SDSB’s Faculty Dr. Shakeel Sadiq Jajja Wins CPEC-Collaborative Research Grant by HEC
An intellectually stimulating environment, colleagues with breakthrough ideas, and support from the leadership make the Suleman Dawood School of Business (SDSB) at LUMS an ideal place for research for its faculty.
“I’ve never been at a loss of intellectual discourse and support at the School. Having colleagues like Dr. Syed Zahoor Hassan and Dr. Usman Khalid who complement others, were key in conceptualising the pilot project and putting the proposal together, respectively, for one of the biggest grants awarded at the School by the Higher Education Commission (HEC),” explains an excited Dr. Muhammad Shakeel Sadiq Jajja, Associate Professor of Operations and Supply Chain Management, Director of Executive MBA, and Founding Director of MS in Supply Chain and Retail Management at Suleman Dawood School of Business.
All praise for the luxury of time provided at the School to work on research, he also appreciates the ‘trust’ in the faculty to produce high-quality research and the ‘generosity’ of the School’s leadership in terms of financial support through the school’s research fund and the university’s Faculty Initiative Fund and start-up grants, that they can always turn to in case they fall short of funds.
“When we submitted this project to HEC, we budgeted for more, and what HEC finally approved was less than what we had proposed. At this time the business school was very generous in giving us additional resources from the School’s budget to support this research. So I think that kind of generosity is what powers this type of research,” adds Dr. Jajja.
The project, “Electrification - A Step Towards Sustainable Mobility in Pakistan” has secured an HEC grant under its CPEC- Collaborative Research Grant (CPEC-CRG) initiative. The focus of the project is on uplifting Pakistan’s industry’s Electric Vehicles (EVs) value chain with exploration and dissemination of understanding of new business models and supply chain management related issues and guiding the development of the needed policies and regulatory frameworks. This is planned to be done by “understanding the underlying factors that can trigger the build-up of the ecosystem for the development of manufacturing supply chain and adoption of EVs in developing countries, particularly in Pakistan”.
Commenting on the grant, Dr. Alnoor Bhimani, Honorary Dean, SDSB said, “The HEC grant will assist the team of researchers from SDSB and Zhejiang to advance an important line of research. EV technology-based transportation is reshaping the world. Pakistan must be part of that conversation and this research will directly speak to supply chain issues and business model enhancement tied to EV. Congratulations to Drs. Shakeel, Usman and Zahoor on undertaking this important research and being awarded this grant.”
Dr. Jajja is the Principal Investigator (PI) and the project’s key team members from LUMS are Dr. Raja Usman Khalid and Dr. Syed Zahoor Hassan. The project’s collaboration is with Zhejiang University’s School of Management from where Dr. Yongyi Shou is the Co-PI, who has worked extensively on the BEV related supply chain issues and maintains a thorough understanding of the present status of the BEV industry in the China and how the industry has evolved over time.
“At a global level China remains at the forefront of development and adoption of the BEV technology and has a lot to offer to Pakistan in the successful transition towards EVs from fossil fuels vehicles (FEVs)”, remarks Dr. Jajja. Truly so and thus Pakistan has a lot to learn and benefit from this research.
Electric vehicles are the expected forms of transport for the future. “Pakistan’s initiation to move in this direction is reflected by the recent announcement of the country’s first National Electric Vehicle Policy (NEVP). However, the dream cannot be realized without building the momentum and resolving the typical challenges associated with the adoption of new technology and/or materializing a major shift in an established industrial setup. This requires analysing the phenomenon from a comprehensive, end-to-end, value chain management perspective involving the various direct and indirect stakeholders. If we address the major challenges associated with EVs, Pakistan can achieve a quicker electrification rate of transportation in certain areas amongst our peer economies”, explains Dr. Jajja.
LUMS has been actively pursuing the EV Policy Development with the Government of Pakistan and also conducted research funded by the South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Energy Center to assess the industry’s readiness for manufacturing EVs in Pakistan and India.
And how will also this translate into an impact on the common man in the country? Four aspects are very significant for all this to materialise. The first question that must be answered is that “Who are ideally the early adopters of EVs in Pakistan? It may not be the common man, it may be some institutional consumers. EV early adopters may be individual users who are using EV for their household or personal usage or might be commercial users. Our policies should be focused on them rather than broad-based policies that seek to tempt everyone to adopt EVs,” explains Dr. Jajja.
The second questions on the agenda is looking into the charging infrastructure in Pakistan and where to begin and what are the business models. Since different types of EVs users will have different types of requirements from EV chargers, it is necessary that the initial investment is made on that type of infrastructure that has early adopters as well. Otherwise, it will not yield the results and will fail to be adopted.
The third question deals with the manufacturing of EVs. “We don’t want that our people adopt EVs and then we end up importing EVs from other countries. Having in-house manufactured vehicles will be useful at the national level and save foreign exchange,” says Dr. Jajja. A concrete plan needs to be in place to increase manufacturing or localisation of the manufacturing of EVS, for two, three and four-wheelers. Lastly, battery manufacturing and recycling are also important. Currently, Pakistan’s battery manufacturing is primarily lead-acid based, and the batteries that are useful for EVs are Lithium-ion primarily.
The three yearlong research project’s findings are aimed to inform policymakers, decision-makers, and managers to make the right decisions regarding who are the early adopters, how the charging infrastructure needs to be developed, how manufacturing can be enhanced and how battery-related issues can be addressed to support the battery supply line of EVs.
On the collaboration front, the project aims to serve as a platform to Pakistani and Chinese companies to interact with Pakistani scholars and the business community to see what kind of collaborations can appear among them. It will also encourage partnership between Chinese and Pakistani scholars. Faculty members from China will be travelling to Pakistan, and a team of scholars associated with this project at SDSB will be visiting China to create opportunities for knowledge sharing, and further joint research.
As Dr. Jajja rightly points out, “This is just the beginning. Once there is a collaboration, many things pop up, many things trigger from there.”