Digital transformation can help Pakistan unlock up to Rs. 9.7 trillion ($59.7 billion) in annual economic value by 2030, equivalent to about 19 percent of the country’s GDP in 2020, according to a new report commissioned by Google.
The report—released at the Google/[email protected] online event, “Unlocking Pakistan’s Digital Potential”—finds that Pakistan has a thriving technology sector. The country is home to more than 300,000 IT professionals, produces over 25,000 IT graduates annually, and has nurtured over 700 tech start-ups since 2010.
Technology exports have grown 15 percent per year since 2020 and are expected to reach $3.5 billion in 2022. Pakistan’s online population has grown rapidly, and the internet penetration rate is reaching 54 percent in 2021.
Despite these many achievements, Pakistan can go further in its digital transformation journey. The report, prepared by economists at AlphaBeta, identifies three main pillars of action Pakistan could take to reach the projected growth opportunity. This includes developing infrastructure to support the local tech ecosystem, continuing to create a conducive environment for IT export, and promoting innovation and digital skills in the country.
There are eight key technologies that hold transformative potential for businesses and workers and can create significant economic value for Pakistan. These include the mobile internet, cloud computing, big data, AI, fintech, IoT and remote sensing, advanced robotics, and additive manufacturing.
Farhan Qureshi, Regional Director Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka, Google, believes that despite the setbacks caused by the pandemic, the future for Pakistan’s digital economy is bright.
“Digital transformation is vital for Pakistan to address the long-term implications of the COVID-19 pandemic and build long-term resilience and growth. At Google, we aim to play our part by equipping Pakistanis with helpful products and tools, tech know-how, and online safety skills. Going forward, we will continue working with partners like [email protected] and the various government agencies to help fulfill the Digital Pakistan Vision” said the Country Director.
Qureshi continued, “In order to be effective, digital transformation has to be inclusive. It is essential to make digital training opportunities accessible also to underrepresented communities and vulnerable groups. We recently launched a pilot program with the National Rural Support Programme to equip more Pakistanis with online safety skills and digital literacy and reached more than 1,000 students in just two months. Our Grow with Google programme has trained over 5,500 SMEs on how to leverage digital tools to support the development of a digitally skilled workforce.”
Dr. Arif Alvi, President of Pakistan, added, “I was encouraged to see AlphaBeta’s finding that digital transformation could create Rs. 9.7 trillion in annual economic value in Pakistan by 2030. Realizing this goal and the vision of Digital Pakistan will require a whole-of-nation approach, from both the public and private sectors. The efforts of groups like Google and [email protected] will be key. It is heartening to note that, according to AlphaBeta’s report, over 410,000 jobs are supported in Pakistan’s economy through the use of Google’s products.”
Badar Khushnood, Chairman Pakistan Software Houses Association ([email protected]) for IT & IT-enabled Services (ITeS), also shared, “[email protected] represents thousands of technology companies and has been at the forefront of the #DigitalPakistan revolution. Our industry has seen record-breaking growth over the last few years, and we strive to take it to the next level. [email protected] envisions unleashing the potential of the IT and ITeS industry in Pakistan from all perspectives! To stay true to our vision, we focus on leading the industry narrative.
From policy advocacy to ecosystem enablement and in-depth research and insights, [email protected] interventions have had a significant impact over the last two decades.”
He further said, “[email protected] continues to work closely with relevant public and private sector stakeholders to not only accelerate growth in software and services exports but also fast-track digital transformation in domestic sectors of the economy as well. Google and [email protected]’s relationship continues to grow, and we look forward to further strengthening this win-win synergy for Pakistan’s brighter and more vibrant digital ecosystem.”
Krinza Momin, former GDSC Lead & Jr. Data Scientist at Afiniti, also joined the event to share her views about the Pakistan developer community. She remarked, “With the efforts that Google is plugging in for Pakistan, I am glad that we have platforms such as Google Developer Student Clubs, Google Developer Groups, Women Techmakers, and Google Developer Experts to be a part of. These programs enabled me and many others to have conversations with industry experts in Pakistan and worldwide which also created global avenues for us to learn from. Pakistan can truly position itself around startups and innovation to fuel economic prosperity and efforts like this event by [email protected] and Google make the destination one step closer.”