2022 year-ender: CPEC charges up IT, Digital economy in Pakistan

(By Yasir Habib Khan) :-

CPEC’s positive stir in IT industry and digital economy in 2022 has set the tone of resilient growth and progression for 2023 on automation, e-governance, e-commerce, IT parks, Research & Development, Internet density and computer Technology in Pakistan.   

Benefited by CPEC-led cooperation on IT and digital economy, it is predicted that the total value of Pakistan’s IT industry will reach $10 billion by 2025. During onset and till end of current year, Pakistan has more than 2,000 software R&D centers. At present, Pakistan is the fourth largest base for free IT practitioners in the world.

Owing to multiple strategic, development and trade compulsions, China and Pakistan are specially focusing on the development of IT sector for China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and beyond.

In July 2022 the first-ever China-Pakistan Technology Investment Conference was jointly organised by Special Technology Zones Authority, the Pakistan Embassy in China, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Islamabad, and the Zhong guancun Belt and Road Industrial Promotion Association (ZBRA) in order to forge new connections with the Chinese technology sector and open the door for Chinese and Pakistani technology players to collaborate in the field of technology.

July 2022 also marked an important development when The Ministry of IT and Telecommunication hosted the inaugural meeting of the Pakistan-China Joint Working Group (JWG) on the Information Technology. The decision was made that both nations would gain from one another’s expertise in the areas of spectrum, policy regulations, cyber security, human resource development, and 5G.

Similarly, in October 2022, Pakistani ambassador to China Moinul Haque shared a news that the two countries have decided to build three new corridors, including the China-Pakistan Digital Corridor, which would help improve collaboration in many information technology industries.He also envisaged an international conference on artificial intelligence in March, 2023 where local and foreign businesses will attend.

A lot of commitments and agreements were reached between the two countries in 2022 regarding IT and beyond. Now, 2023 is the year when we should consolidate on our previous work by enhancing the cooperation in the IT sector. If we look around the world, a lot is happening in the world of IT. For example, hybrid or multicloud management technology, tools, and procedures will be used by 70% of businesses in the near future. With expectations of speeds up to 100 times faster, 5G will simultaneously provide network speeds that are around ten times quicker than those on existing 4G LTE networks.

Another great news came in November 2022, when China-Pakistan Science and Technology Cooperation Centre was inaugurated in Beijing by Ambassador Moin ul Haque and Mr. Zhang Xiaodong, President of Zhongguancun Belt and Road Industrial Promotion Association (ZBRA), while Special Technology Zones Authority (STZA) joined virtually from Pakistan.

“Pakistan’s technology sector especially the newly built IT parks offer globally competitive opportunities for the Chinese partners and investors”, said a senior official at the Ministry of Information Technology and Telecom (MOITT).

At the launching ceremony of Pakistan’s largest information technology park project in Karachi he said, the launching of three new corridors, including China-Pakistan Digital Corridor, will create many opportunities for the Chinese investors.

The IT Park of Karachi is an eleven-storey building covering an area of 106,449 square meters. The technology park will provide office space to approximately 225 startups, small to medium enterprises and other ancillary facilities like testing laboratories, classrooms, industry academia linkage center and auditorium.

The official source from MOITT believed that this will provide a platform to the Chinese companies with the local companies in promoting research and development, technology sharing while giving a boost to IT exports. Pakistan’s largest information technology park project in Karachi is expected to be completed in June 2026. Presently 22 software technology parks are operative in small cities and the government has set the target of taking the number of technology parks up to 40 by December 2022.

President Dr. Arif Alvi recently said that Pakistan’s information technology sector has the potential to increase its exports to $50 billion.

Pakistan’s telecommunication, computer and information services exports during the first 11 months of fiscal year 2021-2022 surged to $2.381 billion at a growth rate of 25.45 percent in comparison to $1.898 billion during the corresponding period of last fiscal year, according to Pakistan Bureau of Statistics.