Amar Makhdoom, Chief Marketing officer of Pakistan Software export board, Zeeshan Rehman Khattak, Chief Commercial Officer of IT Ministry PSEB and Shahbaz Hameed, Director of Business Development IT Ministry PSEB at Pakistan pavilion at GITEX 2022 show, Dubai's annual enterprise technology and global digital transformation event. 11 October 2022. Photo by Shihab

Pakistan’s Federal Minister for Information Technology (IT) and Telecommunication Syed Amin Ul Haque, who on Tuesday inaugurated the Pakistan Pavilion at “Gitex Global 2022” in Dubai, exuded confidence about the South Asia’s second-most populous country putting its best foot forward towards cutting-edge innovation as more than 50 companies are taking part in the Middle East’s largest technology event.

“It’s an immense feeling to be at Gitex and see lots of Pakistani companies exhibiting here. Seeing the ‘Tech destination Pakistan’ logo everywhere is a proud moment not only for me but for the Pakistani community at large living in the [Arabian] Gulf,” he said.

Haque cited that despite Covid-19-pandemic-related global economic slowdown, Pakistan’s IT sector has shown incredible growth to the tune of over 150 per cent since he joined the office in early 2020. And although global start-up funding has reduced by 30 per cent this year, investments in Pakistani counterparts continued its upward trajectory. Pakistan is reporting impressive growth in the fields of artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain and the Metaverse primarily driven by the resilience and creativity of the people and support from the government.

“Our beloved nation could be an ideal location for digital nomads, particularly in the north of the country, where people can track, hike and explore nature, while working remotely,” he said.

“Pakistan’s youth consist of 65 per cent of 230 million population as of today. Our talented youth is meeting global standards of Freelance IT work while sitting in secondary and tertiary cities of Pakistan. Beyond the major cities, the IT ministry and its working arm, particularly, Pakistan Software Export Board (PSEB), is working towards creating sustainable Digital Transformation,” he added.

Advantages galore

Pakistan is a leading offshore destination for information and communications technology (ICT) services with homegrown IT companies serving global enterprises in over 120 countries across Americas, Europe, Middle East, Asia, Africa and Australia. The country is ranked as the second-most financially attractive location in the world for offshore outsourcing services, according to 2021 Kearney’s Global Services Location Index and the second-largest supplier of Online Labor in Software Development and Technology as per ILO Flagship Report 2021.

PSEB is not only developing digital services and infrastructure but also taking policy initiatives such as Digital Pakistan policy, Cyber security policy, Cloud first policy, personal data protection law, AI policy etc. The establishment of technology parks & IT connectivity in far-flung areas is proving to be a catalyst for creating a level-playing field for all those people who are taking advantage of the benefits this sector has to offer.

When asked about the brand name Tech destination Pakistan, Junaid Imam, Managing Director, PSEB, said, “Five things hold the key. Our geo-strategic location, time zone and connectivity, more than 600,000 IT workforce, over 30,000 IT Professionals being added annually, third- largest English-speaking populations, and the financial benefits in terms of cost differential”.

He said that due to growth of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) opportunities, the nation is reporting a reverse brain drain, where the Pakistani diaspora abroad is coming home to take the immense advantages and opportunities that the country has to offer.

Nation to host ‘Techspring’ in March 2023

Haque encouraged everyone to engage with Pakistani companies and “be delighted by their inventiveness, talent and professionalism”.

He invited all the participants to visit Pakistan in March 2023 when they will be holding their own tech exhibition, ‘Techspring’ and thanked Gitex authorities and the UAE government for hosting such events as they foster collaboration and creativity.

Senior officers from the Ministry of IT & Telecom, and Chairman Pakistan Software Houses Association for IT and ITES (P@sha) Muhammad Zohaib Khan were also present at the inaugural ceremony.

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