YEREVAN — Armenia’s technology sector is continuing to grow rapidly despite the coronavirus pandemic that has plunged the country into recession, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said on Tuesday.

Pashinyan cited government data which shows the sector’s combined turnover increasing by 24 percent year on year, to $176 million, in the first half of this year.

He said the number of officially registered tech workers rose to 16,442 from 14,533 in the year-earlier period.

Many of them work for local subsidiaries of U.S. tech giants like Synopsys, National Instruments, Mentor Graphics and VMware. A growing number of other information technology (IT) engineers are employed by Armenian startups and other homegrown firms.

“The number of companies active in the sector rose by 11 percent, from 1,007 to 1,118,” Pashinian added in a Facebook post.

The official figures contrast sharply with Armenia’s overall macroeconomic performance in 2020. Its economy contracted by about 14 percent in the second quarter of the year after growing by almost 4 percent in the first quarter.

The decline followed a nationwide lockdown imposed by the Armenian government in March. Citing the continuing coronavirus crisis, the country’s Central Bank forecast last week a full-year GDP fall of 6.2 percent.

The Armenian tech industry dominated by software firms has been growing at double-digit annual rates for more than a decade, making it the fastest-growing sector of the national economy. It expanded by about 30 percent in 2019.

Industry executives say a shortage of skilled personnel is what prevents its even faster growth. They have long complained about the inadequate quality of education at information departments of Armenian universities. Many of their students require additional training after graduation.

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