IT exports to Africa to hit $1b in two years: experts

Urge govt to attract African IT companies through incentives

Usman Hanif June 01, 2023
The SBP reported a 92% increase in transactions processed through Raast, totalling 41.27 million, with the transaction value growing by 56% to Rs903 billion quarter-on-quarter by the end of March 2023. Photo: afp


Pakistan’s IT industry has the potential to achieve $1 billion in exports to Africa within a couple of years, according to experts. Muhammad Zohaib Khan, Chairman of the Pakistan Software Houses Association (P@SHA), highlighted this opportunity during the launch event of GITEX Africa 2023 in Morocco.

Africa, with a population of 1.3 billion people spread across 54 countries, boasts a nominal GDP of $2,260 per capita and a purchasing power parity GDP of $6,370 per capita. Khan emphasised the significance of establishing strong connections with African governments and the private sector to tap into this immense potential. “This is huge, and Pakistan can achieve $1 billion in IT exports to Africa alone within a short span of 2 years,” he said.

Speaking to The Express Tribune, Si Global CEO and a member of the Pakistani delegation, Noman Ahmed echoed this sentiment, pointing out that Pakistan has over one million skilled IT professionals who can meet the demands of African businesses. Additionally, Pakistan’s lower cost of living compared to developed countries makes it an attractive outsourcing destination. The Pakistani government has also made substantial investments in the IT industry, including the creation of special economic zones for IT companies.

P@SHA, in collaboration with the Ministry of IT & Telecom (MoITT), Pakistan Software Export Board (PSEB), and Tech Destination Pakistan, has organised a delegation of Pakistan’s top IT companies to participate in GITEX Africa. The event serves as a platform for showcasing the achievements and opportunities of Pakistani IT firms and fostering valuable relationships within the global tech ecosystem spanning 80 countries.

The P@SHA chairman emphasised the importance of GITEX Africa in connecting Pakistan’s entrepreneurial and innovation economy with the African continent, which is rich in resources vital for Pakistan’s digital economy mission. Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has expressed his optimism in the IT industry’s potential to stabilise the country’s economy by addressing the trade deficit and attracting foreign exchange.

Ahmed highlighted the rapidly growing African economy and the increasing demand for IT services in the region. To achieve $1 billion in IT exports to Africa, Pakistan needs to enhance its visibility and promote its IT industry through trade missions, exhibitions, and marketing initiatives, he said. Additionally, attracting African IT companies to set up operations in Pakistan can be achieved through incentives such as tax breaks and access to skilled labour. Developing partnerships with African businesses and providing IT services through joint ventures and outsourcing arrangements are also key strategies.

As the digital economy continues to flourish in Africa, IT companies in Pakistan are poised to benefit from the expanding opportunities. With the increasing number of IT companies in Pakistan, businesses now have more options to choose from, fuelling further growth in the industry, he said.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 1st, 2023.

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