Exploring IT potential for economic growth

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Pakistan records historic increase in IT exports worth $310m last month

LAHORE, MAY 19 (DNA) — As Pakistan navigates challenges of a rapidly evolving global landscape, a robust IT industry becomes a catalyst for driving innovation, fostering research and technological development and grabbing slot on the list of developed nations.

Fully employing this sector would matter much for Pakistan also in attracting foreign investment and partnerships on way to a progressive economy and steering country out of financial crunch. 

A thriving IT sector can act as a buffer, reducing dependency on traditional industries with a youthful population contributing visibly as a strategic asset for nation building and making the country flourish in different arena of life.

“Information Technology (IT) sector has exhibited consistent year-on-year growth and emerged as one of top five net exporters in the country,” stated Pakistan Software Houses Association Chairman Zohaib Khan.

“As a primary contributor to net exports in services industry, IT sector plays a pivotal role in shaping Pakistan’s economic landscape,” Zohaib said. “With the potential to become country’s primary foreign exchange earner and achieve ambitious annual national target of over US$ 15 billion, it is crucial to embrace a comprehensive approach to propel this sector forward.”

According to Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), Pakistan’s Telecom sector had generated Rs 850 billion in revenues in 2022-23, marking 17 percent growth from previous year and demonstrating sector’s resilience amidst challenges of inflation, high business cost and economic slowdown.

In its report, the PTA mentioned to substantial investment potential in this sector, with local industry investments of $5.7 billion and FDI worth $1.4 billion over five years from 2018-19 to 2022-23. Moreover, the sector contributed Rs1.27 trillion to national treasury from 2018-19 to fiscal 2022-23.

“Pakistan’s IT landscape is bright, dynamic and filled with opportunities,” remarked former IT Minister Dr Umar Saif. “Human capital is our biggest strength and need monumental up-skilling initiatives to ensure that they not only meet the demands of present digital age but also secure space for future flourishing.”

He stated that by tapping the immense potential of our freelance community, we must foster innovation, diversity and economic inclusivity while transcending geographical boundaries. “To fuel this engine of creativity, we must also ensure robust funding mechanisms for startups.”

In this scenario, the PTA also suggests in its report to reducing cost of doing business and implementing cost-effective strategies to meet capacity demand that is essential for extending connectivity to underserved areas in the country. Amidst endeavors to launch 5G, the PTA has also underlined the need for development of requisite infrastructure for introducing 5G services in an effective and efficient manner.

Meanwhile, Pakistan Software Export Board (PSEB) has intricately formulated a strategic roadmap. Guided by industry insights and thorough research, this roadmap charts a distinct and precisely defined course to establish Pakistan as a global technology hub.

It identifies five priority IT/ITeS market segments marked by significant global market growth and equitable competition underscoring the significance of fostering skills development, improving infrastructure, implementing strategic projects and policies to facilitate the growth of businesses.

The overarching goal is to create a well-rounded and thriving environment that fosters innovation, development and sustained progress within Pakistan’s IT industry. “Pakistan’s Information Technology (IT) sector is establishing itself as a distinct source for software development, business process outsourcing and freelancing,” said ‘iSkills’ Chief Executive Officer Tanveer Nandla.

He said Pakistan’s IT sector is a dynamic ecosystem made up of businesses, experts, academics and policymakers. “Our IT firms are skilled in a range of services, creation of high-end, enterprise-grade software, systems integration, mobile apps, gaming, animation, consultancy and BPO services.”

Besides this, Tanveer said, our firms are also skilled in telemarketing, technical support, transcription and invoicing. “Many multinational corporations have developed global consulting services centers, research and development facilities and BPO support services institutes in  Pakistan.”

He said Pakistan has ample opportunities in IT & ITeS sector as this industry offers prospects for both domestic and foreign investors like company mergers and acquisitions, IT startups, venture capital funds, IT parks, software development, research labs and technology incubators.

“Pakistan’s IT sector has a bright future. It is packed with talent and has capability to become country’s largest export business,” he remarked. He noted that Pakistan has a significant talent pool comprising its graduates excelling in computer science, engineering and mathematics. “This offers the IT sector an intellectual capital that may spur progress and creativity.”

Appreciating number of incentives announced by the PML-N government for IT development, Tanveer Nandla urged the government to benefit from Pakistan’s strategic location and make Pakistan a gateway to Middle East, Central Asia and South Asian markets.

 “This might be advantageous for IT firms who seek to expand their presence abroad.” He also underlined the need for better internet connectivity, finance new enterprises and enhance skills to fully tap our potential and compete in international market.

 Therefore, central to our strategic vision must be enhancing demand for Pakistan’s IT industry through international marketing while pitching Pakistan as an IT hub and maintaining close collaboration with embassies and trade missions for global outreach.

Our strategy should also extend to telecom and wireless sectors; dedicated to bolstering infrastructure, expanding fiber networks and embracing cutting-edge technologies. — DNA