Experts believe that Pakistan, which has always dreamt of establishing a unicorn startup, can learn from Indonesia as both countries are considering ways to cooperate in the digital economy.
At a webinar titled “Indonesia-Pakistan IT Update: The Development and Challenges”, organised by the Indonesian Consulate General on Monday, experts revealed that Indonesia had produced seven startups – six unicorns and a decacorn, which was the highest number in the region.
Speaking at the webinar, Pakistan Software Houses Association ([email protected]) Chairman Badar Khushnood said: “Pakistan has a lot to learn from Indonesia, though both can collaborate as Pakistan has its own merits to offer”.
Indonesia Consul General in Karachi Dr June Kuncoro Hadiningrat pointed out that the consulate held various meetings with business communities in Sindh, which identified information technology as a potential sector for enhancing bilateral economic relations.
Before the Covid-19 pandemic, the IT sector had recorded an extraordinary double-digit growth, he said, adding that Pakistan’s IT sector grew more than 14% while Indonesia’s growth stood at more than 11%.
The sector employed a relatively large number of professionals, as Pakistan had more than 500,000 professionals while Indonesia had more than 894,000 professionals involved in the IT industry, he revealed.
“Pakistan is the base of the fourth largest IT freelancing industry in the world with consumers in the US, Canada, Europe, the UK and the Middle East,” he said.
Meanwhile, Indonesia was the hub of several unicorns that were connected to investors in Asia, China, Japan and the US.
“The contribution of IT sector to the national economy is still relatively modest,” he said, adding that it was 1% in Pakistan (estimated at $2.6 billion) and 3.5% in Indonesia (estimated at $39.1 billion), as per 2019 data.
Pakistan Software Export Board (PSEB) Managing Director Osman Nasir said that over the past three years Pakistan had witnessed a rapid growth in the IT sector.
“Demand has never been a challenge for us, but supply is a big issue,” he said.
Every year, Pakistan produced over 25,000 IT graduates while the demand was for 60,000 to 70,000 professionals, he said. “So, we started working with a university and introduced an associate degree.”
Access to capital for the IT sector is another challenge. “For that, we are working with several companies to get them listed on the Pakistan Stock Exchange that will solve their problem of liquidity,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 9th, 2021.