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Print Print 2023-11-24

First-ever IT and ITeS export strategy unveiled

  • Caretaker Federal Minister for Information Technology and Telecommunications says country has the potential of increasing the exports to $12-15 billion
Published November 24, 2023

ISLAMABAD: Caretaker Federal Minister for Information Technology and Telecommunications Dr Umar Saif on Thursday unveiled the first-ever IT and ITeS export strategy to increase Pakistan’s IT exports, up to $10 billion in the next three years.

The country has the potential of increasing the exports to $12-15 billion, said the minister while speaking at the launching ceremony here on Thursday.

Dr Saif said the Pakistan Software Export Board (PSEB) under the Ministry of IT and Telecommuni-cation (MoITT) in collaboration with Pricewaterhouse-Coopers (PwC), and other international partners, including faculty from the University of Oxford, developed this strategy which is closely aligned with the government’s vision.

Minister highlights govt’s steps towards IT exports

He further said that ICT is the only key to open the door to stabilising and strengthening Pakistan’s economy. Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC) has a significant role in enabling the sector and removing departmental bottlenecks, the forum of the SIFC is paving the way for foreign direct investment in Pakistan.

Highlighting the strategy to increase ICT exports, Dr Saif said that according to the official figures, IT exports are $2.6 billion, and by adding another 200,000 skilled people to the existing IT workforce, will increase exports to $5 billion.

Further, allowing IT companies to keep dollars (dollar retention facility) will increase exports by one billion dollars, while the establishment of The Pakistan Startup Fund will increase the total volume of IT exports by another $1 billion to help it meet the target of $10 billion.

Dr Saif emphasized the strategy’s potential, presenting a vision that prioritises human resource development, capacity building, the implementation of a freelancers’ facilitation program, a startup funding initiative, and the nurturing of a resilient IT ecosystem.

His comprehensive approach extends to the facilitation of business-friendly policies and international marketing efforts, ensuring a dynamic environment that propels the industry to flourish on the global stage.

Dr Saif said that this report confirms that there is a substantial opportunity for Pakistan to grow its IT/ITeS Export revenues to $10-$18bn by 2028 and would make Pakistan a Global IT hub, with a commensurate increase in the domestic industry to over $6bn per annum.

This is particularly the case in five priority IT/ITeS market segments, and within those, 12 priority sub-segments for the Pakistan IT/ITeS industry which have been identified as having a combination of a high global market growth rate, significant global market size and a large part of the global market available to exploit as there are relatively few established players.

Additionally, an increase of activity, capacity, and capability of the IT/ITeS industry will have spin-off benefits for associated industries and the economy at large – for example e-commerce, financial services, or the provision of public services (e-government). Growth in Pakistan’s IT/ITeS exports will result from the global growth in IT markets, and to support this, the country needs to undertake a significant training and skills initiative over the next five years.

However, the export market growth will be sub-optimal if the macro-conditions in the country are not also made more favourable - if this is not done, it is likely the level of ambition for IT/ITeS exports will not be met.

Deputy British High Commissioner to Pakistan Andrew Dalgleish said that this report is important for the IT sector of Pakistan. Pakistan and the UK are already cooperating in the IT sector, said Andrew Dalgleish, adding that the UK is ready to help Pakistan’s IT companies. “I was surprised to know about the potential of Pakistan in this sector.

Both countries have had trade relations for decades and can benefit from each other’s experiences in the IT sector, he added.

Zohaib Khan, chairman of P@SHA, highlighted the critical role of the IT industry in shaping Pakistan’s economic landscape and underscored the pivotal importance of industry participation, emphasizing how the report is meticulously guided by industry insights. Khan also highlighted how industry collaboration is integral to the success of national projects and initiatives.

Gerard Newman, study project director, a former senior partner of PwC UK, shed light on the significant opportunities for Pakistan’s IT/ITeS export revenues.

He identified five priority IT/ITeS market segments with significant global market size and relatively limited competition, and the need for an enabling business environment to support the growth of the nation’s IT/ITeS industry.

The ceremony also featured a panel discussion with industry experts, addressing key aspects of the strategy, including challenges and the way forward. The discussions emphasized unanimous agreement on strategies to remove current constraints and penalties inhibiting the industry’s growth.

Talking to the media the minister said that the government is working on policy to increase the mobile manufacturing and exports which is currently 15 million.

He further said that government is cognizant of cyber threats as well as data protection and a holistic mechanism is being put in place to make the cyber space more secure. He also said that the auction advisory committee on 5G would meet next month as the government is planning to go for 5G spectrum auction.

Dr Saif said dollar retention accounts are being introduced with the collaboration of the State Bank of Pakistan to facilitate IT companies. He said it will not only enable the IT companies to retain fifty percent dollars coming from abroad but they will be free to invest any amount of their choice.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

Comments

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Ash Chak Nov 24, 2023 08:39am
These caretaker ministers have grandiose dreams. If Pakistan adds 200,000 skilled workers, IT exports will increase to $5 Billion And where are you going to get these people? Has the minister bothered to look at the state of computer science education? Less than 10% of graduates are employable.
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Arif Nov 24, 2023 11:51am
"If wishes were horses, beggars would ride"
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Dabeer Razvi Nov 24, 2023 12:05pm
All exporters should be allowed to maintain Dollar Accounts in Local Banks to the tune of 30% of their Export Remittance to cater for their import of Raw Material and other legitimate requirements. This will cater for the currency depreciation and help further enhance Exports.
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Tariq Nov 24, 2023 03:22pm
For The Sake Of AlMighty ALLAH (SWT) Please Come Out Of Yesterday And Tomorrow. In Other Words GAA GAY GEEY And THA THAAY THEEEY! Don't Waste Your Younger POTENTIAL Anymore. TAKE ACTION ASAP To Break The BRAIN DRAIN.
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Spaceman Nov 24, 2023 03:41pm
@Ash Chak - Exactly. How easily its being said that 200,000 "skilled" people to be added to existing work force. In what time frame ? This statement alone puts the collaboration with PwC and other international partners in doubt.
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zaya zaya Nov 24, 2023 04:08pm
When its ALL said and Done, MORE is SAID than Done!!! Usual Rhetoric of Gravedigger govt, the caretaker!!!
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PTI worker Nov 25, 2023 12:48am
I personally was outsourcing IT (data entry) work to Pakistan from USA. The biggest hurdle was to send remittance to the guys working for me here. I just had a guy with a bachelor who i trained & he hired / trained a team of 25 people ( qualification = metric). But there's no international gateway for credit/ debit card transaction i.e. PayPal or others. Local banks don't offer IT companies credit card machines. So I was sending money via western union, a very tedious and tiresome process to send 1 k daily when u have to send over 15 k every month. I tried to raise this issue during PTI government on PM portal and going to Pakistan embassy in DC. No one did anything wo in the end I gave up and transferred everything to an IT company in Dubai. So any Pakistani government all governments are basically useless. They only thing they are good at is taking revenge from their political rivals. So all these khans & niazis & sharifs can basically ruin this country and I will get my work don
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