s Ambassador of the Month

Spotify’s second EQUAL Pakistan Ambassador for 2023 has been announced and the artist who has lit up EQUAL’s digital billboard at Times Square NYC is none other than Natasha Humera Ejaz. A singer and actor who began her career at the slender age of 7 will have her beautiful track “Khud Se Batein” featured on Spotify’s EQUAL Pakistan playlist as part of the celebrations.

Natasha’s journey as an artist began with PTV when she was only seven years old. However, her debut single “Today is a place” came out in 2010, propelling her into the mainstream music industry. Since then, she has had a rousing journey, not only producing some incredible tracks to woo her audiences but also lending her vocals to Mehru in the much anticipated animated film ‘Allahyar and the Legend of Markhor’.

“I never realized until EQUAL Ambassador of the Month actually happened what it feels like to have my voice amplified on the global stage.” stated Natasha Humera Ejaz while voicing her excitement at the achievement. “I do what I do because I can’t think of another way of living, and to have the opportunity to share what I’m passionate about with the world and simultaneously turn up the volume on all girls is a huge privilege,” she added.

Many of Natasha’s tracks are crowd favorites while several of them have been nominated for coveted local accolades. Songs which include the likes of “Till the end of time” and “Khwab” have both been recognized for their vocal prowess. Moreover, her track, “God in me”, which narrates her own story is another sensational melody that moves listeners.

Expressing her views on the announcement, Rutaba Yaqub, Senior Editor for Pakistan, Sri Lanka & Bangladesh stated:”Natasha Humera has been blessing the industry with her music for as long as I can remember. She has inspired and supported so many of her fellow artists along the way. We at Spotify are excited to have her as an EQUAL ambassador, giving her the mic to speak louder about women’s equity in the music industry.”

EQUAL Pakistan, the signature platform from Spotify which highlights some of the most resounding female artists in the country, is close to completing its first anniversary of taking some incredible local talents international.

MMBL wins ‘Most Innovative Microfinance Bank’ at the Global Business Outlook Awards 2022

Islamabad: Extending a winning legacy that spans over a decade, Pakistan’s largest digital bank, Mobilink Microfinance Bank Limited (MMBL) has been awarded the title of “Most Innovative Microfinance Bank – Pakistan 2022” by the prestigious Global Business Outlook (GBO) Awards 2022. The award highlights MMBL’s continuous efforts to enhance access to innovative digital and financial solutions across Pakistan.

GBO is a UK-based publication dedicated to covering vital industry sectors such as banking, insurance, brokerage, finance, and disruptive technologies by celebrating individuals and organizations around the world that have made significant impacts in their respective markets with an emphasis on value addition and innovation. Being presented with this accolade cements MMBL’s key role in transforming the banking ecosystem in Pakistan by building smarter, more effective financial solutions for its growing clientele.

Addressing this recent achievement, President & CEO MMBL, Ghazanfar Azzam said, “We are honored to receive this distinguished recognition from GBO that corroborates our innovative efforts to provide customer-centric, affordable, and simplified digital financial solutions. Pakistan’s rising smartphone and internet penetration has indeed opened new avenues for digitization and we are committed to utilizing these to help revolutionize banking and enable increased access to seamless services.”

Also sharing his thoughts, Chief Finance & Digital Officer MMBL, Sardar Mohammad Abubakr stated, “Being internationally recognized as the ‘Most Innovative Microfinance Bank’ in Pakistan is a testament to our success. The Bank’s efforts, for the last decade, have been concentrated on uplifting the unbanked and underserved segments of society, especially women entrepreneurs and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs). MMBL not only offers an array of innovative solutions through its expansive digital financial ecosystem but is also dedicated to training its borrowers through specialized training and skills development workshops under the Women Inspirational Network (WIN) program. We are determined to serve all underserved and unserved people through equal and ample opportunities for financial independence.

With over 40 million registered users, including 15+ million monthly active mobile wallets and a network of 196,000+ branchless banking agents, MMBL is dedicated to harnessing the power of technology and encouraging innovation in the banking sector. The Bank’s specialized products and services, such as Women Inspirational Network (WIN) and DOST App facilitate individuals, especially women-owned businesses, to grow financially. MMBL recognizes that a substantial proportion of Pakistan’s economy is built on the efforts of small businesses and is confident in the ability of the microfinance sector to serve as an engine for their growth. Moving forward, the Bank aims to bridge the prevalent financial gap by enabling every individual and business, especially those living in remote and hard-to-reach areas, to gain access to formal financial services with ease.

Fatima Fertilizer receives international gold-standard acclaim for best HSE performance

Lahore: Fatima Fertilizer recently received an international acclaim by the International Fertilizer Association (IFA) through the Green Leaf Award that recognizes outstanding performance in safety, health and environment (SHE) in fertilizer production among the association’s members and is an integral part of its protect & sustain product stewardship initiative.

The honor was claimed by Fatima Fertilizer by marking the first runner-up position in the nitrogenous fertilizers category of IFA’s prestigious 2022 Green Leaf Award for showcasing excellence in the overall management of safety, health and environment (SHE) in the fertilizer manufacturing operations. The exalted IFA Green Leaf Award is considered a global gold-standard by fertilizers manufacturers around the world and awarded by the IFA being the only global fertilizer association having 400 members in 70 countries around the world.

An independent panel of experts diligently evaluate all performance indicators in accordance with the awards’ evaluation criteria before the most deserving winners are selected. These global recognitions encourage and enable companies to strive for the highest standards of safety and well-being in the workplace and also help to protect the environment. The award is hosted after every two years and receives overwhelming interest by all member organisations, including a record number of 25 eligible applications for 2022.

While speaking about this achievement, Mr. Fawad Ahmad Mukhtar, CEO Fatima Fertilizer said, “We are proud of this achievement and will remain committed to our continued efforts towards becoming a global leader in practicing HSE management systems to ensure the safety and well-being of our employees.”

Pakistan High Tech Companies vow to strengthen national defense

Karachi: “Pakistan High tech sector is committed to upholding the highest level of defense preparedness”, was stated by Dr. Haroon Qureshi, President of Pakistan Aerospace Council in his speech at a dinner hosted in honour of Air Marshal Shahid Hamid (Retd) and Air Marshal Arshad Malik (Retd) for their lifetime achievements and services to Pakistan Aerospace & Defence Sector.

Air Marshal Muhammad Mughees Afzal, Chairman Pakistan Aeronautical Complex, Air Marshal Ahmed Hassan Marwat, Deputy Chief of the Air Staff (Engineering) and Executives from 25 member companies of Pakistan Aerospace Council also attended the event.

Mr. Imtiaz Rastgar, Convener PAeC in his welcome speech, paid rich tributes to Air Marshal Shahid Hamid (Retd) and Air Marshal Arshad Malik (Retd) for their life time achievements and services rendered to Pakistan and Pakistan Aerospace & Defence Sector. He pointed out that collaboration between Pakistan Aerospace & Defence Sector and the private tech industry could lead to indigenization and save a huge amount of foreign reserves.

Dr. Haroon Javed Qureshi, President PAeC in his speech highlighted the depth, potential, know-how, skills and manufacturing capabilities of PAeC member High Tech companies. Expressing PAeCs gratitude for the two national heroes, he said, we need more Shahid Hamids and Arshad Maliks for a potent and self-reliant Pakistan.

Executives of PAeC member companies comingled with the former and current PAF leadership and discussed with them the potential, manufacturing capabilities and processes their companies possess.

The current and former PAF leadership was impressed to learn about the manufacturing skills of PAeC member companies and reiterated that their skills and services could be further utilized to meet the challenges faced by Pakistan Aerospace & Defence Sector. Chairman Pakistan Aeronautical Complex invited PAeC member companies to visit PAC, Kamra for further collaboration. Mr Imtiaz Rastgar suggested having a joint seminar, in this regard, at Islamabad in near future.

Engro Fertilizers highlights the role of Pakistan towards promoting regional food security at Expo 2020 Dubai

Karachi, Tuesday 22 Feb: Engro Fertilizers, Pakistan’s premier seed-to-harvest solutions provider, hosted an insightful dialogue at Expo 2020 Dubai to highlight the food security situation in the Gulf and the potential partnership opportunities with Pakistan to overcome the regional food security challenges.

 

The panel comprised global agricultural and industry experts including Dr. Abdul Rashid (IFA Laureate), Charles Schneider (International Finance Corporation), Ayman Alwadhy (The Corporate Group, UAE), Wasim Halabi (Foodco National Foodstuff Co PJSC), Fredric Favre (MAS Seeds, France) and Khusrau Nadir Gilani (Engro Fertilizers). The event was also graced by Mr. Hussain Dawood (Chairman of Engro Corporation and Dawood Corporation), Mr. Shahzada Dawood (Vice Chair, Engro Corporation), Ghias Khan (President & CEO of Engro Corporation) and Nadir Salar Qureshi (CEO of Engro Fertilizers), along with other members of the Engro leadership team.

 

The expert panel pointed out that food security in the Gulf region is a growing challenge due to high dependence on food imports, increasing water scarcity, climate change and supply chain interruptions. In 2020, the region’s share of the acutely food insecure global population was 20%, which is disproportionately high compared to its 6% share of the population. By forging partnerships in the agricultural sector with large established sustainable agri-base countries, like Pakistan, the region can benefit from enhanced agricultural output to overcome its food security challenge.

 

There is significant potential to increase Pakistan’s agricultural output with focus on modern technology, seed quality, balanced use of fertilizers, and uplift of infrastructure across the agri value chain. It was noted that if average farmer yields are brought at par with those of progressive farmers within the country, Pakistan will see a dramatic increase in wheat and rice production serving not only the needs for domestic consumption, but also create significant surpluses for exports to the Gulf-Region. The Government of Pakistan was also applauded for its efforts to improve water provision and farm economics, resulting in an increase of approximately 1.6 million hectares in area under cultivation with further growth anticipated with large irrigation projects underway.

 

According to Nadir Qureshi, “To bridge the agri yield gap and enrich crops with essential nutrients, Engro Fertilizers has introduced innovative products and seed-to-harvest solutions, farmer upskilling programs, access to expert advice by leveraging technology, and free of cost soil testing laboratories. We hope that this dialogue will serve as an initial step to encourage Pakistan, Engro and Gulf entities to work together to jointly develop innovative solutions and explore the scope for international partnerships in the agri space.”

 

The panel discussion concluded that the food and agriculture sector can be an engine of economic growth for both the Gulf region and Pakistan. Through the adoption of technological innovation and sustainable practices, the agricultural sector of Pakistan can be transformed to reduce dependence on food imports, create surpluses to drive significant exports and meet the Gulf regions’ dietary nutrition requirements.

President Arif Alvi awarded Pakistani Teams for winning Prizes in Huawei ICT Middle East Competition 2021

The Award Distribution Ceremony for Huawei’s ICT Middle East Competition in collaboration with The Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication of Pakistan was conducted at the President House in Islamabad. President of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, Dr.ArifAlvi, Secretary Telecommunication and Information Technology Dr. Sohail Rajput, Vice President of Huawei Middle East, Mr. Wang Shun Li, CEO of Huawei Pakistan, Mr. Mark Meng, the winning Pakistani teams, along with other officials from MoITT and Huawei Pakistan were all present at the occasion.

The competition is a Huawei annual ICT initiative, designed to nurture global ICT talent. Over the month of October, Huawei’s Talent Ecosystem team carried out multiple roadshows at more than 134 universities, hitting a registration number of 10,150 candidates. 8 excellent students were interviewed after regional training and the top 6 qualified for Regional Exam which was scheduled to be held from 21st – 23rd Dec in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The final round of the competition witnessed the participation of 11 teams from countries covering the entire Middle East Region.

On 23rd Dec, Pakistan’s team consisting of Sateesh Kumar, Iqra Fatima, and BhagchandMeghwar along with their instructor Dr. Faheem Khuhawar Instructor won 1stprize of 20,000 USD. Not only so, the 2ndprize was also grabbed by Pakistan’s team two consisting of Hafiz Rizwan, Adnan Ali, and Mukhtar Muhammad along with their instructor.

President Dr. ArifAlvi, speaking at the closing ceremony of the Huawei ICT competition here, saying” I am aware of the cooperative arrangement of the Huawei Academy with about 80 different universities in Pakistan to develop and groom young talent. I also appreciated companies like Huawei for training a large number of students in the field of information technology, noting the international companies wanted to create an ecosystem for harnessing talent. I believe that ten million people would get jobs in the information technology sector in the future.”

Secretary Telecommunication and Information Technology Dr. Sohail Rajput reiterated the sentiment, saying, “First of all, I congratulate all the Pakistan excellent talents won this ICT competition final. This shows we have the talents, the youths and energy which can bring a lot of things for Pakistan. If we want to increase our exports and reduce our trade deficit, the only way is invest to our youths because this is our biggest asset. And Formula investing in youth and talent is the IT. Under president’s leading and put more investment in the ICT sector, we can easily get our target in short future.”

After everyone viewed a short video summary of the competition, Mr. Wang Shunli stated at the ceremony, “This is the super competitiveness that Pakistan will rely on the youths who are equipped with ICT technology most in the future. For this mission, I really hope to be able to count on this partnership with all of you, together we can drive the digital transformation of Pakistan and help to develop the next generations of local ICT talents to boost Pakistan’s digital economy.”

Sateesh Kumar, a member of Pakistan’s team that clutched the first prize was grateful for the opportunity, saying, “In my first attempt, I could not qualify for the finals but that didn’t come in the way of my drive, I tried harder & pushed my limits, added more skills and gave a second attempt in which I made my nation proud. Huawei gave us a wide range of opportunities through which my team and I can revolutionize our world, starting with Pakistan.”

Spotify and Coke Studio Pakistan partner to celebrate the nation’s voices through an official destination

The world’s most popular audio streaming subscription service joins forces with the sound of the nation, Coke Studio Pakistan, to launch an official Coke Studio: Pakistan destination dedicated to 2022’s much-awaited music show.

Under this partnership, Spotify is now the official music streaming partner for Coke Studio Pakistan this year. With this inked in, the artists of Coke Studio Pakistan will have a place to share their music with Spotify’s 381 million users and connect with a global audience across 184 markets.

Starting today, Spotify will be home to an immersive musical experience celebrating Season 14 of Coke Studio Pakistan coupled with all previous seasons. Available for Free and Premium users on mobile and desktop Spotify app, the collaboration between the two music culture powerhouses brings users the content they love, making it easier than ever to listen to their favorite tracks from the wildly popular format. The destination features a variety of playlists including: Coke Studio Pakistan,Women of: Coke Studio Pakistan,  Best of: Coke Studio Fusion, Best of: Coke Studio Sufi, Best of: Coke Studio Pakistan and more.

Khan FM, Artists and Label Partnerships for Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh at Spotify said, “We are extremely excited to be a partner on the journey of Coke Studio Pakistan’s latest season. Coke Studio is a household name across Pakistan and has cultivated the love for different genres at a regional level year after year. As their official music streaming partner, we look forward to creating a memorable and enhanced listening experience for our Pakistani and South Asian listeners as they browse through our collaborative destination.”

Fahad Ashraf, VP Coca-Cola Pakistan and Afghanistan said: “This season, Coke Studio is coming back in a brand new avatar, celebrating Pakistani culture synced with Gen-Z. We see the Spotify partnership as the perfect medium to bring this fresh Pakistan fusion to listeners globally.”

The season is set to air from 14th January on television channels in Pakistan and you can check out the destination here, which is available in the United Kingdom, United States, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, India, Japan, UAE, and Saudi Arabia.

Pakistan Railways launches Pakistan’s first ever ‘Reefer Freight Train’

As a major breakthrough in national logistics & cargo infrastructure, Pakistan Railways successfully launches country’s first ever Reefer Freight Train aiming to provide more economical and environment friendly freight solutions.

According to details, Marine Group of Companies in collaboration with Pakistan Railways achieved the milestone by operating Pakistan’s first ever containerized refrigerated train in Dec 2021 which departed from dry port of Marine International Container Terminal (MICT) Prem Nagar, Lahore and arrived at Wazir Mansion Karachi.

This intermodal cold chain solution enabled by ‘Pakistan Railways Freight Transportation Company (PRFTC) who facilitates the rail infrastructure operated by ‘Pakistan Intermodal Limited’ (PIL) and CMA CGM Pakistan providing commercial support for this new cold chain corridor.

From the past 05 years Pakistan Intermodal Ltd is playing a pivotal role in operating containerized freight trains in Pakistan and realizing the potential of Reefer containers, operated Pakistan’s first ever reefer block train carrying 24 Units – 40 feet reefers of CMA CGM Pakistan from MICT – Dry port at Prem Nagar – Lahore to Wazir Mansion Karachi and transported the Reefer boxed through PakGo trucking short haul services to Karachi Port completing the journey successfully.

The new operational phase begins with one train a week with plans for this service to operate twelve trains in a month. Freight trains can minimize the delivery time and reduce emissions to the atmosphere of greenhouse gasses. On average, railroads are three to four times more fuel efficient than trucks. That means moving freight by rail instead of truck lowers greenhouse gas emissions by up to 75%, on average.

As more and more road-based reefer cargo finds its way to more economically and environmentally viable options. Pakistan Intermodal Limited (PIL) reefer block train system can generate billions of rupees annually in revenue for Pakistan Railways if the containerized freight trains are operated on schedule.

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