For the first time, about 40 Pakistani Information Technology (IT) companies including 15 start-ups are all set to showcase their potential at the mega IT event in Riyadh. There are conflicting reports about actual figure of earnings generated by Pakistani companies and individuals dealing in the export of information technology (IT) and IT-enabled services but one thing is clear that this industry has a lot of potential, which has not been fully tapped yet.
According to the media reports, during the fiscal year 2020-21, Pakistan’s export of IT and IT-enabled services amounted to $1.2 billion. The aforementioned data may not reflect the actual size of the country’s IT exports as some IT remittances are not properly documented. In reality, it is far less as billions of rupees come through freelancing and small software houses that carry out various IT-related jobs. These jobs include export of computer software, software consultancy services, hardware consultancy services, maintenance and repair of computers, other computer services and call centres.
An environment needs to be created for the growth of the IT industry instead of making it a venture comprising underhand business deals. There are certain impediments to the growth of the IT industry. First, government’s lack of interest is causing a slow growth of the business. If government diverts its attention to the IT sector, it can see a boom within days and months and it can become a potential source of bringing huge foreign exchange. Second, there is a lack of awareness as many youths, who want to opt for the industry, do not know from where to start. Thus they end up wasting their time or quitting the IT industry in the end. Many treat it as a short term business activity or a part time source of earning and never focus on its long term usage. Third, the presence of exploiters in the market desist many entrepreneurs from investing in the IT industry as they are cheated by a few crooks and deprived of their hard earned money. By showcasing its potential in Saudi Arabia, IT companies can earn a hefty foreign exchange and the government needs to facilitate these ventures.