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DUBAI: Pakistan is one of the “fastest growing hidden treasures in IT” and its companies, including those exhibiting at GITEX GLOBAL 2023, are “hungry for growth”, said Systems Limited CEO Asif Peer.

Speaking at a session titled ‘Strengthening Ties, Unlocking Potential: Exploring New Horizons in Middle East Partnerships for Innovation’ on Tuesday, Peer said “whichever company you meet in our Pakistan pavilion, you will see that hunger and passion” from a country that has huge potential for tech growth.

Noting that Pakistan’s CAGR for IT export growth is about 37% year-on-year, he said the country is one of the most vibrant destinations for IT services and outsourcing, boasting “high quality engineers at a price point which no one can beat”.

He said Systems is a “proud Pakistani company” and represents the country globally, taking advantage of its human capital. He was confident that many other companies are doing the same, which is leading to a robust ecosystem in the South Asian nation.

According to Peer, the Pakistan startup community has been growing tremendously as “a lot of use cases emerge all across the board because of a population of 240 million people we need to serve.” “Any innovation that we do locally… any use case that we come up with we can replicate to large countries because we have a complexity we have addressed.”

Peer also commented on AI, a major theme at GITEX this year. He said AI is not limited to the public or private sector, but will be one of the building blocks for all organisations, as it is no longer an “optional component”.

He said CIOs and CEOs, who once spoke about digital transformation, are now talking about AI transformation.

Peer was joined on stage by Taha Hashmi, Vice President Global Markets and Strategy at tech company Exage. He focused on the fact that Pakistan has one of the highest youth populations in the world - 61 million young people, more than entire countries in Europe - with 231 universities producing 30,000 STEM graduates a year.

“Our responsibilities as leaders in the tech industry is to evangelize that talent, train them and give them opportunities,” he said.

He added that Pakistan’s managed services segment is going to be growing at the fastest rate globally because companies in North America and Europe are looking “for their mid- to low-value tasks and some of their high end upper stack tasks to be automated and to be conducted out of a market where they can realise better cost efficiency and operational execution.”

“So, the opportunity for us, as we are in GITEX and also representing Pakistan, is enormous.” He also spoke about the importance of digital equity, through which it could be possible to “ensure that economic prosperity is applicable to everybody”.

GITEX GLOBAL 2023 kicked off on Monday and will conclude on Friday. It features a massive Pakistan pavilion and, according to caretaker IT minister Dr Umar Saif, more than 80 startups from the country are participating, one of the largest cohorts from any country.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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