Islamabad, Sep 15 (IANS) Pakistan registered a 50 percent growth in software exports in 2005-06 at $72 million as more Western firms turned to it for IT-enabled services. Its target for fiscal 2006-07 is $108 million.
Its planners want the revenue from the IT sector to cross $9 billion in the next four years, The News International said.
The growth in business from Western companies has inspired local investors to explore new opportunities. Though Pakistan remains far behind India in telecommunications, operators believe they are 'on the right path now'.
'The good thing is that Western companies are looking at Pakistan to outsource services,' said Jehan Ara, president, Pakistan Software Houses Association.
'It's an important development as after 9/11 local companies faced a tough time in terms of winning business from these companies.'
Officials and industry players say the rising interest of Western firms in outsourcing towards Pakistan indicates the country is fast catching up with others in software development.
'We have set $108 million software export target for 2006-07,' said Yousuf Hussain, managing director of the Pakistan Software Export Board, a federal body set up to promote outsourcing and software exports.
According to parameters defined by the WTO (World Trade Organisation) regime, software exports were estimated at more than $100 million during 2005-06, but the figures registered by the State Bank put the exports at $72.6 million.
The country's software exports crossed $70 million during 2005-06 for the first time, registering a 50 percent growth, as Western firms started turning more towards Pakistan to cut costs and raise profits.
The country's IT industry has emerged as the fastest growing sector, mainly supported by a phenomenal jump in call centre operations during the last two years.
More than 140 such centres are currently operational, mainly in Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad, offering employment to around 5,000 people.
Defined as a unit, the call centres have adequate telecom facilities, trained manpower and access to database providing information to customers. The advancement in telecom technology has made it possible that the person handling a call could be anywhere provided that communication and interaction are properly handled.