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What is Creativity Worth to Pakistan Economy: $100 Billion?

IRSHAD SALIM (Islamabad) — Researchers have found that creative industries provide a significant contribution to youth employment and careers and are open to people of all backgrounds and ages.

Small businesses and individuals are key, and give rise to innovative and agile employers and workers.

Creative industries also employ more people than the automotive industry in the United States, Europe and Japan combined. While the auto industry is capital intensive and feeds on consumerism, creative industry is comparatively not that capital intensive and acts as a “Tylenol” while contributing more in value-addition–more bang for the dollar spent or exported.

In 2015, the global revenue from creative industries exceeded those of telecommunications services (which comes in at $1,570 billion), and even surpassed the entire GDP of India ($1,900 billion).

So where does the creative industry stand in our economy? For now, it’s the Cinderella but has the potential to become the Darling if considered by thought-leaders. Our past (1960s to 1970s) show a streak of success but could not be monetized from export point of view for discomforting reasons.

Fast forward, and I read about Pakistani freelancers doing extremely well in animation, video games, etc. and emerging as one of the fastest growing economic culture of the Pakistani youth.

Creative industry does not only mean music and films—it is vast, nebulous and seamlessly sponges with corporate growth now a days and is expected to be one of the key drivers in future’s global economy. I call it one of the non-conventional exports hitherto untapped by us.

Creativity is worth a lot to Pakistan economy. In my opinion, this economy has the potential to grow to a $100 billion benchmark if we all puts our heads together with resolve, focus and a team approach.

We can no longer afford turf wars and gerrymandering of ideas, initiatives on policy-making and operational level which governments have been facing for a decade now.

We ought to create a set of niche and market them just as Israel has done–knowledge-based which addresses futuristic issues of environment, water, agriculture, technology, etc.

Imagine, if the arms export of Pakistan can jump at corvette speed from approx US$20 million to US$300 million in 6 years (2012-2018), our creative industry could also stampede–there’s no hindrances globally unlike defense export.

So what’s stopping us from doing so? Why not take a second look at options available on the table to enable and facilitate our youth, female and the small businesses in Pakistan.

To me, it seems Pakistan is a perfect match for these attributes combined. Successive governments have been trying to address the vast youth and female demography economically. Add to that the several initiatives launched over the years to encourage small businesses and startups, and the use of creative industry as an enabling platform could become a home-run.

In Europe, cultural sectors employ people between the ages of 15 and 29 more than any other sector; they also have more women participating in them than traditional industries. Statistics compiled by the government of the United Kingdom show that women accounted for more than 50% of the people employed in the music industry in 2014, compared with 47% in the overall active population.

In the United states, artists are 3.5 times more likely to be self-employed than the rest of the US working population, according to the study conducted Ernst & Young and jointly presented by UNESCO and the International Confederation of Authors and Composers Societies (CISAC).

The study analyzed 11 CCI sectors in Europe, North America, Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and the South Pacific region, focusing on everything from architecture and advertising to television.

(The writer is a business & construction consultant, analyst, and Editor-in-Chief of PKonweb, DesPardes and BE2C2 Report and presently based in Islamabad)






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