Software Business Contributes Over 50% to IT Exports in FY23

Pakistan’s IT companies remained active in the software business, having a share of 52 percent in IT exports in the financial year 2022-23 (FY23).
According to data released by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), the exports of software consultancy and computer software stood at $1.36 billion in the overall exports of $2.61 billion recorded in FY23.
Pakistan primarily exports software and software-related services since the country’s hardware industry is not as developed as the software industry. Moreover, the official statistics of Other Computer Services also included export proceeds of $743 million in FY23.

The central bank, in its recent report, pointed out that an additional $1.5 billion of IT (including software and software consultancy) and IT-enabled exports were estimated to be in the grey market in 2019, which as per current industry estimates, may have grown to $2.5 billion by FY22.
Small software exporters dominate the country’s IT exports, most of whom export less than $0.1 million a year. IT exports are not diversified, where the share of the US alone is more than half, the report stated.
The government should ensure a sustainable policy regarding the facilitation of IT exporters, including their demand for foreign exchange accounts, incentives, and tax holidays primarily to boost software exports, said Noman Said, a software exporter and CEO of SI Global Solutions.
He said Pakistan needs to explore traditional and non-traditional markets to enhance its export of the software sector, including European countries, GCC states, African states, and the Asian and Pacific region. There is vast room for growth if you bring diversification to your services with market research and innovative ideas. However, he said the government and IT companies should join hands to access this market by arranging various conferences and exhibitions.
He added that all stakeholders in the IT industry, including educational institutes, should forge a greater collaboration to promote ICT education in the country to ensure the supply of fresh talent to the industry. In this regard, training in ICT through short courses and boot camps should be a priority basis for fresh graduates. The graduates and professionals of the non-IT sector should also be encouraged to learn IT skills and kickstart freelancing in basic IT projects, he added.
IT is a top contributor in the service sector exports with a 35 percent share. It is the second high-performing export sector after the textile industry.
Tufail Ahmed Khan, CEO Pakistan Freelancers Association (PAFLA), said the contribution of freelancers in the IT sector is significant in the overall IT export who bring remittances despite multiple issues and challenges.

He said the government should work with the private sector to encourage students and young professionals to be self-employed to provide their skilled-based services to technical and non-technical areas on freelancing platforms. This way, the country could receive much-needed foreign exchange.
The trend of remote jobs has been on the rise as several IT giants in developed countries focus on outsourcing their projects. Our IT graduates should work on getting these projects in maximum numbers and deliver high-quality work to make Pakistan the preferred outsourcing hub for foreign companies, he added.

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