Encouraging job-oriented business imperative for poverty alleviation, economic prosperity

PESHAWAR: The career options vary from person to person as per their choice, as some would opt only for government jobs, others would try their luck to get settled abroad, and some would go only for entrepreneurship-to become job creators instead of job hunters. Initially, it does not seem easy to launch a business as it carries the possibility of financial risks, but it is also possible to generate handsome revenue, as was true for Akhsaar Ali (38) who lived a satisfied life after entering the solar panel business in Peshawar, where he employed six laborers for assistance. Known as Akhsaar Lala in the solar penal market at Dalazak Road, the motivated youth wakes up early in the morning and comes to his shop after performing fajar prayer and breakfast along with his two younger brothers, Tariq Ali and Younas Khan, before going for installation. 'I entered the solar panel business in 2010 after my several applications were rejected by the public and private organizations owing to lack of professional exper ience, and I rented a shop for Rs 1000 per month at Pabbi, Nowshera, after seeing the people's positive response towards the installation of solar panels in the wake of long hours of load-shedding in the peripheries of Peshawar and Nowshera districts,' he told reporter. 'Following the early death of my father, Noorzada Khan, I left my education incomplete at graduation and knocked on the doors of different government organizations and NGOs for jobs, but my applications were not considered due to a lack of professional experience. Keeping in view the financial constraints of my family, I immediately started selling and purchasing solar panels at a small shop in the main bazaar of Pabbi tehsil of Nowshera district to support my widowed mother and meet the educational needs of my two younger brothers, who were under heavy loan burden due to the expansive treatment of my ailing father,' said Akhsaar while loading solar panels in a pickup brought by his brothers, Tariq and Younas, from Karkhano Market, a hub of solar and electronics goods in Peshawar. 'In recent years, the demand for solar panels has increased manifolds due to the widening of the demand-supply gap of electricity, as a 650-watt panel was being sold at Rs 50,000, 610 watts at Rs 47,000, 550 watts at Rs 40,000, and 450 watts at Rs 32,000 in the Karkhano market,' he said, adding that earning in every business was primarily dependent on timely actions and initiatives besides the required surplus money. In summer, he said the solar penal business shines, while in winter's profit is comparatively low due to its lesser demands. Akhsaar is planning to expand its business to Punjab, Dubai, and Afghanistan due to its huge market demands' there. 'Pakistan's industrial future is linked with solar and wind energy, and the time has come to divert financial resources to bolster these renewable energy resources to create jobs for youth,' said Zilakat Khan Malik, former Chairman of the Economics Department, University of Peshawar, while talking to the news agency . He said that Pakistan has several well-known wind corridors with average wind speeds of 7.87 m/s in about 10 percent of its windiest areas, which are most suitable for energy generation. He said one of the reasons for the high rate of unemployment and lack of business growth was the shortage of energy in Pakistan, adding that by utilizing just 0.071 percent of the country's area for solar photovoltaic (SP) power generation besides Karachi and Balochistan coastal areas, wind could meet the country's growing electricity demand easily. 'The significance of solar and wind energies has increased in Pakistan after its energy shortfall touched a record 8500 MW this year, necessitating urgent expansion of solar and wind power to at least 30 percent of the country's total electricity generation capacity by 2024, which is equivalent to around 24,000 megawatts.' Dr. Zilakat Malik said that the expansion of renewable energy resources would not only make electricity cheaper but also achieve greater energy security a nd reduce carbon emissions, helping Pakistan to save up to USD 5 billion over the next 20 years. Dr. Malik said that the Alternative and Renewable Energy Policy 2019 report of the National Transmission and Dispatch Company (NTDC) has confirmed that Pakistan's target to increase variable renewable energy (VRE) to 30 percent of its electricity by 2030, magnifying higher penetrations of solar and wind energies, would be economically beneficial in terms of job creation and overall production of industrial units. He said that work on all ongoing energy projects should be expedited after the World Bank commitment of about $425 million in financing to the National Transmission Modernization Project, aimed at increasing the capacity and reliability of selected segments of the national transmission system in Pakistan and modernizing key business processes of the NTDC. He said the National Solar Energy Initiative was approved in September 2022 by the then government to produce 10,000 megawatts of electricity through solar energy projects that would help reduce the import bill of costly diesel and furnace oil, besides meeting the country's utility and business sector requirements. The SMEDA spokesman said that over 400 pre-feasibility studies were prepared to bolster self-employment and the SME sector in the country, including KP. Besides preparation of National SME Policy 2021, he said that about Rs 89.24 million were allocated for pre-feasibility studies of air conditioner and generator rental service centers, Rs 7.94 million for bread and biscuit manufacturing units, Rs 51.75 million for dairy farm beneficiaries having 25 cows helping them establish environmentally controlled shelters, and Rs 166.64 million for the setting up of shelters for dairy farms with 100 cows to bolster milk and dairy businesses in the country, including Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The first phase of the Rashakai Special Economic Zone (RSEZ) has been completed under CPEC within six months of the scheduled time, aimed at promoting business and employm ent and turning KP into a hub of trade and investment. Phase I of RSEZ encompassed 247 acres of modern facilities designed to attract domestic and foreign investors, spurring economic growth and job creation for a skilled workforce. Phase I housed 18 zone enterprises, with seven being under construction and mobilizing an estimated investment of Rs 85 billion. Different projects were launched in the second phase of RSEZ that would generate approximately 250,000 jobs for the youth of KP.

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