Pakistan’s Information Technology industry has demonstrated positive growth trends for the last four years. During 2016-17, Pakistan’s IT exports were $3.3 billion, which have climbed to $5 billion and are expected to grow to $6 billion in the coming years. Enterprise software has grown by 17 percent, marketing tech 15 percent, financial services 13 percent, consumer goods 9 percent, retail/e-commerce 8 percent, professional services 8 percent, internet of things/hardware 7 percent, health care 4 percent, media 4 percent and non-profit 3 percents.
Amazon and large IT sectors are expecting huge in the startup world of Pakistan as evidenced by the huge number of sponsors. Pakistan government has started promoting startups. It has given three-year exemption from taxes to the start-ups and set up national incubation centres in Lahore, Islamabad, Peshawar, Karachi and Quetta.
Department working under IT & Telecom Ministry, Pakistan Software Export Board has selected 30 IT professionals and 28 IT companies and given certifications in Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI) platform.
Moreover, 134 IT companies got certifications in ISO 9001, ISO 20001 and ISO 27001 helping them to generate IT exports from developed countries.
Pakistan software export board (PSEB)
PSEB has achieved significant milestones in IT promotion over the last four years. It participated in 11 international trade fairs along with 65 IT companies. Pakistani companies were able to generate more than 2 thousand leads with the help of those events. Trade fairs and exhibitions have promoted Pakistan as a feasible destination for outsourcing.
Pakistan’s exports increased due to PSEB efforts of organizing participation in International expos along with IT companies. PSEB in partnership with National ICT R&D Fund (IGNITE) has placed 1700 plus IT graduates as interns in various IT companies and banks and more than 60 percent of interns had a job offer from their respective companies. The government approved ‘DigiSkills’ programme to provide training to one million youth to streamline excellence in technology, innovation, and professionalism.
Ministry of information technology and telecommunication
Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication (MoIT) to boost IT products and services under ‘Digital Pakistan’ policy. Incentives are expected to increase IT exports to $10 billion by 2020. These incentives are anticipated to increase the IT exports of the country to $10 billion by 2020 and accelerate the digitization of key economic sectors locally.
The incentive package includes various measures and is being designed after a thorough analysis of other important IT destinations of the region like Philippines, China, Bangladesh and India. The package will overcome the challenges faced by the IT/ITeS industry from competing and regional economies.
Incentive package will solve issues like high taxation on IT/ITeS companies, lack of quality physical infrastructure and limited domestic opportunities. The package, as part of the Digital Pakistan Policy, will include fiscal proposals such as the extension of zero-rated income tax regime on IT exports to 2030 (currently set to expire in 2019). Removal of 2-8 per cent minimum tax on services and removal of customs duty and sales tax for imports on specific items.
Five per cent cash reward is also being proposed to encourage the inward flow of IT export remittances in proper codes. Special Economic Zones (SEZs) for IT/ITeS sector to encourage investment in IT ready physical infrastructure in the country, an issue currently hindering the growth in the sector. Fiscal incentives will be proposed to FBR for inclusion in the Finance bill 2018-19.
Pakistan’s Information Technology (IT) industry has repeatedly won international awards and recognition at international forums and earning a good name for the country. Pakistan has won GSMA Awards, Spectrum for Mobile Broadband (2015) and Government Leadership Award (2017). The IT industry has become world’s largest and most reputable entities among its regular clients.
The Minister of State for Information and Technology Anusha Rehman won the United Nations International Telecommunication Union’s Gender Equality and Mainstreaming in technology (GEM-TECH) Award in December, 2015 in this regard. MoIT has also secured a seat in the Governing Council of Asia Pacific Centre for Information and Communication Technology for Development under the UNESCAP.
At yearly APICTA Awards, Pakistani IT companies has consistently won top awards and several Pakistani IT companies are ranked among the fastest growing companies in Pakistan. The presence of international IT companies in Pakistan, such as IBM, Intel, and Huawei is a vote of confidence in Pakistan’s potential as an IT destination.
PSEB has launched several programs to bolster the local IT Industry which include IT company capability development through international certifications such as CMMI (28 companies), 9001 (110 companies), ISO27001 and ISO20000 (24 companies). These certifications make it easier for IT companies to solicit business from overseas entities.
Pakistan is ranked as the 4th most popular country for freelancing in the Online Labor Index published in 2017 by Oxford internet Institute (OII). It is consistently ranked among the top destinations for ICT outsourcing as a result of government efforts and stellar commitment to the growth of the IT sector in Pakistan.
There are already plenty of Pakistani IT companies working in international arena mainly named as ‘Mindstorm Studios’, ‘GameView Studios’, ‘Pepper PK’ and ‘TkXeL’ etc. From these companies, ‘TkXel’ has created mobile applications and gaming companies from a university lab in Lahore while Pepper PK made history by developing paid BlackBerry applications which reached top rankings on BlackBerry’s App World store. Tintash has designed many innovative casual games for iPhone, iPad and Android platforms.
Games are not the only avenue on the mobile platform that Pakistani companies are focusing on, bit a number of companies have looked at broader educational and infotainment markets.
Folio3 judged as one of the Harvard Business School’s All-World Fast Growth 500 companies in 2010 has interesting products in its portfolio. Folio3 has been instrumental in creating an online educational platform for SecretBuilders a company that boasts a virtual world for children 5 to 14 years old powered by a Web 2.0 community of children, parents, educators, writers, artists and game developers.
Pakistan has produced some great gaming studios. The title animation sequence of Game of Thrones, the world’s most-watched TV series these days, has been produced by Hameed Shaukat, a US-born Pakistani. Cricket Companion application which received worldwide recognition was also developed by TricastMedia, a Pakistani startup.