With digital growth going through a rapid evolution, Pakistan is inching towards establishing a vibrant network of state-of-the-art Information Technology (IT) parks aimed at providing young professionals a launching pad to execute their innovative ideas and contribute to the national economy efficiently. The software technology parks would not only generate employment opportunities for IT professionals but also attract millions of dollars in precious foreign exchange, boost the IT industry, and increase exports, once they are completed and become fully operational. Currently, work on establishing the IT parks in Karachi at the cost of Rs. 41 billion and Islamabad at the cost of Rs 13.72 billion is underway. Experts believe that after their completion, they would provide job opportunities to around 35,000 IT professionals collectively. Federal Minister for Information Technology and Telecommunication Syed Amin-ul-Haq said the Karachi IT Park would be a gateway for an innovative future and strengthen the economy. “Karachi IT Park is the largest IT project of its kind in Pakistan, which will benefit not only the citizens of Karachi but also the IT professionals and companies of Sindh and the rest of Pakistan,” he added. The establishment of IT Park, Karachi was approved by ECNEC on June 4, 2021 at a capital cost of USD 186.658 million including USD 158.416 million from Korean Exim Bank as a loan and PSDP local share of USD 28.242 million. The project, for which land has been acquired near Jinnah International, would be completed in June 2026. A senior official of the IT Ministry the technology parks must comply with basic infrastructure requirements such as cleanliness facilities and ample working space. These should be equipped with the latest technology and telecommunication facilities that make it easy to establish and manage a business. “The main objective of technology parks is to support the creation and development of knowledge-based enterprises,” he said. The range of services offered by the parks was closely linked to the functions that they had to fulfill, he said, adding the benefits of the technology parks were not limited to enterprises and tenants of the parks, but also for companies outside the parks. The benefits of technology parks included a boost in the knowledge-based economy, entrepreneurship and the latest technologies, he said. The IT Park Karachi was an eleven-storey (8 storeys above and 3 underground floors) self-contained building having a covered area of 106,449 square meters. The Technology Park, Karachi is providing office space to approx. 225 start-ups and small to medium enterprises and other ancillary facilities like testing laboratories, classrooms, industry-academia linkage centers, auditoriums, etc. The government has invited the private sector to actively participate and play a frontline role to make the IT Park and other IT-related projects “big success stories.” The foundation stone of IT Park in Islamabad was laid in Chak Shahzad on May 6 by Minister for IT and Telecommunication Syed Amin Ul Haque, fulfilling the “Digital Pakistan Vision.” The project would be completed in 30 months with a total cost of Rs 13.72 billion. The park would not only mitigate the shortage of infrastructure for the IT sector but also facilitate technology transfer through industry and academia linkages, support technology commercialization, links tertiary education and production, and promote research and development; besides enhancing IT exports and industry competitiveness. IT Park Islamabad would consist of a twelve-storey (two basements or ground floors plus 10 storeys) self-contained building having a covered area of 66,893 square meters. Islamabad IT Park would initially provide office space to around 120 start-ups and small to medium enterprises and other ancillary facilities like testing laboratories, classrooms, industry-academia linkage centre, auditorium, etc. Currently, the total number of software technology parks (STPs) in Pakistan is 15 including three in Islamabad, two in Rawalpindi, eight in Lahore, and one each in Karachi and Gilgit. “We want to establish software technology parks in small and big cities of the country,” a senior official said, adding that the Ministry of IT’s attached department, Pakistan Software Export Board, was working to establish software technology parks in Quetta, Gwadar, Faisalabad, Bannu, Swat, Mardan, Sukkur and Hyderabad. He said an IT Park project for the University of Balochistan costing Rs one billion and the provision of fiber optic cable for Tehsil Wadh of District Khuzdar had recently been discussed. Shedding light on the performance of his ministry, Syed Amin Ul Haque said that the Ministry of IT and Telecommunication achieved many milestones in the recent past. Mentioning the projects related to ICT and connectivity, he said that the MOITT through Universal Service Fund (USF) had launched 70 projects of OFC and broadband in four provinces at a cost of Rs 65 billion. In the province of Sindh, 20 projects of NGBSD and OFC worth Rs 16.30 billion have been started so far in 20 districts, including Tharparkar, Nawabshah, Khairpur, Larkana, Badin, Jacobabad, Shikarpur, Mirpurkhas and Dadu. He said that for the first time in Pakistan, smartphone manufacturing licenses were issued, under which 29 companies were now manufacturing smartphones and digital devices in Pakistan. National Incubation Centers were established in Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, Peshawar, Quetta and recently in Faisalabad and Hyderabad as well, said. As a result of these initiatives, he said, the volume of IT exports had reached $2.62 billion which was an increase of 47 percent, while 30 software technology parks (STPs) were established across the country under public-private partnerships. With an increase of 800 per cent, the amount of investment for Pakistani start-ups had reached $818 million in 4 years, he added.