IT minister forecasts bright future as Pakistan’s IT exports surge

By Staff Reporter | The Nation Mar 4, 2024

Caretaker Federal Minister for Information Technology and Telecommunications, Dr. Umar Saif on Monday said that IT exports have seen a steady increase over the past five months, with a notable 13% surge ob­served in the last 30 days. In an interview with a private news channel, he expressed confidence in the trajectory of the IT sec­tor, suggesting that if this momentum con­tinues, the country may soon achieve its target of reaching $10 billion in IT exports.

Acknowledging the vital role of the IT industry in the national economy, Dr. Saif emphasized the importance of providing ample incentives, facilities, and rewards to support its growth. Over the past five months, various initiatives have been im­plemented to boost IT exports and facili­tate industry growth, he added.

One crucial aspect highlighted by Dr. Saif was the necessity for quality education and skill development among the youth to compete effectively in the global market.

To address this, significant investments have been made in skills training, with new courses introduced in universities, backed by approximately 5 billion rupees in funding. Dr. Saif revealed that over 75,000 IT students graduate annually from universities across the country. Plans were underway to test and qualify these graduates, aiming to inte­grate 30,000-35,000 of them into the indus­try each year, with a broader goal of adding 100,000 individuals to the workforce annu­ally. Highlighting Pakistan’s strong presence in the global online freelancing market, Dr. Saif noted that the country boasts over 1.5 million registered freelancers, ranking sec­ond globally after the United States.

To further bolster this sector, initiatives like the ‘e-rozgar’ program have been launched, intending to establish 10 thousand ‘e-rozgar’ centers nationwide. Addressing challenges related to international transactions, Dr. Saif discussed efforts to enable freelancers to re­ceive payments through PayPal, streamlin­ing the process of earning from the USA. On the question of 4G and 5G, Dr. Saif outlined current infrastructure and future plans. Paki­stan currently has 176 thousand kilometres of fiber, with an additional 200,000 kilome­tres required. Moreover, out of 56,000 cel­lular towers, only 6,000 are connected to fiber, he added. To address this, the ‘National Fibrization Policy’ has been introduced and approved by the Cabinet. Additionally, plans are in place to auction 300 megahertz band­width spectrum to telecom companies by Ju­ly-August, aiming to enhance internet speed nationwide, with the potential introduction of 5G technology, he said.

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