TEHRAN: The information and communication technologies sector in Iran is, and expected to remain, one of the largest employers in the country. ICT is not only one of the fastest growing industries, but it is also an important enabler of innovation and development. With the aim of getting an overview of the Iranian ICT sector and its role in the country’s economic development, Financial Tribune conducted an exclusive interview with Asghar Mosaheb, an official with the Ministry of Industries, Mining and Trade, at the 23rd International Exhibition of Electronics, Computer and E-Commerce (aka Elecomp 2017) held by the Iranian ICT Guild Organization at Tehran’s International Permanent Fairgrounds. The exhibition opened on July 21 and concluded on July 24.
Mosaheb said that due to its unique nature, the ICT sector can revolutionize employment trends. “Currently, ICT comprises a remarkable 10.3% share in the total number of employed throughout the country. This is while the figure stood at 0.8% at the beginning of the Fifth Five-Year Development Plan (March 2011-16). Since job creation in the field of information technology depends more on knowledge capital and needs less money resources, planning to use the country’s human assets in creating job opportunities in this area can be greatly effective, an example of which is evident in the technical and engineering services sector,” he said. He further said ICT presently has a 2.1% share in Iran’s GDP and the share is projected to reach 8% as per the Sixth Five-Year Development Plan (2017-22). In addition, the share of this sector in the value added of the country’s economy stands at 2.12%, including 1.58% for communications technology and 0.54% for information technology.
Citing Nassrollah Jahangard, the head of ICT Organization, Mosaheb said the highest rate of growth among nine economic sectors in Iran during the five development plans belongs to ICT and stands at 20%. The five-year development plans are medium-term roadmaps designed by the government to help achieve sustainable growth, the strategies for which are outlined in its budget for the plan period. Iran started drafting its development plans after the end of the Iran-Iraq war in 1988 with the first one starting in 1989. Iran is ranked 89th in the 2016 ICT Development Index with a score of 4.99, up by 1 rank compared to the 2015 ranking. The IDI is an index published by the United Nations International Telecommunications Union based on internationally agreed ICT indicators. It is a unique benchmark of the level of ICT development across the world. The IDI combines 11 indicators on ICT access, use and skills, capturing key aspects of ICT development in one measure that allows for comparisons across countries and over time.