Bridging the gap

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Notwithstanding the significant growth the Information Technology has made in Pakistan in recent years, the country’s IT services’ exporters voice concerns that due to growing challenges the IT sector has become increasingly unviable. In the first nine months of the current fiscal year 2022-23, the IT sector has registered a decline of 0.45 per cent as compared to US$ 1,950.080 million earned through the provision of services during the corresponding period of the fiscal year 2021-22, statistics released by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS show.
As per a report published on these pages, during July-March (2022-23), the export of computer services grew by 0.09 per cent as it surged from US$ 1,566.870 million last fiscal year to US$ 1,568.270 million this year. Among the computer services, the exports of software consultancy services witnessed a decrease of 0.85 per cent, from US$ 578.454 million to US$ 573.544 million while the exports of hardware consultancy services rose by 148.69 per cent from US$ 1.645 million to US$ 4.091 million.
The export and import of computer software-related services surged by 6.05 per cent, from US$ 420.169 million to US$ 445.576 million whereas the exports of repair and maintenance services increased to US$ 2.713 million from US$ 1.130 million. In addition, the exports of other computer services witnessed a decrease of 4.09 percent going down from US$ 565.472 million to US$ 542.346 million. The Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) has reported the export of information services during the period under review declined by 5.80 percent going down from US$ 4.140 million to US$ 3.900 million.
Among the telecommunication services, the export of call centre services increased by 4.87 percent during the period as its exports increased from US$ 154.353 million to US$ 161.868 million whereas the export of other telecommunication services decreased by 7.75 percent, from US$ 224.717 million to US$ 207.312 million during the period under review, the PBS data revealed. It is evident from the facts that the future belongs to the world of innovation and technological disruptions: artificial intelligence, 5G, internet of things, cloud and mobile computing, data mining, cryptocurrency, robotics and blockchain among others. Within the next 15 years, computers will become more intelligent than humans, culminating in an all-knowing singularity. By capitalizing on these technologies, many companies have become richer than developed countries.
Through this transformation, IT companies like Apple, Microsoft, and Google have reached market capitalizations of above $1.5 trillion, and are today worth more than Italy, Canada, Russia, South Korea or Australia. This is the new technological disruptive world order. Pakistan needs to establish a comprehensive system to network all established IT Incubators. The incubators of the country should be given free hand to conduct free marketing, branding, HR skills, business development, and project management workshops on a regular basis to IT professionals and companies.
Seed money, grants, loans, bonus and cash rewards by the government for start-ups and exporters, and capital through private investors (venture capitalists and angel investors) should competitively be made available to the Incubator IT companies. The government should focus on further improving the ease of doing business, simplifying regulations, and providing a secure investment environment. This will boost investor confidence and encourage both local and foreign companies to invest in Pakistan’s IT sector.