Knowledge economy

Pakistan’s lack of interest in investing in R&D over the years is inexplicable in this high-tech age

November 01, 2020


It needs not be over-emphasised that research and development – also called research and technological development, or R&D – plays a significant role in technological innovation, thereby raising productivity and increasing economic growth. Take the case of China whose R&D spending hit a record high at 2.23% of its GDP in 2019, up by 0.09% from the previous year, according to the National Bureau of Statistics. China aims to become world leader in science and innovation by 2050. It is basically China’s investment in high-tech industries like robotics and aerospace equipment that have raised its potential to surpass the US to become the world's biggest economy in a little more than a decade. To the contrary, Pakistan has, on an average, spent a paltry 0.38% on R&D over the last decade and half which is far lesser that India’s 0.76%. The same figure for Singapore stands at 2.1% which explains why this city-state is bracketed among the Asian Tigers.

Pakistan’s lack of interest in investing in R&D over the years is inexplicable in this high-tech age. The country is still pursuing age-old techniques – in agriculture, industry and services. It appears unaware of the fact that sustained investment in R&D results in technological innovation which helps cut the cost of production, increase productivity and improve quality, thereby contributing to the economic growth. Not just the government, private concerns too look reluctant to invest in R&D. It needs to be understood that such an investment takes a couple of years to produce results in the form of enhanced output because the workforce involved requires time to adapt to the new techniques. If we are to reduce the economic gap with the developed world, we need to adopt a research-based culture and convert our economy into knowledge-based economy.




Published in The Express Tribune, November 2nd, 2020.

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