Pakistan’s IT industry has made exports of over half a billion dollars in the first six months of the financial year 2018-2019. Far from being an achievement, it’s a worrisome situation for policymakers, concerned bodies, and exporters.
According to statistics from the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), overall, the IT industry managed to export IT and IT-enabled services worth $540 million, seeing a paltry increase of $20 million compared to the exports figures of the same period last year.
The year-on-year increase of just 3.8% in the export value of the IT industry is a lot lower than expected and it is likely due to the impact of Rupee’s depreciation against Dollar.
It is pertinent to mention here that Pakistan’s IT industry achieved a benchmark of $1 billion of exports in the last financial year 2017-18. However, Pakistan Software Exports Board (PESB) and Pakistan Software Houses Association ([email protected]) estimated that the exports grew to an all-time high at $3.3 billion in the same year.
The exports of the IT industry could maintain their growth this financial year but won’t achieve the export earnings that were projected earlier.
SBP worked extensively to provide banking channels to software houses and freelance workers of the IT industry but it seems that either the implementation is weak, not followed by IT exporters, or the exports of IT companies are stagnant.
Pakistan Software Exports Board (PSEB) chalked out a plan with the previous government to boost the exports to over $6 billion by the end of 2020 and $10 billion by the end of 2025. These targets seem unrealistic or highly unrealistic at present.
The present government has emphasized digitization of the economy and the IT sector. It has formed a special task force on IT, comprising big names in the industry, for the promotion of the sector and facilitating job creation and exports growth.
The targets set for IT exports are ambitious but can be achieved if opportunities are availed timely by national companies in fields such as Cloud Computing, Mobile Apps, Artificial Intelligence, blockchain and etc.
According to PSEB’s website, Pakistan’s IT & ITeS-BPO industry comprises of more than 2,500 companies, and this number is growing each year. The industry employs over 300,000 English-speaking professionals with many world-class experts in current and emerging IT products and technologies.
IT is one of the sectors which has a lot of potential. It can not only increase the much-needed export receipts of the country but it can also provide jobs to millions of Pakistan if they are provided the opportunities and training.
Pakistan is ranked as the 4th most popular country for freelancing in the Online Labor Index published in 2017 by Oxford Internet Institute (OII). It is also listed as the 4th most financially attractive country in the world for outsourcing services as per A.T. Kearney’s Global Services Location Index 2016.