By: Sana Mobin
People in Pakistan will not forget March 2020 when the pandemic was on the rise in Pakistan and government announced the complete Lockdown country wide and their lives were turned upside down people were forced to stay at home and practice social distancing as precautionary measures. Everything started going digital from manuals including office work, shopping for essentials, students in schools & universities had to start learning in a new digital environment.
It was actually a challenge as a country to digitize it as most people were not mentally and skill ready for this shift as they were not aware how to use Zoom, MS Teams, Google or ERP suits for work or other purposes. Working force that had started working from home was equipped with laptops and good internet connections so that this shift doesn’t impact their work. There was 52 % increase in broadband data utilization during 2020, whereas in 2021, the country’s fixed broadband entrance was recorded at 1.6 %, with 2.9 million fixed broadband subscribers. Pandemic had expanded the significance of broadband services, especially in ranges of education and health. Pakistan needs a paradigm plan within the IT segment plan that will fulfill our modern needs.
Demands for the gadgets were high and companies started investing a lot here. Digital media was on the rise so everyone wanted to drive efficiencies via digital platforms. Even the most traditional companies were forced to unfold the digital channels to keep up with their daily operations without any hassle.
It became important for all businesses to invest in latest technologies like cloud, data & cyber securities which had great impact on B2B, B2C, data analytics, process automation, e-commerce etc. Most sectors were hit badly by the wave of pandemic but few service sectors were booming like food delivery, Automobile & IT etc. Pakistan is in a transformation phase and the buying behavior of people is changing; they have started relying on digital platforms for their buying, selling & travelling activities.
At this crucial stage many startups like Grocer App, Airlift Technologies, and Bazaar Technologies emerged as game-changers. Airlift Technologies Pvt. being on top of the scoreboard got in the limelight as this Lahore-based online shopping delivery firm raised $85 million foreign funding which is the largest-ever for a Pakistani startup.
Last year, Pakistan’s export expanded 30% year-on-year whereas information technology export recorded a rise of 47%. This year, IT trades have surged 45% year-on-year so far. The export of software specialists grew by 52.72 percent, from $115.534 million to $176.534 million, among the computer-related administrations given by Pakistan. The export of administrations in general expanded by 23.20 % in the first quarter of this year compared to the same time last year. The export of administrations for July-September (2021-22) was $1572.04 million, compared to $1275.97 million in July-September (2020-21), showing a 23.20 % increase.
Pakistan Railways recently marked an agreement with a Chinese company to execute its venture around upgraded customer facilitation by using an artificial intelligence-based platform called RABTA. Rather than having to find, book, and pay for each mode of transportation independently, this platform will let customers arrange and book door-to-door ventures with a single interface. Clients can check their status, select seats, buy tickets, arrange car rental, dinners and refreshments, as well as book a hotel.
In the meantime Government of Pakistan also gave few relaxations for taxation under IT exports and electricity bills and also planning to double the IT industry within two years by establishing tech zones in different parts of the country. It’s advertising a 10-year waiver on corporate tax and imports of any gear or building material required for the zones, which are able to give Pakistan’s IT industry a start that might double its estimate to as much as $6 billion in years’ time. Pakistan is banking on the modern tech zones to create jobs for its youth. Being the third largest gig economy in the world, more foreign investors have started to invest in e-commerce startups that started during the pandemic will also need these committed zones to serve their business’s needs.
Pakistan’s tech environment is gradually picking up the energy post pandemic with the help of initiatives taken by Government & Private organisations. It is a strong tech talent base and it’s still competitively affordable. With the help of these funding and investments to boost our IT infrastructure, Pakistan can become the next huge tech market.
The writer is student of MS – Supply Chain Management Bahria University Islamabad