LONDON: Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif Tuesday said that with more than 1.5 billion people, over 835 million youth and a combined GDP of $ 6.6 trillion, the Islamic nations have much to offer the world, both in economic contribution as well as socio-political philosophies.
Islamic world is spread over a landmass- which is one-third of the world, the Prime Minister said while addressing the 9th World Islamic Economic Forum (WIEF) here.
“These countries are inheritors of rich traditions of trade and cultural exchanges through the centuries, from highlands of north-eastern Eurasia to vast boundaries of Europe and Africa, both through the historical silk route and deep waters of Arabian and Mediterranean seas”, he said.
The Islamic world comprises a population of more than 1.5 billion people which is 23 % of the world population, including more than 835 million youth under the age of 24 years.
The Prime Minister said the Islamic World has a combined GDP of $ 6.6 trillion, which is only 8 percent of the world GDP, adding, “Our countries are spread over a landmass which is 1/3rd of the world and possesses vast amount of world’s natural resources.”
“We connect East with the West yet our exports are only 14 % of the global exports. Average GDP per capita in 57 Islamic countries is $ 4,900 which is slightly less than half of the global average of $10,400”, he said and expressed his anguish that “despite the sporadic efforts over the last 50 years, we have failed to realize our true potential.”
Nawaz Sharif underlined the need to make sustained efforts for rapid social and economic development of our people and contribute towards growth in the world economy.
“However, we need to identify the factors, which are inhibiting growth in Islamic countries and also learn from the experiences of those who have spearheaded the journey of development in the last few decades”, he added.
The Prime Minister said in his view, “there are five important transitions for which we need to make accelerated progress in our countries.”
“First, apart from responsible exploitation of our physical resources, we need to focus on Human Resource Development and scientific advancement.”
“Today only 1% of scientific research articles are produced in Muslim countries while according to European authors of History of Science, almost ninety (90%) percent of scientific literature during Middle Ages was published by Muslim scientists,” he said.
Second, the Prime Minister said, “we need to quickly move from mere consumption to increased production of economic goods and services.”
“Third, we must transform our natural resource and cheap labor-based economies to private sector-led and value-added economies”, he added.
The Prime Minister said, “Fourth, we need to adopt inclusive and collaborative growth models to provide for a wider spread and benefits to our people.”
“Last, we need to focus on transparent and merit based governance with greater focus on performance and service delivery. We must remember that information revolution has exposed our people to global benchmarks in development and quality of life”, he added.