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Pakistan's computer services exports soared 26% in March, 2020 over the same month last year. This growth occurred in spite of the coronavirus lockdown that began on March 23, 2020. The nation's total services exports fell 17% in the same month.
The ICT services exports bucked the overall down trend in Pakistan's exports. The country exported computer service worth $102.26 million in March, 2020, up 25.77% from $81.31 million in March, 2019. Overall telecommunications, computer and information services increased 19.44% to $134.95 million in March 2020, up from $112.99 million in March 2019. Prior to the current coronavirus lockdown, PBS reported that Pakistan's technology exports increased 26.24% in the first 8 months (July-February) of the current financial year.
The data released by the PBS showed that Pakistan earned a total amount of $887.47 million during the first eight months (July-February) of the fiscal year 2020, up from $702.99 million during the corresponding period of the fiscal year 2018-19. Computer services exports grew 31.57% to $677.23 million from July 2019 to February 2020 as compared to $514.74 million.
It is generally believed that Pakistan's PBS and central bank underestimate the country's technology exports. Some have argued that the actual IT exports were closer to $5 billion in fiscal 2018. Some of the differences can be attributed to the fact that the State Bank IT exports data does not include various non-IT sectors such as financial services, automobiles, and health care.
Pakistan has a thriving community of freelancers. Its digital gig economy growth is the fastest in Asia and fourth fastest in the world, according to digital payments platform Payoneer.
United States leads gig economy growth of 78% followed by the United Kingdom 59%, Brazil 48%, Pakistan 47% and Ukraine 36%. Asia growth was led by Pakistan followed by Philippines (35%) , India (29%) and Bangladesh (27%).
The rapid gig economy expansion of 47% in Pakistan was fueled by several factors including the country's very young population 70% of which is under 30 years of age coupled with improvements in science and technical education and expansion of high-speed broadband access. Pakistani freelancers under the age of 35 generated 77% of the revenue in second quarter of 2019.
Mohsin Muzaffar, head of business development at Payoneer in Pakistan, has said as follows: "Government investment in enhancing digital skills has helped create a skilled freelancer workforce while blanket 4G coverage across Pakistan has given freelancers unprecedented access to
In Q2/2019, Asia cemented its status as a freelancer hub. Pakistan, Bangladesh and India, Philippines made it to the top 10 list, collectively recording 238% increase from Q2/2018.
As of 2017, Pakistan freelancers ranked fourth in the world and accounted for 8.5% of the global online workforce, according to Online Labor Index compiled by Oxford Internet Institute. India led with 24% share followed by Bangladesh 16%, US 12%, Pakistan 8.5% and Philippines 6.5%.