Engr. Iqbal. P Sheikh, Chief Executive, IN Consult (Pvt) Ltd share his thoughts with Engineering Post
As the world goes through the pandemic of COVID-19, the economies of countries have been tested to their limits. The people have realized that smart industrialization is the only way forward for survival. To look for answers regarding the shortcomings of our industrial setup in Pakistan, Engineering Post went to a visionary and veteran Engineer, Engr. Iqbal P. Sheikh. Engr Iqbal Sheikh has over 40 years of experience which includes about 14 years of utilities and another 26 years of experience in various fields of engineering & management consultancy. As Chief Executive of IN Consult (Pvt) Ltd, he has overseen more than 300 projects related to various fields of Civil, Environmental and Mechanical engineering. IN Consult has worked with all major Federal & Provincial Government Departments of Pakistan, World Bank, United Nations, European Union, GIZ, Pakistan Army, Air Force and various others. IN Consult is registered with Pakistan Engineering Council, SECP, FBR, UNIDO , UNDP, World Bank Group, Pakistan German Business Forum (PGBF).
We asked Engr. Iqbal P. Sheikh to point out some of the problems of our industrial setup and what we need to do to cope with the rest of the world. The figures shared by him were shocking to say the least. Mr. Sheikh started with presenting a comparative analysis of our industry with other countries in terms of exports. For example, in the surgical sector the exports of Pakistan (based on 5 years average) have been 346 Million US dollar out of total 178.6 Billion US dollar all over the World. This makes our contribution about 0.19 percent of the total world export. Similarly, in Electromedical devices Pakistan exported 1.31 Million US dollars’ worth of products out of the total 91.20 Billion all over the world. “With these figures even if we have 2% growth, our projected exports by the year 2030 will be 450 million which is nothing when compared to the world growth which is expected to be 800 billion dollars,” explained Mr. Sheikh.
With the enhancement of research in Medical science the overall lifespan of a person has increased significantly. But this increase brings with it additional expenditures on the health of a person. This is a growing industry and needs to be tapped on priority basis. “With some investment in this sector our country can get billions of dollars in taxes for the country. For example, capital cost for establishing hospital beds, glucose meter, autoclave, infant incubators & catheters is Rs. 6.7 Billion which have direct, indirect & induced impact to GDP of around Rs. 8.2 billion, has potential to employ more than 5000 people and get tax benefit of more than 1 Billion rupees for the country. The return on investment is also very significant,” he said. “And this is just one sector. We can work on multiple setups like implants production, along with hospital equipment and get substantial benefit” he added. Mr Sheikh further deliberated that” PIDC & TUSDEC are making positive contribution in Industrial Technology Upgradation and Skill Development.”
In the opinion of Engr Iqbal P. Sheikh, the three main requirements for the revival of industry in Pakistan are the utilization of the latest technology, development of skilled labour, and conservation of energy. “Instead of using manual labor, if we start using proper machinery, we can increase our efficiency by 6 to 10 times,” he said. But the main problem starts here. Which machinery to use and where to get it? Mr. Sheikh clarified the underlying problem here with a simple example. “A few years back air conditioners used 16 amperes of electricity. Nowadays, more or less the same amount of cooling can be produced by using approximately 4 amperes. That is why we need to utilize the latest technology in the industry for efficient production,” he said. This will not only decrease the load on our country by decreasing the circular debt but also encourage the expansion of industry because the operational cost of the machinery will decrease by a huge margin.
But here lies the problem. In our country we import the scrap from different countries and try to use this equipment in our industrial setup. This is beneficial to them because they are getting rid of redundant and obsolete technologies but it can be very damaging for our industrial setup. It not only hampers the ability of our industry to produce latest quality products, it also utilizes more energy for its operation. This acts as a burden to the industry and limits its growth. “This obsolete equipment/machinery is used by our labor force for their “skills development” when the reality is that they are trained on rather outdated equipment.”
Mr. Iqbal P. Sheikh greatly emphasized on the environmental aspect of industrialization. He pointed out that if we get our certifications according to the different environmental pacts (Paris accord, Montreal protocol) we will be able to receive grants for our projects enabling us to increase industrialization without utilizing our own money. “If we design our projects around the Montreal protocol or other significant environmental pacts we can get good amount of grants. We just need to be vigilant and align our strategies to avail such wonderful opportunities.,” he said.