IT Minister reveals plans to boost IT exports, freelancing

IT export and freelancing

Caretaker Federal Minister for IT and Telecom, Dr. Umar Saif, said during his speech at the opening ceremony of ITCN Asia 2023 in Karachi that Pakistan is rapidly becoming a regional hub for ICT and that if IT companies are given confidence, they will transfer remittances to Pakistani banks rather than keeping them in offshore accounts abroad.

This action is anticipated to quickly enhance annual IT exports from Rs2.6 billion to Rs3.5 billion.

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Dr. Umar Saif emphasized the need for customized accounts and online banking platforms for IT firms. These platforms would make it simple for them to pay for goods and services from outside sources, including hardware, tools, foundational infrastructure, critical software, and services.

The IT Ministry will work with the private sector to train one lakh software developers, which will significantly increase exports by an additional Rs2bn, bringing the total export to Rs5.5bn.

For university graduates, various training programmed and boot camps will be organized to help them develop their abilities to fulfil industrial requirements.

Additionally, this substantial training and skill development programs will open up a lot of work prospects for Pakistani IT graduates, enhancing both the economic health of the nation and the well-being of their families.

Dr. Umar Saif stated that about 10% of the 35–40 thousand IT graduates produced by Pakistan’s educational institutions each year find jobs. He emphasized the necessity of this transformation.

He made note of the fact that Pakistan has the second-largest freelance workforce in the world, with four lakh individuals. However, this workforce’s ability to fully contribute to remittances is limited by the need for global payment platforms like PayPal.

Payment processors like PayPal could boost IT exports by $2 billion. Dr. Umar Saif emphasized the significance of developing a friendly ecosystem and workstations nationwide to help freelancers.

The collaboration between the public and commercial sectors offers favorable conditions and facilities for independent contractors.

In order to encourage freelancers’ contribution to economic development, he also suggested levying a 0.25 percent tax on them, comparable to the tax breaks offered to the IT industry.

To address market concerns, Dr. Umar Saif also outlined efforts in the venture capital sector, such as creating a fund of funds with 30% government equity to co-invest with venture capital in start-ups.

He acknowledged the difficulties that telecom operators and customers confront regarding service quality in the telecom sector. He also emphasized the importance of helping telecom carriers invest in infrastructure to improve service quality.

To fulfil the escalating demand in the mobile phone industry, Dr. Umar Saif also announced the goal to quadruple the currently available spectrum and speed up the auctioning of the underutilized spectrum.

He also disclosed government plans to fund research and development for mobile producers to increase the competitiveness of locally produced mobile phones on the global market. Collaborations with telecom firms will also make it easier to finance mobile phones.

Numerous well-known figures from the IT industry, including Sparks Chairman Asif Khan, NITB CEO Babar Bhatti, Tech Destination CEO Ali Raza, General Secretary Pasha Nadeem Malik, MD Ignite Asim Shehryar, MD Systems Limited, Country Director Uniphonic, and others, attended ITCN Asia 2023’s opening ceremony.

Till September 1st, 450 institutions and businesses will be present at the three-day ITCN Asia 2023 exhibition and conference.

Additionally, 100 participants from 8 nations are taking part in the conference, including China, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, the United States, and Azerbaijan.

The exhibition features 400 booths from both domestic and foreign businesses, as well as a dedicated pavilion highlighting mobile devices made in Pakistan.

The CIO Global Forum is also organizing the first World CIO 200 Summit.

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