The Digital Youth Summit (DYS) 2019 — an annual tech conference focused on youth empowerment and bringing together local and global experts on a common platform — took place in Peshawar this past weekend, and the Code for Pakistan (CfP) team was in attendance to lend our support to the organisers, who have also been wonderful long-term partners for various CfP initiatives and programs: the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Information Technology Board (KPITB), the World Bank and JAZZ.
Code for Pakistan has been a long-standing partner of DYS, supporting KPITB as a community partner for all its editions of DYS. In 2015, one of Code for Pakistan’s Fellowship teams went on to raise investment during the conference whereas another team received a significant grant for their civic startup in the same year. In 2017, our former Fellowship Manager, Ali Khan participated in the panel, “Promoting Government Innovation”, while in 2017, our current Fellowship Manager, Ebtihaj Khan, presented case studies of our Fellows and their innovations. Last year, Code for Pakistan partnered with KPITB and JAZZ to conduct a Digithon (digital hackathon) and also set up a stall to showcase our Fellowship projects and build awareness around civic tech.
It gets better every year, and 2019 was no different. As always, DYS was incredibly well-attended, with a variety of sessions, talks and workshops on digital government, digital big data, the role of technology in economic growth, media and digital marketing, innovation, tech entrepreneurship and much more. The CfP team and our Fellows actively participated in the conference, with the Fellows showcasing projects they have worked on at the DYS Expo, including Assami, KP’s online job portal, and Assasay, a public-asset management system. DYS provided an excellent opportunity for our Fellows to network, engage with industry stakeholders, and share their work with a wider audience. We are also working with KPITB on the KP Official Business Portal, through the Fellowship program.
Peshawar is also home to one of our flagship programs, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Government Innovation Fellowship Programs, and the CfP team from Islamabad had a session with this year’s Fellows and learned more about the projects they are developing in collaboration with a number of local government departments to help improve citizen-facing public service delivery.
What began as a pilot program between KPITB, Code for Pakistan and the World Bank in 2014 has grown into a full-fledged Fellowship Program over the past five years. From 12 part-time Fellows, we have grown to an annual cohort of 20 Fellows who work 40 hours a week to create innovative solutions in public service delivery, enabling the government to meet its citizens where they are. 70 Fellows have graduated from the program so far, creating 21 applications. The applications developed in the third and fourth batch of the Fellowship have facilitated over 200,000 users since January 2019 alone, saving over 1,400 government hours and disbursing PKR 10.8 million to citizens that need it most.
Conferences like DYS enable us to come together, reflect on our growth and learnings and commit to a stronger and more successful future. We have returned refreshed, with new ideas and a greater resolve. As our Fellows deep dive into completing their applications and work closely with the government to have them adopted by the departments over the next few months, we can’t wait to see their hard work translate into meaningful impact on ground, facilitating both government and citizens in the heart of KP.
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