Thursday July 18, 2024

ICT exports zoom 32.65pc to $1.48bn in seven months

By Bilal Hussain
February 26, 2022

KARACHI: Information and communication technology (ICT) export proceeds increased 32.65 percent to $1.487 billion in first seven months of this fiscal year from $1.121 billion in the same period of FY2021, attributable to demand and strong government incentives, latest number showed on Friday.

The ICT exports grew 14.2 percent to $185 million in January 2022 from $162 million in the same month last year, but were $66 million lower than December 2021.

“Perhaps it is the only industry where we export more and import less,” said ICT Expert Parvez Iftikhar and added, “The industry is showing signs of growth, and there’s huge potential for it to grow”.

The net exports in July-January FY2022 came in at $1.116 billion, which is 75.05 percent of $1.487 billion in exports. Last year, for the same period the net exports clocked in at $804 million which was 71.72 percent of $1.121 billion in exports.

Iftikhar said the government recently gave a package to fund and incentivise startups, IT enabled services (ITeS) such as accounts, software houses and freelancers, which would also help the ICT exports to increase.

However, he said the country needed to ensure high-speed internet penetration in the country to give boost the ICT exports.

Iftikhar said that there was a need to increase the penetration of fiber optic in the country. It would help ensure better quality internet for the companies and professional individuals.

He said that the government should improve 4G technology quality and speed. “There are talks of 5G but our 4G has not properly been utilised.”

He said there was a dire need to improve the bandwidth of the internet to facilitate professional people associated with the IT sector.

The analyst said the affluent big cities in Pakistan may have a proper internet facility available that helps in providing breeding grounds for IT enabled companies and freelancers to thrive but it was not available in small cities.

Khurram Schehzad at Alpha Beta Core, says Pakistan has immense potential in the ICT sector and it’s only the beginning.

However, he added that there’s a need to facilitate and pave the way for the industry to grow and there was an immense need for cheap, reliable, and fast internet available for the country.

“Pakistan startups have started to attract foreign funding but still it was low compared to neighboring India even if difference in population has been accounted for.”

Iftikhar said to improve ICT exports and attract foreign investment in startups etc., therewaa need to support the industry. For instance, he said that there's a need to establish reliable special technology zones.

According to Iftikhar, regulatory bodies such as the State Bank and Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan were making efforts to move in the right direction to facilitate ITeS etc., but there was need for more work on it.

He said to achieve the true potential of Pakistan’s tech-based exports and startup culture, provision of tax incentives and cheap internet should also be ensured.