Expanding range of tech products must to boost exports from Pakistan

Pakistan’s IT industry had advanced significantly owing to a rising pool of highly skilled professionals

ISLAMABAD   -    Pakistan’s IT sector has shown a remarkable growth in recent years, with a focus on software development, outsourcing, and freelancing. However, to further increase the export base, it is essential to diversify and expand the range of exported tech products.

Ali Raza, former CEO of Pakistan Software Export Board, said Pakistan’s IT industry had advanced significantly owing to a rising pool of highly skilled professionals. The nation is well-represented in the international outsourcing markets, as many local companies provide software development, call centres, and BPO services.

He opined that as software development and outsourcing continue to be crucial, there were vast opportunities for Pakistan’s IT sector to diversify and expand its product range, such as leveraging engineering expertise to develop hardware products like smartphones, laptops, and other electronic devices.

He lamented that Pakistan’s infrastructure for exports was inadequate, with inefficient transportation and logistics systems causing delays and increasing costs.

“Our tech products often lack standardization, making it difficult for them to compete in the global markets. Our marketing and branding efforts are insufficient, failing to effectively showcase our products to global buyers.

“The Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC) can play a pivotal role in attracting investment into tech products by streamlining investment processes, providing one-window operations, and offering attractive incentives and facilitation,’’ he stressed while speaking to WealthPK.

He suggested that the SIFC should identify potential areas for investment in tech products and connect the investors with local stakeholders, thus facilitating joint ventures and partnerships that foster technology transfer and expertise sharing.

He said the SIFC should ensure policy consistency and implementation, providing investor support services such as company registration and visa processing. The IT Ministry should develop an investment-friendly infrastructure, and establish specialized zones, parks, and clusters that offer modern facilities for tech product development and manufacturing.

Talking to WealthPK, Nafees Hamid, software engineer at tkxel, a software company, said Pakistan’s tech industry was predominantly recognized for IT services rather than products, which affected the global perception of its tech industry. A strategic marketing approach is needed to rebrand and promote Pakistani tech products internationally, he added.

“The government can play a pivotal role by providing incentives to both startups and established companies to develop exportable tech products. This could include tax breaks, subsidies, or grants aimed at reducing the risk associated with the high costs of R&D in the tech industry,’’ he said.

He lamented that one of the major barriers was the lack of access to venture capital and other forms of financial investment necessary for initial development and subsequent scaling of tech products.

He opined that reliable and high-speed internet access, continuous electricity supply, and good logistical frameworks were essential for developing and exporting tech products. Improving these can help companies operate more efficiently and competitively both locally and globally.

Hamid concluded that establishing tech incubators and accelerators that specifically focus on developing tech products could stimulate innovation. Collaboration with universities and private sector companies to fund and support research and development activities can also yield new products suitable for export.

ePaper - Nawaiwaqt