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OICCI estimates IT services export potential of $10 billion

By Our Correspondent
January 19, 2021

KARACHI: Overseas Investors Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OICCI) has estimated that an enabling digital environment could boost Pakistan’s IT services’ exports to $10 billion annually from the current $1-2 billion

In a report OICCI Recommendations for Digital Economy launched Monday, the chamber highlighted the need for digitising key segments of the economy as a stepping stone for boosting IT exports, GDP growth, and increasing foreign direct investment.

The report said that this would create hundreds of thousands of new jobs within a short time. OICCI President Haroon Rashid said IT exports from Pakistan were only $1 to $2 billion, whereas Philippines, with half the population of Pakistan exports IT services of about $30 billion, and India earned over $190 billion. Many other Asian countries were also well ahead of Pakistan, which should be a cause of great concern to the authorities.

The report urged for stable and inclusive regulatory practices to ensure effective participation of global players in Platform Economy to attract FDI and venture capital, make a significant positive impact on GDP growth and also to connect Pakistan to global ecommerce and creative opportunities.

Appreciating the special technology zones recently inaugurated by the prime minister, the report said this would likely to benefit the country in medium- to long-term. However, for immediate gains, OICCI recommended establishing a digital mechanism for ease of doing business coverage in public-private-partnership, and to utilise 5-10 million square feet through a virtual authority.

OICCI membership includes some of the best-known IT MNCs, including IBM, SAP, and Teradata. These companies also actively contributed to the development of digital economy recommendations, and offered to run one integrated technology training programme for up to half a million certified resources in Pakistan using global courses being successfully run in many advanced countries.

“These are online industry focused programmes where the government needs to invest only on tracking, adoption and placement through one program office located in the Ministry of IT,” the report said.

Pakistan should focus on shifting to skill development in education instead of academic degrees, the report said. The report said that Pakistan needed to improve the quality and stability of connectivity by pushing for fiberisation. It also recommended accelerating digitisation of financial services and enabling integration with global chains for improved citizen and business services, which it said could be done through digital governance.

With an improved security environment, duly recognised by independent sources, and attractive operating cost, in terms of hard currencies, following massive devaluation of the rupee, OICCI emphasised on improving the global image of Pakistan as an attractive destination for FDI.