Govt eyes $10bn IT exports in 3 years

ISLAMABAD: Care­taker Minister for Infor­mation Technology and Telecommunications Dr Umar Saif unveiled the first IT and ITeS Export Strategy on Thursday, aiming to increase IT exports to $10 billion in the next three years.

Dr Saif stated that the Pakistan Software Export Board, under the Ministry of IT and Telecomm­unication, collaborated with Pricewater­house­Coo­pers (PwC) and other international partners, including faculty from the University of Oxford, to develop “this strategy, which closely aligns with our vision”.

Dr Saif emphasised that information and communications technology is the key to opening the door to stabilising and strengthening Pakistan’s economy.

At present, Pakistan’s IT exports stand at $2.6 billion, and Dr Saif said that an additional 200,000 skilled human resources will be incorporated into the existing IT workforce to boost exports by $5 billion.

He said that allowing IT companies to keep dollars through the ‘Dollar Retention Facility’ will increase exports by $1bn, while the establishment of the ‘Pakistan Startup Fund’ will increase the total volume of IT exports by another $1bn to help it meet the target of $10bn.

The new strategy envisages increasing IT exports between $10bn and $18bn by 2028, through three key initiatives — skill development, provision of IT ecosystem and appropriate marketing.

At the same time, Dr Saif emphasised that the growth of the export market will be sub-optimal unless macro-conditions in the country are also made more favourable. “If this is not done, it is likely that the level of ambition for IT/ITeS exports will not be met,” he said.

Zohaib Khan, Chairman of P@SHA, conveyed a resonant message on the critical role of the IT industry in shaping Pakistan’s economic landscape. He added that industry collaboration is integral to the success of national projects and initiatives.

Gerard Newman, Study Project Director and a former senior partner of PwC UK, shed light on the significant opportunities for Pakistan’s IT/ITeS export revenues.

Published in Dawn, November 24th, 2023

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