The IT industry is one of the fastest growing sectors of the Pakistani economy. Each year, IT accounts for over $1 billion worth of exports, with a year on year growth of around 30% over the last 5 years. Although this sounds like a decent amount, but it only makes up 0.2% of all IT exports globally, even though Pakistan has over 300,000 IT professionals working in the country. In order to understand how to improve the situation and make IT a larger part of Pakistan’s export portfolio, the World Bank recently released a report titled ‘Digital Pakistan: A Business and Trade Assessment’. In it, experts analyzed the recent trends in Pakistan’s Information Technology (IT) and Information Technology enabled Services (ITeS) sector.
The report takes its findings from a survey given to 782 IT and ITeS firms across the country. Specifically, the report tried to assess the obstacles facing by Pakistani IT firms while competing in the global market. These include trade costs such as those caused by bad policies, infrastructure deficiencies, geographical location, institutional capacities, and/or obstacles imposed by regulatory measures. According to the report, each one of these hinders growth and development of IT in both the Pakistani domestic market as well as on a global scale. These hurdles raise the cost of selling services and damage the ability of Pakistani IT firms to be competitive both abroad and at home.
To overcome these obstacles, the report suggests coming up with a digital trade policy framework. This requires government intervention In three key areas: regulatory capabilities and governance, sector-specific policies and complementary supporting policies. With more and more companies relying on technology and the internet to function following COVID-19, the authors believe the Pakistani IT industry has a lot of potential to grow if these policies are implemented correctly.