ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Minister of Information Technology, Syed Aminul Haque, has set an ambitious target to elevate the country’s IT exports from the current $2.6 billion to $15 billion in the next few years. The move reflects a renewed focus on a sector where Pakistan has lagged behind its competitors.
During a news conference on Tuesday, Minister Haque announced plans to ramp up investments in the IT sector to $10 billion. The ministry is currently prioritizing efforts to enhance connectivity, skill development, and capital inflows.
With both military and political leadership aligned, the coalition government is steadfast in its commitment to bolster the economy, create more job opportunities, increase remittances, and promote ease of doing business, emphasized Haque.
He revealed that projects worth Rs77 billion are already underway to improve cyber optic cable networks and 3G/4G facilities, especially in remote areas, with completion expected by December 2023.
Additionally, the government has invested in the training of 3.3 million freelancers to give a significant boost to IT exports.
However, Haque highlighted that bureaucratic hurdles were hindering the rapid development of digitization. The traditional mindset often overlooks the value of online services such as call centers and remittances from freelancers, he noted.
The pandemic provided an opportunity for the IT ministry to advance digitization efforts and set ambitious targets, including “smartphone for all” and “connectivity for all.”
The price of good-quality smartphones has dropped to approximately Rs20,000 to Rs30,000 due to the promotion of local manufacturing of mobile phones.
To ensure connectivity reaches remote areas, the Universal Service Fund (USF) has allocated Rs77.8 billion for 83 projects, slated for completion by December 2023.
In a bid to boost industry growth further, the government is organizing an international IT seminar on July 20, with plans to attract investments and remittances to propel IT exports to $15 billion in the coming years.
Haque also highlighted the success of Digi Skills programs, with Ignite training around 3.3 million people in various freelancing courses, and Google training 15,000 Pakistanis in 2022. Negotiations with Google are ongoing, and it is expected to train around 450,000 Pakistanis in 2024.
The creation of the Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC) is expected to resolve various industry issues as it brings together key figures from the government and armed forces, providing a platform for the private sector to address concerns, emphasized the P@SHA chairman during the event.