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Caretaker IT Minister Reveals Blueprint for $10 Billion Annual IT Exports, Citing Youth as Greatest Asset

By: Muhammad Faheem Anwar

KARACHI: Caretaker Federal Minister for IT and Telecommunication, Dr. Umar Saif, presented a comprehensive strategy to achieve a target of $10 billion in annual IT exports through four key dimensions. Speaking as the chief guest at the 23rd ITCN Asia 2023 event in Karachi, themed “Declaring Pakistan The Regional ICT Hub,” Dr. Umar Saif outlined the plan to boost the annual IT exports from the current $2.6 billion to $3.5 billion. This growth will be facilitated by encouraging IT companies to retain export income within Pakistan’s banks and by establishing special forex accounts and online banking platforms.

The ministry, in collaboration with the private sector, aims to train 100,000 software developers, which is projected to contribute an additional $2 billion annually to the exports, bringing the total to $5.5 billion. Various training programs and boot camps will be organized to align university graduates’ skills with the IT industry’s demands.

Dr. Umar Saif emphasized the significance of creating a conducive environment for freelancers. The introduction of a global payment gateway and simplified account facilities is expected to add another $2 billion to the exports. The government, in partnership with the private sector, will allocate spaces for freelancers across different cities, enhancing their productivity and contribution.

The minister also highlighted the need to reduce tax rates for freelancers to foster the growing Gig economy in Pakistan. Additionally, Dr. Umar Saif proposed the introduction of a venture capital de-risking mechanism to encourage investment in the startup culture, with plans to launch a fund of funds backed by the government.

Addressing the telecom sector, the minister pledged to introduce 5G technology through the auction of 300 MHz, aiming to double the spectrum capacity to meet customer demands. He also advocated for a special financing facility to boost the production of high-quality mobile phone handsets.

The 23rd edition of ITCN Asia, held at Karachi’s Expo Center, began on August 31. With Tech Destination Pakistan as the title partner and support from leading partners like Google, P@SHA, and UNIFONIC, the event features over 450 participating organizations, including foreign delegates from eight countries. The event encompasses exhibitions and conferences on various topics such as Cybersecurity, E-commerce, Fintech, Digital Education, and more. The event is supported by the Ministry of IT & Telecom, PTA, PSEB, and P@SHA.

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