Performance and Achievements of IT and Telecom Sector

Report by Engineering Post

The federal government is providing dedicated, committed support and attractive incentives to the Information Technology (IT) industry. According to the information gathered from official and other concerned sources, there were several projects under various stages of execution and implementation to facilitate and assist the IT Industry and maintain its growth trajectory b in a satisfactory and impressive manner and to ensure continued upward momentum in domestic and export earnings.

These included infrastructure development, international marketing and promotion, and capacity building through multiple technology training programmes, skill development programmes, international certification of companies, facilitation of freelancers, etc. Pakistan Software Export Export Board (PSEP) was ensuing to maintain an active and prompt6 liaison with the IT industry stakeholders in initiating projects for its development and growth.

For the information of EP readers, a freelancer is an individual who earns money on a per job or per task basis, usually for short-term work. Freelancers can and do work from any location, be it in urban or rural areas, while earning a viable livelihood globally.

Pakistan’s IT and Information Technology enabled Services (ITeS) is its services to more than 170 countries/territories around the world. The USA was the largest market accounting for about 54.54 percent of the export remittances followed by the United Kingdom (UK) 7.99 percent, United Arab Emirates (UAE) 6.91 percent, Ireland 6.83 percent and Singapore 4.95 percent respectively. The top 20 IT and ITeS export destinations on the whole accounted for as much as 97.05 percent of the total export remittances while the rest only accounted for just 2.95 percent only.

Pakistani freelancers also contribute substantial foreign exchange earnings through remittances which was quite appreciable. Pakistani freelancers thus earning valuable foreign and impacting remote and rural communities in the country.

Over the past more than five years a phenomenal upward growth of a s much as 178 percent in IT and ITeS exports has been witnessed at a compound annual growth rate of 30 percent, the highest growth rate in comparison to all other local industries in services.

PSEB offers technical as well as financial assistance to the selected IT companies to attain international certification. These certifications help improve company marketability in the international markets as well as the quality of the human resources in terms of skills.

PSEB is also working on listing Pakistani IT on the GEM Board of Pakistan Stock exchange aiming to increase the number of listed technology companies on the Stock Exchange Main Board and GEM board which in turn helps in strengthen the financial ecosystem for IT/ITeS sector growth and contribute to the efforts for building cloud strong brand image of Pakistan’s IT/ITeS industry in the international markets.
IGNITE’s National Technology Fund is focused on funding and promoting technology innovation and entrepreneurship in Pakistan through a number of funding programmes.

IGNITE has established eight National Incubation Centres in Islamabad, Lahore, Quetta, Karachi, Peshawar Hyderabad and two specialized incubators in Rawalpindi for agriculture and Rawalpindi for Aerospace. Over the past few years, the National Incubator Centres have incubated over 1300 startups with more than 660 graduating successfully so far. These startups have generated over 126000 jobs , received a total investment of Rs 12.43 billion ( US $ 74 million) and have generated a combined revenue of over Rs 9 billion. According to the latest information, more than 2300 women entrepreneurs have been empowered through the programme.. Many NIC startups have also raised investments, such as BYKEA US 4 37 million, Pak Vitac US $ 17 million, Integry US $ 4 million, Veeela US $ 2 million, DigiKala US$ 2 million and Ezbike US $ 1 million. 2.0 was launched in January 2022 with the objective of providing the youth, freelancers, students, professionals ,etc. with the knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques necessary for taking the advantage of international and local online job markets. The total number of trainees comprise 73 percent males and only 27 percent females. The number of overseas Pakistanis trained in the programme was more than 31000. Presently, exports generated through freelancing services was between 15-20 percent of total IT exports.

Furthermore, Challenge Innovation Fund identified eleven thematic areas and the participants from academia and industry were invited to submit their projects in the form of consortia in multiple areas. The initiative was divided into three phases out of which the first phase has since been completed. A total number of 899 projects were received at the national level, out of which 451 projects were scrutinized for project online evaluations. All evaluations have since been completed and 114 projects had been shortlisted to submit full technical and financial proposals.

The Universal Service Fund (USF) has been mandated for providing access to telecommunication services in the unserved, underserved , rural and remote areas of the country. To meet its objectives as such, USF had designed and launched various projects under different programmes each targeting deployment of specific infrastructure and provision of related services. The services are made available at affordable rates in the country empowering both men and women. All USF projects, focusing on provision of voice and high-speed data services, requiring the operators to power up their infrastructure through solar USF programmes can be divided into two broad categories.

Furthermore, according to the available information, Voice and High Speed Broad Based Data Services (3G/4G) focused on the establishment of infrastructure and provision of voice and high speed broad based data services to the unserved and underserved mauzas across the country. Under different variations of this programme coverage was also being extended on unserved road segments along National Highways and Motorways and to the various tourist destinations.

Since its inception till the end of Second Quarter of FY2023, USF had launched 90 projects worth approximately Rs 80.5 billion targeting 18397 Mauzas having a population of approximately 33 million , 2650 KMs of road segments on National Highways and Motorways and 27 tourist destinations across the country. Further, 13164 Mauzas with a population of approximately 27 million and more than 1800 kms of road segments had been provided with voice and high speed broad based data services.

Universal Service Fund (USF) also launched 9 projects worth approximately Rs 14.3 billion targeting 0.28 million population residing in 341 Mauzas and over 622 Kms of road segments in National Highways and motorways networks during the period mentioned above. further, 796 Mauzas having a population of approximately 0.18 million and 72.6 KMs of road segments had also been provided with voice and high speed broad based data services.

Since its inception, Universal service Fund has launched 25 projects worth approximately Rs 35.71 billion targeting the deployment of 18575 KM of Optic Fiber cable by establishing 1272 points of connectivity in unserved Tehsil Headquarters/Union Councils/ Towns across the country. More than 12800 KM of OFC has since been deployed with the establishment of 745 points of connectivity.

There was a lot more information about the Information technology and Telecommunication sector working such as the National Telecommunication Corporation but it was being held up now for want of space and may be presented on these pages later on, please.