This is a best prospect industry for this country. Includes a market overview and trade data.
Pakistan’s market for computer software has seen steady growth for the past several years. According to the Pakistan Software Export Board (PSEB), the total size of the software sector is approximately $6.5 billion, which is expected to grow at least 3.5 percent in the next five years. The local software market is export-orientated; however, it is dependent on imports for the latest technologies and services. During FY 2018-19, Pakistan’s software exports were approximately $5 billion, which is 8 percent higher than the previous year. In addition, the domestic consumption of software applications supported by direct imports and local development is approximately $1.2 billion, which has declined marginally by approximately 2 percent compared to FY 2017-18. Major international software brands from the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, Spain, and China have already established a strong presence in Pakistan.
Local application developers, freelancers, and IT companies are the major driving force behind the success of the computer software sector in Pakistan. There are approximately 1,500 registered local companies involved in a variety of applications development for domestic and corporate use. The majority of high-end companies are involved in the development and distribution of enterprise resource management and customized solutions for specific industry sectors. In addition, there is a growing interest from local companies and freelancers to enter the online space, especially after the launch of 3G and 4G cellular spectrums in Pakistan. The majority of these development activities involve consumer applications based on Android or Apple platforms, website development, e-wallets/payments, e-commerce, and online gaming. Most foreign firms operate either through their appointed local distributor or by having their own office with fully-equipped technical and support teams to cater to their customers’ needs.
The Government of Pakistan on both federal and provincial levels places a high priority on the development of the IT industry, including the software development sector. According to PSEB, the government has launched several policies to encourage local and foreign companies to invest in Pakistan. Some of these incentives include: (1) 100% ownership of equity; (2) income tax exemption on IT exports revenue until June 2019;(3) 100% repatriation of profits; (4) tax holiday for venture capital funds until June 2024; (5) accelerated depreciation of 30 percent on computer equipment; (6) the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has allowed banks to open Internet Merchant Accounts; and (7) availability of instant, reliable and high-speed internet connectivity. In addition, the federal government and the private sector have made concerted efforts to improve existing internet availability and connectivity throughout the country. According to official statistics, approximately 85 percent of the local telecommunication infrastructure is via fiber-optic lines, which provides internet access to over 2000 cities and towns. In addition, the government and private sectors have initiated an aggressive strategy to develop new IT educational institutions and introduce new curriculums and short training programs to consistently maintain the local human resource pool.
The most promising sub-sectors for U.S. companies within the computer software sector for FY-2020 are:
- Company Acquisitions and Mergers
- IT Parks
- Venture Funds
- Software Companies
- Call Centers
- Gaming and Animation Studios
- Data Centers
- Training Centers
- Consulting Centers
According to the Pakistan’s Ministry of Finance, during FY 2017-18, the local economy achieved the considerable growth rate of 5.8 percent despite chronic challenges including an energy crisis and terrorism. The local software market offers substantial business opportunities for U.S. companies who offer products for the corporate sector including financial management and business forecasting, online IT training portals, e-commerce, e-payment, embedded tools, and other web-based applications.
Industry experts expressed optimism about growth prospects in the e-commerce sector, projecting $1 billion in revenue by 2020. Increased use of mobile wallets, coupled with cheaper, more reliable smartphones, has helped increase the user base for Pakistan’s ecommerce industry.