Thursday, October 22, 2009

Pakistan's $2.8 billion IT Industry

Pakistan's information technology industry is quite young. It is in very early stages of development compared to the much older and bigger Indian IT industry, which had a significant headstart of at least a decade over Pakistan. During the lost decade of the 1990s under Bhutto and Sharif governments, Pakistani economy stagnated and its IT industry did not make any headway. However, the industry has grown at 40% CAGR during the 2001-2007 period, and it is estimated at $2.8 billion as of last year, with about half of it coming from exports. This pales in comparison to over $5 billion revenue a year reported by India's Tata Consulting alone.

Here's some data on Pakistan's IT industry:

"The State Bank of Pakistan for 2007-08 reports the export figures of software and Information Technology-enabled services to be US$169 million which shows a consistent annual growth. State Bank of Pakistan adopted BPM 5 reporting system to report the IT exports revenue, which restricted the export figures to US$169 million only in 2007-08. In India, the Reserve Bank of India follows the BPM 6 (also called MSITS) Reporting System, which raises its exports to billions of US dollars. BPM 6 includes sales to multinationals, earning of overseas offices & salaries of non-immigrant overseas workers to export revenue. Using the MSITS Reporting System, Pakistan IT Industry exports are estimated at US$ 1.4 billion while the industry size is estimated at US$ 2.8 billion. It is significant to note that Pakistan IT exports growth in each of the last few years has been more than 40%."

According to a report by the Pakistan Software Export Board (PSEB), the top five companies that have contributed the most to the IT sector are Netsol Technologies(NASDAQ: NTWK), Ovex Technologies, TRG Private Ltd, Systems Private Ltd, and Elixir Technologies.

The revenue per employee for the top Indian IT firms of Wipro, Infosys and TCS ranges between $40,000 and $50,000 per employee per year...about $20 t0 $25 per hour per employee, according to Gartner. The Indian revenue per employee is quite competitive relative to the US firms IBM Global Services, EDS, ans Accenture whose revenue per employee exceeds $150,000 per year, about $75 per hour. In comparison, the average figure of $28000 per employee per year (or $14 an hour) is extremely competitive for Pakistan's IT industry average. Probably the higher-end firms make more while others make less.

Pakistani colleges and universities produce almost 1.2 million skilled graduates annually. The Musharraf government announced a $1 billion spending plan over the next decade to build 6 additional state-of-the-art science and engineering universities. If the current government follows through on it, then the scheme would be overseen by the Higher Education Commission for completion in a few years time.

In terms of enrollment, the 2005 Pakistan Education Census reported 43,801 students enrolled in 4-yr engineering institutions, another 37,635 students in 3-year colleges offering Information Technology degrees, and 69,719 studying in three-year polytechnic institutes. 53% of the students out of the total 1.16 million enrolled in colleges are girls, according to the 2005 Census.

Over 10,000 of the current 1.2 million graduates are engineers with 4-year degrees. In addition, Pakistan also produces at least 25,000 polytechnic inst graduates with three year diplomas (according to recent news in the Nation newspaper) who have less than 4 years of college.

A number of reports inflate the number of engineering graduates in India, as these numbers includes both 4 years and 2-3 years degrees. While it is claimed that India graduates over 200, 000 engineers a year, a Duke study concluded that half of these are 2 or 3-year degrees.

So, for apples to apples comparison, the number of India's engineering graduates is closer to the US's 70,000 engineering grads. And of course, the quality of US graduates is much much higher because they graduate from some of the best schools in the world. Other than about 5000 grads from IITs , the rest of Indian grads are from second and third tier schools that bear no comparison to engineering schools in the developed world in terms of quality. The cost advantage that India offers will still favor a continuing growth based on outsourcing of business and engineering services from the developed world.



Currently, Pakistan is struggling with a powerful insurgency and a stagnant economy that is taking a heavy toll on the nation. If, however, the political and military leadership succeed in creating a semblance of peace and stability in the nation of 170 million, then there can be an expectation of a bright future ahead for the IT industry in particular, and an innovation-based knowledge economy in general.

Related Links:

ICT: Hope or Hype?

Haq's Musings

Truth About India's IT Revolution

Education in Pakistan

Musharraf's Legacy

Quality of Higher Education in India, Pakistan

Pakistan's IT Industry Takes Off

Pakistan Launches UAV Production Line

Pakistan's Defense Industry Going High-Tech

Pakistan's Software Successes

Pakistan's Industrial Sector

Pakistan's Financial Services Sector

Auto Sector in India and Pakistan

Pakistan Textile Industry Woes

Pakistan Software Houses Association

118 comments:

Anonymous said...

"which had a significant headstart of at "
Pak also had a significant headstart over India in the auto industry. Japanese companies were assembling cars in Pakistan. Pak never took that opportunity to start developing auto parts industry, nor the skills. India started much later and today has a billion dollar auto part industry with exports to US auto makers (Bharatforge, Sundaram Clayton).
Now India also exports cars to Europe.
And Pak made cars. Where are they?

"So, for apples to apples comp, the number of India's engineering graduates is closer to the US's 70,000 engineering grads. And of course, the quality of US grads is much much higher because they graduate from some of the best schools in the world. Other than about 5000 grads from IITs , the rest of Indian grads are from second and third tier schools that bear no comparison to engineering schools in the developed world."

Why is it assumed that all of american schools are top class. In my working experience, a smart graduate from 2-tier or 3-tier is better than a mediocre from top univ. The indian success story in IT and Engineering is not restricted to IIT alone. Even next rung colleges like Birla Institute of Technology and even some R.E.C have produced some top class successful people.

You will not like it, but I will say that even the top most college/univ in Pakistan can only be compared with 3 tier Indian univ/colleges.

A Pakistani colleague of mine once mentioned that he worked for Habib Bank, Dubai which was the s/w development house for their European branches. Almost entire senior IT staff was filled with Indians.

Riaz Haq said...

Anon: "India started much later and today has a billion dollar auto part industry"

Pakistan's auto parts manufacturing is also a billion US dollars a year industry. Sixty percent of its output goes to the motor cycle industry, 22% is for cars, and the rest is consumed by trucks, buses & tractors.

Anon: "Why is it assumed that all of american schools are top class. In my working experience, a smart graduate from 2-tier or 3-tier is better than a mediocre from top univ."

There have been a number of studies that have concluded that, unlike in the US and Europe, there is huge gap between India's tier and tier 2 universities.

An MIT survey of human resource professionals at multinational corporations in India revealed that only one quarter of engineering graduates with a suitable degree could be employed irrespective of demand (Farrell et al., 2005). Another survey of employers shows that only a handful of the 1400 engineering schools in India are recognized as providing world-class education with graduates worthy of consideration for employment (Globalization of Engineering Services, 2006). These results suggest that engineering degrees from most Indian colleges do not provide signaling value in the engineering labor market. Hence, low quality (in the labor market sense) engineering schooling has come to predominate in the education market. The current situation, with an abundance of low quality engineering schooling, is considered problematic by many in the Indian polity and it could stifle growth of the Indian economy (Globalization of Engineering Services, 2006).

Anonymous said...

"Pakistan's auto parts manufacturing is also a billion US dollars a year industry. Sixty percent of its output goes to the motor cycle industry, 22% is for cars, and the rest is consumed by trucks, buses & tractors."

The figure I quoted was export figures. This is taken from a chinese web site
"In recent years, India's auto parts exports have maintained a more than 30 percent growth rate. In 2002, India's auto parts exports was only 578 million U.S. dollars, and by 2005 this figure had risen to 1.4 billion U.S. dollars. For example, in the past five years, only the United States from India on the procurement of auto parts from 179 million U.S. dollars to 463 million U.S. dollars (compound annual growth rate of 26.8 per cent)."

http://www.china-lutong.com/d_news/572.html

Are you saying Pak exports auto parts worth a billion dollar. Any website to back your data.

As for quality of Indian Univ,
I generally don't care much for any surveys. I go by what I see and what is actually happening.

If you are unbiased (big if), then you will agree that right from 1947 Pakistan took a wrong approach. They went for import for no transfer of technology. Take the case of building rail locomotives. It is neither as difficult as building an airplane nor is it same as making a car. No wonder there are less than 20 countries which makes locomotives. India is one of them.
In 1950s when India floated tender to build diesel locos, both GM and ALCO lobbied. GM locos were better but they refused to transfer technology. ALCO did. India learnt how to build locos and that served the vast network of Indian railways and they even export. Malaysian rail uses Indian loco. And so are many african countries.

Pak still imports and it utterly clueless about making locos. All they have in Risalpur is plant for refurbishment.

Is it any surprise that india, after many failures, now has
the skills to build rockets for moon explor. When recently NASA quoted Chandrayan for the discovery of water in Moon, it was a matter of pride for India.

WSJ reported that Japanese auto makers want to make India as the global hub for sub compact cars. Nissan is reselling Maruti Suzuki cars in Europe under their brand. What a matter of pride?

I hope each and every educated Paksitanis takes this in right spirit and hope to match India in this, instead of in nukes and missiles (which anyhow is only repainted)

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a story about the tale of two India' on the BBC South Asia website:

Bangalore is an Indian city where hi-tech and crippling poverty live side by side.

As the rate of development in Bangalore gathers pace, some fear that the many impoverished communities that also call the city home may be left behind.

Since the liberalization of the Indian economy in the 1990s, the Indian tech sector has expanded rapidly.

The major players - including Microsoft, Infosys, Cisco and Google - exist in enormous "tech parks" crammed with tall, shiny office buildings.

Meanwhile on the same block, piles of rotting rubbish, beggars and stray dogs surround traffic that is heavy with pollution and often locked in a loud and aggressive jam.

Contrast in this city is not new; the levels of poverty are growing faster than the tech industry as migrant workers from other states join the population to aid the development.

There are concerns that this impoverished population could be left behind in the city of the future, unless big businesses acknowledge that the local infrastructure is under a great deal of pressure.

Ethical business offline

Many foreign businesses have set up outsourcing hubs in Bangalore and beyond - India is a leader in this type of business.

Meanwhile non-governmental organizations and aid workers struggle to support the poorer aspects of society, and many believe that big businesses could have a more influential hand in helping those who are not doing so well out of the tech boom.

Azim Premji is the chairman of Wipro, one of the largest companies in India. He recognized the issues of his local communities and created the Azim Premji foundation.

It is a separate venture to his corporation and privately funded. It addresses methods of education in the hope that supporting youth will mean creating a better society in the long run.

Riaz Haq said...

Anon: "The figure I quoted was export figures. This is taken from a chinese web site"

No, the figure I gave you is for domestic use, and it shows the capability of Pak auto industry.

Anon: "As for quality of Indian Univ,I generally don't care much for any surveys. I go by what I see and what is actually happening."

Anecdotal evidence is no substitute for real data.

Anon: "Pak still imports and it utterly clueless about making locos. All they have in Risalpur is plant for refurbishment."

It's not necessary nor sensible for every country to manufacture everything they need.

Anon: "When recently NASA quoted Chandrayan for the discovery of water in Moon, it was a matter of pride for India.'

India couldn't have done it without NASA equipment and help in data analysis. The mission was a failure.

Anon:" instead of in nukes and missiles (which anyhow is only repainted)"

This is just nonsense perpetrated by the Indian propaganda machine. It's part of the false and racist Brahman pride to underestimate and miscalculate, something that could prove to be extremely dangerous between India and Pakistan.

Anonymous said...

"India couldn't have done it without NASA equipment and help in data analysis. The mission was a failure."

Only a Pakistani would call a mission failure when it sent close to 90% of the data for which it was sent. Your standards are very high.

"It's not necessary nor sensible for every country to manufacture everything they need."

Pak seem to carry this principle in practically everything except rudimentary things.
You didn't get it. Manufacturing skills is acquired over a period of time. Japan use to be horrible after WW2. It was americans who taught them quality management and now they can teach americans few things. You remember how bad Korean cars were in 1980s.
If Pak goes for the easy business of importing everything, well you will forever remain a technology backward country.

"This is just nonsense perpetrated by the Indian propaganda machine. It's part of the false and racist Brahman pride to underestimate and miscalculate, something that could prove to be extremely dangerous between India and Pakistan."

Your A Q Khan has himself admitted that without China there would have been no nukes and missiles.

And there is nothing wrong in having a pride, provided you achieve something. I admit Pakistanis show little arrogance, because deep down their heart they know that are a failed nation. However it is bit annoying when they expect Indians also to have a low esteem.

Anonymous said...

"A.Q. Khan, father of Pakistan's nuclear program (and midwife to a few others), likes to point out what a feat it was that a country "where we can't even make a bicycle chain" could succeed at such an immense technological task. He exaggerates somewhat: Pakistan got its bomb largely through a combination of industrial theft, systematic violation of Western export controls, and a blueprint of a weapon courtesy of Beijing."

Well AQK himself told the capability of Pakistanis. U need more proof?

http://iranandworld.com/showarticle.asp?id=4844

Anonymous said...

"Anecdotal evidence is no substitute for real data."

except if William Darrlym is telling something.

Riaz Haq said...

Anon: "Well AQK himself told the capability of Pakistanis. U need more proof?"

You only believe AQ Khan when it is convenient for you. I guess you are very selective what you believe even from someone you find is a thief with little credibility.

Riaz Haq said...

Anon: " "Anecdotal evidence is no substitute for real data."
except if William Darrlym is telling something."

I have not quoted Dalrymple as a substitute of real data from credible sources, but rather as an addition to it.

Anonymous said...

To the anon poster (presumably Indian) who wrote that manufacturing skills are gained via experience - Hats off. You are spot on.

Please be assured that there are many pakistanis (self included) who understand that India took the right approach towards industrialization and is reaping rewards as it moves up the value chain.

Pakistan, as they tend to do always, goofed up on this and surprise - they remain far behind india in manufacturing capability.

Here is one glaring example. Boeing would not trust an indian company unless it is 100% sure that the plane will not crash.

Dow Jones Newswires

MUMBAI -- Boeing Co. Thursday said it signed an agreement with Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. for part assembly of Boeing 777 aircraft.

Hindustan Aeronautics will manufacture flaperons, an airplane structure that controls its maneuverability, Boeing said in a statement.

The parts will be made in the southern city of Bangalore, Boeing said.

Write to Dow Jones Newswires editors at asknewswires@dowjones.com

Riaz Haq said...

Anon: "Please be assured that there are many pakistanis (self included) who understand that India took the right approach towards industrialization and is reaping rewards as it moves up the value chain"

As you rightly praise India's success in manufacturing, pleas find out more about Pakistan's engineering engineered goods manufacturing as well. You will find that it has a lot to offer. Here are some links:

http://www.engineeringpakistan.com/EngPak1/PakistanInvestment.pdf

http://www.alibaba.com/countrysearch/PK-suppliers/Manufacturer_of_spare_parts.html

http://www.riazhaq.com/2009/03/pakistans-growing-defense-industry.html

And look to China for inspiration. It's industrialized faster than any other nation in the history of the world. How? Check this link out:

http://www.riazhaq.com/2009/06/militarys-role-in-pakistans-industrial.html

Riaz Haq said...

In yesterday's M&A news involving NEDian and Wichorus founder Rehan Jalil, U.S. network equipment maker Tellabs Inc (TLAB.O) said on Thursday that it planned to buy wireless infrastructure gear manufacturer WiChorus for $165 million to bolster its next-generation wireless technology and take advantage of growing smartphone sales.

The move comes on the heels of an announcement by industry leader Cisco Systems Inc (CSCO.O) that it would acquire wireless gear maker Starent, a much bigger rival to privately owned WiChorus, for $2.9 billion. More deals are expected to follow.

WiChorus specializes in 3G and 4G infrastructure products, which support advanced mobile services including Internet access and mobile TV.

Wichorus maintains a development center in Karachi, Pakistan. It has a number of positions open in its Karachi office for software engineers.

Anonymous said...

http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/news/art-culture/09-waziristan-musician-prays-for-taliban-defeat--szh-06

Riaz

Do you think in this background any pakistani would like to go back to pakistan leave alone foreigner to come and invest.

Riaz Haq said...

Anon: "Do you think in this background any pakistani would like to go back to pakistan leave alone foreigner to come and invest."

Yes, I do. A number of Pakistani-Americans are contributing to Pak economy by opening offices of their companies in Karachi and hiring people there, in spite of all the problems.

Take a look at some of the firms, including Wichorus and PixSense hiring in Karachi.

The FDI in Pakistan has dropped 58% in most recent quarter because of fears but it's still a few billion dollars.

The best time to invest is when others are afraid and selling short, as happened in 2001 in Pakistan. KSE-100 increased ten fold 2001-2008. Even after 50% drop in 2008-09, those who kept the faith are still ahead by 5X.

Anonymous said...

Riaz,
It is strange.. You start article showing some data between India nad Pakistan and claiming if situation in Pakistan improves, Pkaistan will match India's software success..
The movement above argument is questioned, you present the data showing Bangalore is also city where poor people recides .. So ?? Is that stopping IBM to go there? is that stopping Society General increasing its captive presence there.. BBC is screaming about everything in SOuth Asia .. it screams about incresing Terror in pakistan and also poverty, land reforms long pending in Pakistan so lets Talk about that..
The most crucial data missing in your analysis is India's human capital.. India is successful because it got the Leaders in IT sectors .. Unless Pakistan has the system to make its own Nandan Nilkeni or Narayn Murthy or Azim premji or Shiv nadar .. you are no where .. All large companies coming to India for IT becuase its how grown companies has prooved its sucess.. India has developed its indigineous IT companies and looking at their success Global companies started coming there manily after 2000.

Anonymous said...

aniother thing is how on earth you are trying to conlcue the qualities of US engineers is much higher.. I myself an Indian done MS here in US... but I strongly disagrees .. In all my class although not me .. but 8 out of top 10 were Indians .. basically issue is In Indian school system there is special emphasis on Maths which helps students more .. another thing is even in US masters course 40 % of the students are from India. yearly about 70,000 Students come to US for masters and many of these US educated students help india once they start their career.. majority of SV indian enterpreneurs are Indian graduates & post graduated in US ..

dcruncher4 said...

"The most crucial data missing in your analysis is India's human capital.. India is successful because it got the Leaders in IT sectors .. Unless Pakistan has the system to make its own Nandan Nilkeni or Narayn Murthy or Azim premji or Shiv nadar .. you are no where .. All large companies coming to India for IT becuase its how grown companies has prooved its sucess.. India has developed its indigineous IT companies and looking at their success Global companies started "

You are 100% right. I think many Pakistanis know this but to false pride don't want to admit this in a public forum. Privately I know few Pakistanis extremely critical of Pakistan's educational standards and society in general towards meritocracy, but ask them to tell this ib public, they would shy way.

Anonymous said...

about so called china's manufacturing ability

http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/09_44/b4153036870077.htm

Riaz Haq said...

Anon: "India is successful because it got the Leaders in IT sectors .. Unless Pakistan has the system to make its own Nandan Nilkeni or Narayn Murthy or Azim premji or Shiv nadar .. you are no where"

India has had at least a decade long headstart in IT, but it does not mean Pakistan lacks the human capital or the business leaders, as you allege.

In terms of human capital, Pakistan produces about 1.2 million graduates, proportionality as many or more than India which has population about 7 times Pakistan's. of these, about 35000 have technical training.

There is one Pakistani university ranked among the top 400 by Times annual ranking, and many more are moving up in the ranks.

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of Pakistanis working for major multi-national IT consulting firms, like Accenture, IBM Global Services and EDS, now in Pakistan and Pakistan's IT revenue has grown about 40% CAGR from 2001-2008.

Riaz Haq said...

Anon: "aniother thing is how on earth you are trying to conlcue the qualities of US engineers is much higher.. I myself an Indian done MS here in US... but I strongly disagrees "

You and others who have had the opportunity to study or work in the US would in fact be considered US graduates. Among the Indian schools, only 6 of them, mostly IITs make it in the top 400 lists produced by USN&WR and Times Higher Ed Supplement. In comparison, the US and UK universities dominate with 25% American and 15% British universities making the lists.

There is only one Pakistani university ranked among the top 400 by Times and USN&WR annual rankings, and many more are moving up in the ranks. But remember, India has 7 times as many people as Pakistan.

Even higher education in India and Pakistan is essentially rote leaning that does not challenge the students to reason. As to the quality of education even at the elite IITs, let me quote Fareed Zakaria, a cheerleader for India, who said, "many of the IITs are decidedly second-rate, with mediocre equipment, indifferent teachers, and unimaginative classwork."

Riaz Haq said...

Anon: "about so called china's manufacturing ability"

The Businessweek article is not about China's manufacturing ability; it's about innovation.

The developing countries, including India and China, are essentially follower, not leaders. Their recent success is based on delivering me-too products and services at low cost, not based on original ideas and breakthroughs that they have made in science or technology or trade or management or anything else.

Developing original products and services takes several ingredients: free think and reasoning skills, high-quality education, availability of risk capital etc, the kind of ingredients that built Silicon Valley.

The Chinese are acutely aware of their shortcomings, and they are starting to address them, without political liberalization, which is a tough task. But the Chinese are building world class universities, e.g. ten of the top 200 universities are now in China, the venture capital availability is growing, and the government is encouraging private sector entrepreneurs, etc.

dcruncher4 said...

off topic but could not find a better post to send you this link.

http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=NmY3MzdiYzRmMDdmMTA2
ZjcxYTdmNGYwNDM5YTUxZDI=

regards

Riaz Haq said...

drcruncher: Thanks for sharing it. Just to make sure you know, May is a neo-con Bush-Cheney supporter of the failed US policies of the last 8 years.

Here is clip of one of May's interviews:

http://videocafe.crooksandliars.com/heather/cliff-mays-defense-cheney-maybe-sy-hershs

Now, let me share with you a link from the BBC titled "A Tale of Two Pakistans" by Mohammed Hanif, a BBC correspondent and Karachi resident writing from "the bottom of hell" with a thriving social scene.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/from_our_own_correspondent/8318121.stm

Anonymous said...

Riaz - Not wanting to start another bout of war, but isn't it a fact that the performance of second generation Indian Americans and Chinese Americans in American schools and UK schools is right at the top. We hardly hear the same about the performance of second generation muslim children from muslim countries.
Perhaps all this motivated Obama to say something about competition with Indian and Chinese children in school.
It is absolutely amazing to read about Japanese students getting coached from Indians in Maths via web.

Riaz Haq said...

Anon: "isn't it a fact that the performance of second generation Indian Americans and Chinese Americans in American schools.."

Having gone to school in US myself, and taught at Rutgers and NJIT, and having children in some of the best American schools, I do have first hand knowledge of these facts.

Yes, the Indian and Chinese kids are doing very well in US, but so are the Pakistani kids. The reason Indians and Chinese get more attention and more press is because there are so many more of them because of the size of the two nations. Each nation is least 7 times larger than Pakistan.

Anonymous said...

"I do have first hand knowledge of these facts.
"
In other words, when it suits you, personal anecdotes do become a good substitute for facts. The performane of second generation indians/chinese is recorded in studies conducted. Do you have any similar study for muslim students.

Also in UK there was a study report which showed that among south asians, second and third generation indians are far ahead of their counterpart from pak and bangladesh. In fact indians beat white britishers hands down in a report published in UK which caused some resentment against indians.

I like your spirit of supporting pakistanis and not resigning yourself to fate that pakistanis are under achievers compared to indians. But for credibility sake you have to back up your statement.

Riaz Haq said...

Anon: "Also in UK there was a study report which showed that among south asians, second and third generation indians are far ahead of their counterpart from pak and bangladesh"

The immigrants from South Asia to UK are different in terms of education levels and accomplishments than those in the United States.

A 2008 LA Times survey of Pakistani-Americans, conducted on the basis of 2000 Census, found that Californians of Pakistani descent numbered about 28,000, double the population of 1990. Community members say the figure now surpasses 40,000.

The data showed that 56 per cent had undergraduate or graduate degrees, the second-highest rate after Indian-Americans among 16 Asian subgroups examined. Nearly half were home-owners, with the median household income about $49,000, on par with the state-wide average. Two-thirds were immigrants, with a 46 per cent naturalization rate, and the majority were fluent English speakers.

The 2000 federal census counted over 18,000 Pakistanis in metropolitan Chicago, one of the largest concentrations of Pakistanis in the United States. According to the Encyclopedia of Chicago, community estimates in the late 1990s, however, ranged from 80,000 to 100,000, most of whom were either Urdu- or Punjabi-speaking Muslims. Like other South Asians, Pakistanis have commonly tended to settle in and around major urban areas, especially on the two coasts near New York and Los Angeles. Chicago and other inland cities such as Houston have also developed large and visible Pakistani communities.

Nationwide, Pakistanis appear to be prospering. The census calculated that mean household income in the United States in 2002 was $57,852 annually, while that for Asian households, which includes Pakistanis, was $70,047. By contrast, about one-fifth of young British-born Muslims are jobless, and many subsist on welfare.

Hard numbers on how many people of Pakistani descent live in the United States do not exist, but a forthcoming book from Harvard University Press on charitable donations among Pakistani-Americans, “Portrait of a Giving Community by Professor Adil Najam,” puts the number around 500,000, with some 35 percent or more of them in the New York metropolitan area. Chicago has fewer than 100,000, while other significant clusters exist in California, Texas and Washington, D.C.

Anonymous said...

You pakistanis are feeling very happy in telling lot of lies. You said except some 5000 IITians all others are just useless. You are 100% wrong.

There are totally 2200 Engineering colleges are there in 4 south indian states. Out of which some 500 colleges are having very good infrastructure , talent and etc etc. Some colleges like VIT are having better facilities then IITs.
These colleges produce best engineers and all these guys will not face any job problems due to campus interviews. Each engineering college can produce some 4500 engineers per year. Then just calculate how many engineers are coming out in each and every year in india. Even If you take 1% engineers are best brains then there is no doubt that India is the No 1 Talent provider in this world.

Javed said...

Interesting article but the 1.2 million number of graduates doesn't add up,(I know you quoted another source for this info) given Pakistan' low literacy rate. At 1.2 million/yr, 50% of our population would be university graduates by now, (don' t we wish) whereas it appears that less than that have completed primary school.

See:
www.prcdc.org/files/Pakistan.pdf

"Education
• Over 56 percent of the Pakistan’s adult population was illiterate in 2001. There was a significant gender gap with 55 percent of males and only 32 percent of females being literate. The literacy rate in urban areas is 63 percent, while in rural areas it is 34 percent.
• Only one-half of Pakistanis have ever attended school (66% of men and 34% of women); 37 percent have at least a primary education (49% of men and 25% of women)."

Riaz Haq said...

Javed,
The number of college and university graduates has steadily increased since 1947, particularly with 51 new universities and lots of new colleges established since 2003 when the HEC budget was increased more than five fold by Mush. University enrollment alone has increased sharply from 135,000 in 2003 to about 400,000 in 2008. Several hundred thousand students going for BA/Bcom/Bsc degrees in affiliated colleges are not included in this 400,000 figure. If you include Polytechnic education (3-yr), 150,000 students were admitted to various Polytechnic institutes in Punjab alone this year.

It's a tale of two Pakistans, where the primary education and schools have done badly in terms of their reach, but there has been a lot of focus and activity in this decade with lots of new colleges and universities in both public and private sectors.

Riaz Haq said...

Here is the latest teledensity data from ITU :

Both Pakistan (50/100) and Bhutan (37/100) are ahead of India (29/100) in mobile. India might soon be overtaken by Afghanistan (29/100) and even Bangladesh (28/100).

Of course, the fact that Afghanistan is ahead of Bangladesh in mobile penetration should cause all sorts of palpitations in government offices in Dhaka.

Bangladesh was one of the earliest in South Asia to adopt mobile and is the most densely populated country in the world. How they were overtaken by Afghanistan, a war-torn country with difficult terrain, should cause serious re-examination of policies such as the BDT 800 SIM tax. The fact that Afghanistan’s CAGR for 2003-08 is 109%, higher than Bangladesh’s 2003-08 CAGR of 101%, suggests that the gap between the two countries is more likely to increase than decrease.

Riaz Haq said...

A new study by the British Council says a "huge shortage" of teachers and quality institutions is hampering India despite a growing demand for English skills.

The study says China may now have more people who speak English than India.

India's emergence as a major software and IT hub has in part been possible due to its English-educated workers.

The study, English Next India, by British author David Gradoll says English is a "casualty of wider problems in Indian education".

It says: "The rate of improvement in the English language skills of the Indian population is at present too slow to prevent India from falling behind other countries which have implemented the teaching of English in primary schools sooner, and more successfully.

"China may already have more people who speak English than India."

The report says India will need many more people speaking English to sustain its economic growth.

Increasing demand for English language schools, a rising number of jobs which require English skills as well as growing social mobility are driving demand for English in India, the study says.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/8365631.stm

Anonymous said...

Hello Riaz,
Have you also read that Indian economy will be the third largest in the world by 2050 in addition to above article about the number of english speaking people.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a ranking of ease of doing business in South Asia that puts Pakistan well ahead of India:

Bangalore: The business environment in Pakistan and Bangladesh is far better than in India. According to the latest 'Doing Business Index', India's business environment has become tougher during the years compared to other nations.

Economies are ranked from one to 183 on the basis of their regulatory environment being conducive to business operations. All of India's neighbors except Afghanistan have been ranked better. While India is ranked 133, Pakistan is ranked 85th followed by Sri Lanka (105), Bangladesh (119) and Nepal (123).

"India is a consistent reformer for the past many years. A country's rank in the index is an average of 10 indicators, each with 10 percent weight in the index. India increased the number of judges in the specialized debt recovery tribunals, which led to a major removal of blockages. While India reformed in the area of insolvency, other countries reformed in more than one area," World Bank's Senior Strategy Advisor, Dahlia Khalifa told Economic Times explaining why India has been overtaken by other nations.

The 2010 Doing Business Report prepared by World Bank and the International Finance Corporation averages a country's percentile ranking on 10 topics, made up of a variety of indicators. This includes examining a country's business environment in terms of starting a business, dealing with construction permit, employing workers, registering property, getting credit, protecting investors, paying taxes, trading across borders, enforcing contracts and closing a business.

The first place is occupied by Singapore, which is followed by New Zealand, Hong Kong and the U.S.

To see complete rankings and report, click here: http://www.doingbusiness.org/EconomyRankings/"

Riaz Haq said...

For some of the posters here, let me share with you what Sean-Paul Kelly, a traveler-blogger, thinks of India, based on the recent NY Times story on "India's Innovation Envy":

Indians, it seems, aren’t lacking in the hyper-patriotic, and India certainly doesn’t lack its boosters in the West. Alas, some folks are beginning to see the light:

"BANGALORE, India — In the United States and Europe, people worry that their well-paying, high-skill jobs will be, in a word, “Bangalored” — shipped off to India.

People here are also worried about the future. They fret that Bangalore, and India more broadly, will remain a low-cost satellite office of the West for the foreseeable future — more Scranton, Pa., in the American television series “The Office,” than Silicon Valley."

Stephen Roach of Morgan Stanley-Asia has called this wage arbitrage (Roach happens to be one of the few American economists that gets it right on India). And Americans are right to worry about this. It’s put downward pressure on services as varied as call-centers and tech support, to financial news reporting, X-ray and MRI interpretation and accounting. I would be especially worried if I were an accountant. But then again, many of the big firm accountants need not be worried, as their shilling game for Wall Street will protect them. For a time.

"Even as the rest of the world has come to admire, envy and fear India’s outsourcing business and its technological prowess, many Indians are disappointed that the country has not quickly moved up to more ambitious and lucrative work from answering phones or writing software. Why, they worry, hasn’t India produced a Google or an Apple?"

Wait a second. India does not have any technological prowess in the true sense of the word. After all, if they did, why would the Ambassador, a car model over fifty years old, made of the heaviest steel imaginable, and horribly inefficient be the best selling domestically produced car in India, still. The Nano notwithstanding.

"Innovation is hard to measure, but academics who study it say India has the potential to create trend-setting products but is not yet doing so. Indians are granted about half as many American patents for inventions as people and firms in Israel and China. The country’s corporate and government spending on research and development significantly lags behind that of other nations. And venture capitalists finance far fewer companies here than they do elsewhere."

Re-read that graph closely and you’ll begin to get an idea of the hurdles India faces. And hurdles it is doing nothing, absolutely nothing to overcome. Instead of using its domestic capital for something like infrastructure building, local elites continue to siphon it all off and live behind huge fenced in compounds paying dalits pitiful, barely life-sustaining wages.

Riaz Haq said...

How would Pakistan respond in the event of an Indian air strike? Here's a report on an interesting war game in Washington:

Early last year a group of Indian and Pakistan retired generals and strategic experts sat down for a war-gaming exercise in Washington. The question, predictably enough, was at what point during a conventional war, would the generals in Rawalpindi GDQ reach for the nuclear trigger.

In the event, the simulated war took on an unpredictable turn, which in some ways was more illuminating than the question of nuclear escalation, as columnist Ashok Malik writes in The Great Divide:India and Pakistan, a collection of essays by experts on both sides of the border.

The exercise begins with an Indian military strike on militant camps in Pakistani Kashmir, the most commonly envisaged scenario for the next India-Pakistan war. But the Pakistan response defies conventional logic . They don’t order a military push into Indian Punjab and Rajasthan, they don’t even attack Bombay High, the most valuable Indian oil asset in the Arabian Sea, and well within striking distance of the Pakistani Air Force.

Instead PAF planes fly all way to Bangalore, deep in the Indian south, to attack the campus of Infosys, the much celebrated Indian IT company.

Strange choice of target ? By all military logic it would seem so. It’s not like all of India would be crippled if Infosys were attacked, they don;’t run Indian IT infrastructure. Even the company itself might not suffer lasting damage. Its data would probably be stored in locations elsehwere too, and it wouldn’t take it long to rebuild the campus. Besides. the Pakistani planes would be almost certain to be shot down on their way back, if they managed to penetrate this far in on what seems like a suicide mission.

So why Bangalore, and Infosys? Malilk quotes a Pakistani participant as saying they chose the target because it is an “iconic symbol” of India’s IT prowess and economic surge. The idea was to strike at India’s economic growth and great power aspirations. A raid on the Infosys campus, visited by heads of states and corporate leaders, would underline the dangers of business in India and remind the world that for all its new-found success, it remained a nation of contradictions, and at heart, unstable.

Many people in the room were not convinced by the Pakistani choice. It still seemed more like an academic exercise than anything rooted in military reality. But in the aftermath of the Mumbai attacks later that year, and in the light of renewed warnings this week by Israeli intelligence of another Mumbai-like attack coming in the next few weeks, it is clear that India’s vulnerability appears to be in economic, rather than purely military, targets.

Indeed last year when tensions rose following the Mumbai attack and there was talk of an Indian military response, it was Pakistan’s former chief of intelligence Hamid Gul who warned of Pakistan hitting back where it would hurt the most. India’s so-called Silicon Valley will go up in smoke, Gul is widely quoted to have told CNN, if the Indians sent troops to the border.

Riaz Haq said...

I have a feeling that this war game exercise in Washington by the former Indian and Pakistani generals was meant to confuse each other about the real war plans, which is what it did. With a significant ballistic missile arsenal that can be used to deliver conventional warheads over long distances accurately, why would the Pakistanis need to use aircraft and risk losing both the pilot and the aircraft deep inside enemy territory, and not hit the intended target?

Riaz Haq said...

Here is a NY Times story on how China is luring top Chinese-American scientists from US:

BEIJING — Scientists in the United States were not overly surprised in 2008 when the prestigious Howard Hughes Medical Institute in Maryland awarded a $10 million research grant to a Princeton University molecular biologist, Shi Yigong.

Dr. Shi’s cell studies had already opened a new line of research into cancer treatment. At Princeton, his laboratory occupied an entire floor and had a $2 million annual budget.
----------------------------“He was one of our stars,” Robert H. Austin, a Princeton physics professor, said by telephone. “I thought it was completely crazy.”

China’s leaders do not. Determined to reverse the drain of top talent that accompanied its opening to the outside world over the past three decades, they are using their now ample financial resources — and a dollop of national pride — to entice scientists and scholars home.

The West, and the United States in particular, remain more attractive places for many Chinese scholars to study and do research. But the return of Dr. Shi and some other high-profile scientists is a sign that China is succeeding more quickly than many experts expected at narrowing the gap that separates it from technologically advanced nations.

China’s spending on research and development has steadily increased for a decade and now amounts to 1.5 percent of gross domestic product. The United States devotes 2.7 percent of its G.D.P. to research and development, but China’s share is far higher than that of most other developing countries.
-------------
Quantity is not quality, and despite its huge investment, China still struggles in many areas of science and technology. No Chinese-born scientist has ever been awarded a Nobel Prize for research conducted in mainland China, although several have received one for work done in the West. While climbing, China ranked only 10th in the number of patents granted in the United States in 2008.

Chinese students continue to leave in droves. Nearly 180,000 left in 2008, almost 25 percent more than in 2007, as more families were able to pay overseas tuition. For every four students who left in the past decade, only one returned, Chinese government statistics show. Those who obtained science or engineering doctorates from American universities were among the least likely to return.

Recently, though, China has begun to exert a reverse pull. In the past three years, renowned scientists like Dr. Shi have begun to trickle back. And they are returning with a mission: to shake up China’s scientific culture of cronyism and mediocrity, often cited as its biggest impediment to scientific achievement.

They are lured by their patriotism, their desire to serve as catalysts for change and their belief that the Chinese government will back them.

“I felt I owed China something,” said Dr. Shi, 42, who is described by Tsinghua students as caring and intensely driven. “In the United States, everything is more or less set up. Whatever I do here, the impact is probably tenfold, or a hundredfold.”

He and others like him left the United States with fewer regrets than some Americans might assume. While he was courted by a clutch of top American universities and rose swiftly through Princeton’s academic ranks, Dr. Shi said he believed many Asians confronted a glass ceiling in the United States.
....................

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a BBC report about downgrading of 44 universities in India:

Students in India are protesting against the government's decision to strip 44 places of learning of their official university status.

The move follows a review which found the institutions were unable to provide proper educational facilities.

Nearly 200,000 students are enrolled in such establishments across India.

The government has said it will take steps to ensure the decision does not jeopardise the future of students currently studying at the universities.

Worried

The move sparked angry protests.

Students at the Savita School of Engineering in the southern city of Madras (Chennai) smashed furniture after hearing of the government decision.

Students say they are worried the order will affect their future prospects, but the authorities sought to reassure them.

"We will take care of all students who are in those 44 universities. The government's intention is to make sure not a single child will be affected," said federal Human Resources Development Minister Kapil Sibal.

His ministry, which looks after education, says the decision is based on recommendations made by a special task force.

"The review committee came across several aberrations in the functioning of some of the institutions deemed to be universities," the government said in a report to the Supreme Court on Monday.

Most of the 44 universities concerned offer post-graduate and undergraduate courses.

They include three government-sponsored institutes, including the Nava Nalanda in Bihar, the National Museum Institute of the History of Art, Conservation and Museology in Delhi, and the Rajiv Gandhi National Institute of Youth Development in Sriperumbudur in the southern state of Tamil Nadu.

Anonymous said...

Indian engineers are the best in the world and working in the best companies weather in india or in abroad weather in satyam, wipro, infosys TCS and enven in IBM, Microsoft and many other companies you will find indian engineers...

Riaz Haq said...

According to the World Economic Forum's Global IT Report 2010, Pakistan has jumped 11 places to 87 from 98 on a list of 133 economies.

Here's how Telecomnewspk.com reports it:

“It is evident that technology is playing a leading role in accelerating economic growth and promoting development,” said Competitiveness Support Fund (CSF) Chief Executive Officer Arthur Bayhan. CSF, a partner institute of WEF, is a joint initiative of the Ministry of Finance, government of Pakistan and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), established to reposition Pakistan’s economy on a more competitive global footing.

Bayhan pointed out that CSF has carried out a policy action plan in 2008-09 to mobilise a dialogue across the telecommunication value chain to define the challenges that confront Pakistan’s telecom and IT industry and to address these challenges. The exercise resulted in an action agenda to tackle constraints and better position the ICT sector in Pakistan to take advantage of opportunities for growth.

“Now within 18 months of the exercise, many of the suggested initiatives and recommendations have taken effect so as to reshape the telecom industry in the most efficient and effective manner. CSF believes that through this focused initiative it has helped transform the Pakistan telecom domain,” Bayhan said.

Published for the ninth consecutive year with an extensive coverage of 133 economies worldwide, the Global IT Report remains the world’s most comprehensive and authoritative international assessment of the impact of ICT on the development process and the competitiveness of nations.

Pakistan has fared particularly well in the sub-indexes of Individual Readiness – mobile cellular tariffs (8) and residential telephone connection charge (11) while under the sub-index of Business Readiness the country does good in business telephone connection charge (15) and business monthly telephone subscription (17).

A marked improvement has been seen in Pakistan’s capacity for innovation, which has gone up from 73 last year, to 56 this time but it still requires further improvement. There have been slight improvements in quality of educational systems, up from 104 last year to 99, internet access in schools improving by six places to 75 and company spending on R&D getting better by six places to stand at 80. One of the recommendations put forward by CSF in the action plan was that the telecom operators in Pakistan adopt strategies for creating a conducive and competitive infrastructure cost sharing environment. Accordingly, major cellular operators of the country have signed agreements to get involved in infrastructure cost sharing thereby reducing infrastructure duplication and costs, noted Bayhan. CSF also recommended amplifying the bundled offers like voice and SMS with value-added services like MMS, Mobile TV, Mobile Banking, GPRS etc.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt from Pakistan's consumer electronics market report:

Pakistan’s consumer electronics market, defined as the addressable market for computing devices, mobile handsets and AV products, is projected to be worth around US$1.6bn in 2010. Underlying demand will grow at a CAGR of about 7%, but spending will be restrained by a sizable grey market of smuggled or illegally assembled products.
The market’s considerable potential is currently depressed by a large grey market, poor IP protection, an unstable economic and security situation and weak distribution channels. Growth will be driven, however, by improved ICT infrastructure, and more credit availability. Reform of often high national and provincial taxes and tariffs on products ranging from computers to prepaid mobile cards would also boost the market.
Computer Computers accounted for around 18% of Pakistan’s consumer electronics spending in 2009. BMI forecasts Pakistan’s domestic market computer sales (including notebooks and accessories) of US$283mn in 2010, up from US$264mn in 2009. Computer hardware CAGR for the 2010- 2014 period will be around 7%. The abolition in September 2009 of a minimum sales tax on imported computers should boost the market.
AV AV devices accounted for around 40% of Pakistan’s consumer electronics spending in 2008. Pakistan’s domestic AV device market is projected at US$632mn in 2010. The market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 11% between 2010-2014, to a value of US$946mn in 2014. TV sets remain the core product in this category, but the growing availability of smuggled colour televisions is a market inhibitor.
Mobile Handsets Pakistan’s market handset sales are expected to grow at a CAGR of 1% to 18.8mn units in 2014, as mobile subscriber penetration reaches 91%. Revenue growth will be slower due to lower average selling prices (ASPs) of mobile handsets, with most handsets sold at a under US$40 price-point. Another issue is a declining growth rate of mobile subscriber penetration, which is now above 60%.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a report estimating Pakistan's ICT industry at $12 billion in Pakistan:

KARACHI (APP) - The overall size of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) industry in Pakistan has crossed more than $ 12 billion, of which $ 1 billion is foreign direct investment (FDI).
This was stated by the Advisor to PM on Information Technology Sardar Latif Khan Khosa while speaking at the inauguration of 5th Information & Communications Technology Exhibition and Conference - CONNECT 2010 at Karachi Expo Centre here Saturday.
He said Pakistan has one of the fastest growing the tele-density in the world, accelerating at a rate of 63.5 percent, while the neighbouring India is just 37 percent.
Khosa said there are more than 95 million mobile connections in the country and are still growing in numbers. This is exponential growth as mobile telephone market has seen a 14-fold increase since the year 2000, he added.
He said this signifies the importance of ICT sector and the further potential it holds for country’s economy.
He said CONNECT brings to Pakistan a focused event in the dynamic fields of IT and telecom and provides a unique platform to the companies to showcase their products and services.
The Advisor called upon IT professional to reach out entire Pakistan and spread IT in every nook and corner so that the people can take benefit of this dynamic technology.
He also supported the idea for a greater cooperation and interaction between the government, industry and academia to get maximum benefits of information technology. The Advisor pointed out PPP provides a platform for the promotion of IT in the country under its manifesto which envisages support for right of information to the people. This is the vision of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto for IT and other sectors, he added. Later, taking to media, Sardar Khosa said the government has again invited foreign IT companies to restart their business in Khyber-Pukhtunkhawa and Balochistan.
I have asked these companies to identify the quantum of damage to their infrastructure in Khyber-Pukhtunkhawa area due to on-going war on terror. They are also seeking a price differential for broad band expansion, but we have asked them to first start rehabilitation of their infrastructure and we have assured them to look into their demands.

Maurya said...

Good work Riaz, Pakistan needs some positive information and positive re branding to get out of the vicious cycle of insurgency and military coups. Though many of your claims are slightly pepped up and biased (selectively picking negative articles about India and positive ones about Pak) overall you are doing a good job providing information about Pakistani IT industry. I am an Indian and I am only happy if my troubled neighbour could develop a strong IT industry providing much needed jobs to young generation.
But I would like to correct some misleading information in your posts.
1) Number of engineering grads in India- You claimed it is close to 100 000 and out of which only 5000 or so IIT students can be called world class and rest rubbish.
Not at all correct, small sate of Kerala (population 3 crore) alone has 30000 engineering seats. Big states like Tamil Nadu, Andra pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra etc has more than 100 000 engineering seats in EACH states. So overall engineering seats in India must come close to a million (4 years engineering). Remember Pakistan with a population for 15 crore has only 10000 engineering seats. IITs (including newly established), NITs (several), BITS pilani, IIITs(several) all are FIRST Tier and world class. Please see the latest top 50 engg college list by Outlook Magazine http://www.outlookindia.com/article.aspx?265887 , most of the new colleges are corporate backed and well funded and definitely are world class. So I would rather say
India produces anywhere between 100 000 to 200 000 WORLD class engineering graduates from these world class institutes. By comparison Pakistan has 10000 Engineering seats and let’s say 25% of these are world class students? So that number would be a mere 2500 students a year! The purpose of this post is not to put down Pakistani IT industry but to correct the misleading facts.

Riaz Haq said...

Maurya: "The purpose of this post is not to put down Pakistani IT industry but to correct the misleading facts. "

All the data and the facts are based on credible sources, such as a Duke University study conducted to check inflated claims of number of engineering graduates in various countries, including India and China.

Some of the recent decisions of Indian govt to act against several Indian institutions bear out the concern about the quality of education and degrees awarded by them.

Riaz Haq said...

India's IT "miracle" is essentially driven by low level call center business, first-line tech support, simple repetitive code writing and run pre-defined testing. The best description of the typical Indian tech worker is "Cyber Coolie". It was coined by an astute Indian columnist Praful Bidwai back in 2003.

Another Indian Harish Trivedi of Delhi University has characterized India's call centers as "brutally exploitative" and its employees as "cyber coolies of our global age, working not on sugar plantations but on flickering screens, and lashed into submission through vigilant and punitive monitoring, each slip in accent or lapse in pretence meaning a cut in wages."

An Indian blogger Siddarth Singh says that "one cannot dispute the fact that our IT industry is at best a glorified labor provider, and our feted “IT Giants” have failed to provide even a single proprietary product which could create waves in the global IT industry (perhaps except Finacle, a banking and finance solution by Infosys, and which is used by a number of MNC banks around the globe).

Siddarth asks the question, "So, what does Indian industry actually excel at?" Then he offers the following answer: "Well, we are the leaders in the so called IT Enabled Services, or ITES. These are basically services such as BPOs, call centers, KPOs etc, which extensively use IT to provide backend and customer services to primarily overseas customers. That our ITES industry is hugely dependent on foreign clients is also not a secret anymore, with hardly any Indian company enlisting the services of such companies".

A recent letter from a Bangalore based Indian IT worker addressed to the editors "The Hindu" newspaper read as follows:

This is how people in the West have started referring to people in developing nations. In the old days, of course, we Indians were referred to as "coolies" because we provided cheap labour. Nowadays, we are being called "cyber coolies".

Why? Because most software companies find it cheaper to get their job done in countries like India and other developing nations. There are many people in the U. S. and Britain who raise a hue and cry when jobs get exported to countries like India — especially jobs related to call centres and the software industry.

The fact that they refer to us as coolies shows that they haven't lost their imperialist outlook....


People and the media are often fooled by "R&D" in the name of some of the western companies locations in Bangalore.

In reality, Bangalore is the code coolie capital of the world...it's not about tech, it's about cheap labor performing low-level tasks at rock-bottom wages. It's just cost arbitrage in the service sector.

I have no doubt there are some smart techies in India doing leading edge work, but these are exceptions. The overwhelming majority of the so-called IT work in India is call centers or low-level routine software tech support, maintenance, testing, etc. which is widely described as code coolie work. It's mostly about cost arbitrage, not advanced tech.

Related Links:

ICT: Hope or Hype?

Truth About India's IT Revolution

Riaz Haq said...

India's IT "miracle" is essentially driven by low level call center business, first-line tech support, simple repetitive code writing and run pre-defined testing. The best description of the typical Indian tech worker is "Cyber Coolie". It was coined by an astute Indian columnist Praful Bidwai back in 2003.

Harish Trivedi of Delhi University has characterized India's call centers as "brutally exploitative" and its employees as "cyber coolies of our global age, working not on sugar plantations but on flickering screens, and lashed into submission through vigilant and punitive monitoring, each slip in accent or lapse in pretence meaning a cut in wages."

An Indian blogger Siddarth Singh says that "one cannot dispute the fact that our IT industry is at best a glorified labor provider, and our feted “IT Giants” have failed to provide even a single proprietary product which could create waves in the global IT industry (perhaps except Finacle, a banking and finance solution by Infosys, and which is used by a number of MNC banks around the globe).

Siddarth asks the question, "So, what does Indian industry actually excel at?" Then he offers the following answer: "Well, we are the leaders in the so called IT Enabled Services, or ITES. These are basically services such as BPOs, call centers, KPOs etc, which extensively use IT to provide backend and customer services to primarily overseas customers. That our ITES industry is hugely dependent on foreign clients is also not a secret anymore, with hardly any Indian company enlisting the services of such companies".

A recent letter from a Bangalore based Indian IT worker addressed to the editors "The Hindu" newspaper read as follows:

This is how people in the West have started referring to people in developing nations. In the old days, of course, we Indians were referred to as "coolies" because we provided cheap labour. Nowadays, we are being called "cyber coolies".

Why? Because most software companies find it cheaper to get their job done in countries like India and other developing nations. There are many people in the U. S. and Britain who raise a hue and cry when jobs get exported to countries like India — especially jobs related to call centres and the software industry.

The fact that they refer to us as coolies shows that they haven't lost their imperialist outlook....

People and the media are often fooled by "R&D" in the name of some of the western companies locations in Bangalore.

In reality, Bangalore is the code coolie capital of the world...it's not about tech, it's about cheap labor performing low-level tasks at rock-bottom wages. It's just cost arbitrage in the service sector.

I have no doubt there are some smart techies in India doing leading edge work, but these are exceptions. The overwhelming majority of the so-called IT work in India is call centers or low-level routine software tech support, maintenance, testing, etc. which is widely described as code coolie work. It's mostly about cost arbitrage, not advanced tech.

Riaz Haq said...

In Awakening Giants, Feet of Clay: Assessing the Economic rise of China and India, Mr Bardhan says it is not clear whether economic reforms are mainly responsible for the recent high growth in India.

Reforms have made the country's corporate sector more vibrant and competitive. But, he says, most of the Indian economy is not in the corporate sector, which absorbs only 6% of India's labour force. The fast growing info-tech sector - India's pride- employs less than 1% of India's workforce. Services - financial business services and telecommunications where reforms may have made a significant impact - constitute only about a quarter of the total service sector output. "It is yet to be empirically and convincingly demonstrated how the small corporate sector benefiting from reforms pulled up a vast informal sector," says Mr Bardhan.

Globalisation's impact on economies has been a divisive issue with economists. Some say it sharpened inequities and made the poor poorer; others believe it has pulled lots of people out of poverty.

Mr Bardhan isn't very sure about either.

He cites India's national household data, which suggests that poverty did not decline sharply in 1993-2005, when India experienced extensive opening up of its economy. Social indicators like child health remained - and remain - abysmally poor. At the same time, the growth rate in agriculture, where most of the poor work, has declined somewhat in the past decade. This is largely because of the decline of public investment in farm infrastructure and has nothing to do with globalisation, argues the economist.

Globalisation also does not appear to have helped in boosting India's social development indicators, Bardhan suggests. How else can one explain that Gujarat, the country's richest, high-growth, reform-friendly state, has a higher percentage of underweight children than sub-Saharan Africa?

Mr Bardhan suggests China's stunning growth rates (9% on an average) in the early years of liberalisation - 1978 to 1993 - happened because of domestic factors - farms reforms, distribution of land cultivation rights - which raised rural incomes.

Also, contrary to popular perception, China's growth has not been primarily export driven, the book argues. Bardhan shows how domestic investment and consumption have been the main drivers of China's growth. No doubt globalisation and economic reforms have trigged off economic growth but, as Bardhan argues, most of us may have overstated their importance.

Source: Biswas on BBC.com

Riaz Haq said...

UNDP publishes the Education Index which is measured by the adult literacy rate (with two-thirds weighting) and the combined primary, secondary, and tertiary gross enrollment ratio (with one-third weighting). The adult literacy rate gives an indication of the ability to read and write, while the GER gives an indication of the level of education from kindergarten to postgraduate education.

On this UNDP education index, Pakistan scores 0.665 and ranks 137, ahead of India's score of 0.638 and ranking of 142nd.

Riaz Haq said...

It appears that Stuxnet worm was designed, developed and released by western and-or Israeli intelligence agencies to sabotage industrial systems at Iranian nuclear facilities. Here's a CNET report:

Iran's official news agency said today that a sophisticated computer worm purportedly designed to disrupt power grids and other such industrial facilities had infected computers at the country's first nuclear-power plant but had not caused any serious damage.

The Stuxnet worm, which some see as heralding a new era of cyberwarfare, appeared in July and was already known to be widespread in Iran. In fact, its high concentration there, along with a delay in the opening of the Bushehr plant, led one security researcher to hypothesize that Stuxnet was created to sabotage Iran's nuclear industry.

In addition to emphasizing the threat posed by the worm, which could be used to remotely seize control of industrial systems, today's news could well add to speculation about Stuxnet, the sophistication of which has caused some to suspect that a nation state, such as Israel or the U.S., might be behind its creation.

The worm exploits three holes in Windows, one of which has been patched, and targets computers running Siemens software used in industrial control systems.

Mahmoud Jafari, the project manager at the Bushehr plant, said the worm "has not caused any damage to major systems of the plant" and that a team was working to remove it from several computers, according to Iran's IRNA news agency, which was cited in a report by the Associated Press.

Jafari said the infection involved the personal computers of several staff members working at Bushehr and would not affect plans to open the nuclear plant in October, the AP reported.


Read more: http://news.cnet.com/8301-1009_3-20017651-83.html#ixzz11GhExJ8o

Riaz Haq said...

Here are a few excerpts from a piece by Prof William Easterly published in Foreign Policy Magazine:

"We found that there was a remarkably strong association between countries with the most advanced technology in 1500 and countries with the highest per capita income today. Europe already had steel, printed books, and oceangoing ships then, while large parts of Africa did not yet have writing or the wheel. Britain had all 24 of our sample technologies in 1500. The Democratic Republic of the Congo, Papua New Guinea, and Tonga had none of them. But technology also travels. North America, Australia, and New Zealand had among the world's most backward technology in 1500; today, they are among the wealthiest regions on Earth, reflecting the principle that it's the people who matter, not the places. As migration has transformed parts of the world that were nearly empty in the Middle Ages, technology has migrated with them. "

"OF COURSE, IN SOCIAL SCIENCE, no generalization is universal. The most important counterexample is China, which in 1500 had plow cultivation, printing, paper, books, firearms, the compass, iron, and steel, and yet failed to emulate Europe's Industrial Revolution in the centuries that followed. Scholars have argued that autocratic Chinese emperors killed off technological progress for domestic political reasons. For example, one Ming emperor banned long-distance oceanic exploration for fear of foreign influence threatening his power, after Chinese ships had already reached East Africa in 1422."

"This gives us a hint as to how political formation affects development: Fragmented Europe did not have any one autocrat who could kill off technological innovation, and the constant threats of living in a hostile neighborhood spurred the advancement of military technology. And because borders were relatively open around 1500, the reality that citizens could leave for more advanced places -- the forerunner of today's "brain drain" -- kept alive the spirit of innovation. "

"Most importantly, what the history of technology tells us is that the blank-slate theory is a myth. Top-down development programs simply don't work. In fact, the principal beneficiaries of Western largesse today -- African autocrats and dysfunctional regimes -- are themselves the main obstacles to development. If there's anything that "must be done" to spur future development, it's to create the conditions necessary to empower the ordinary individuals who will create new and unforeseen technologies out of old ones. There's a Thomas Edison born every minute. We just have to help them turn the lights on."

Riaz Haq said...

After agriculture, textile sector is the second largest employer in India. Here are excerpts from a NY Times report on how the situation is changing in Coimbatore, a big textile center in Tamil Nadu:

The clear losers of India’s currency approach right now are garment makers. From April to August, exports were down 6.4 percent from a year earlier in the $10 billion Indian clothing industry. Although it represents only about 1 percent of the nation’s economy, the garment industry is India’s largest employer after agriculture.

“All the other countries are protecting their currencies, so why are we not?” said Premal Udani, chairman of India’s Apparel Export Promotion Council.

Indian policy makers are eager enough for foreign investment that, for now at least, they are willing to endure the damage a stronger rupee inflicts on exports, especially for lower-value goods like clothes. Exports of other Indian goods and services, like software and pharmaceuticals, have not been as hard hit because they are not as price-sensitive.

India also places a premium on the higher-value jobs that are fueled by foreign investment. Not far from where that old textile mill once stood, the German engineering company Bosch and the American software concern Perot Systems have opened offices in a new technology park.

The influx of capital has helped fuel a nearly 9 percent annual growth rate for India’s economy. It has also powered the Indian stock market to near record highs. A big beneficiary of the stock rally has been the government, which is selling shares in state-owned firms like Coal India, the world’s largest coal miner.

The government, which has a large budget deficit, plans to raise $9 billion in the current fiscal year from share sales and spend the money on jobs for the rural poor and other welfare programs. A stronger rupee also reduces India’s bill for commodities, like oil, that it needs to import.

“If India is to sustain 8 percent growth or 9 percent growth, the only constraint on that can be capital,” said Nikhil Chaturvedi, managing director of Prozone, the Indian real estate firm that is building the Alliance Mall development. “Free flow of capital should be allowed in all sectors” of the economy, he said.

Mr. Chaturvedi, whose joint venture partner in the Alliance Mall is the London-based Capital Shopping Centers, said an appreciating rupee must be tolerated as an unpleasant side effect of the flow of foreign capital.

Riaz Haq said...

After agriculture, textile sector is the second largest employer in India, according to fiber2fashion.com :

The Textile Sector in India ranks next to Agriculture. Textile is one of India’s oldest industries and has a formidable presence in the national economy in as much as it contributes to about 14 per cent of manufacturing value-addition, accounts for around one-third of our gross export earnings and provides gainful employment to millions of people. The textile industry occupies a unique place in our country. One of the earliest to come into existence in India, it accounts for 14% of the total Industrial production, contributes to nearly 30% of the total exports and is the second largest employment generator after agriculture.

About 27% of India's foreign exchange earnings are on account of export of textiles and clothing alone. The textiles and clothing sector contributes about 14% to the industrial production and 3% to the gross domestic product of the country. Around 8% of the total excise revenue collection is contributed by the textile industry. So much so, the textile industry accounts for as large as 21% of the total employment generated in the economy. Around 35 million people are directly employed in the textile manufacturing activities. Indirect employment including the manpower engaged in agricultural based raw-material production like cotton and related trade and handling could be stated to be around another 60 million.


Here are excerpts from a NY Times report on how the situation is changing in Coimbatore, a big textile center in Tamil Nadu:

The clear losers of India’s currency approach right now are garment makers. From April to August, exports were down 6.4 percent from a year earlier in the $10 billion Indian clothing industry. Although it represents only about 1 percent of the nation’s economy, the garment industry is India’s largest employer after agriculture.

“All the other countries are protecting their currencies, so why are we not?” said Premal Udani, chairman of India’s Apparel Export Promotion Council.

Indian policy makers are eager enough for foreign investment that, for now at least, they are willing to endure the damage a stronger rupee inflicts on exports, especially for lower-value goods like clothes. Exports of other Indian goods and services, like software and pharmaceuticals, have not been as hard hit because they are not as price-sensitive.

India also places a premium on the higher-value jobs that are fueled by foreign investment. Not far from where that old textile mill once stood, the German engineering company Bosch and the American software concern Perot Systems have opened offices in a new technology park.

The influx of capital has helped fuel a nearly 9 percent annual growth rate for India’s economy. It has also powered the Indian stock market to near record highs. A big beneficiary of the stock rally has been the government, which is selling shares in state-owned firms like Coal India, the world’s largest coal miner.

The government, which has a large budget deficit, plans to raise $9 billion in the current fiscal year from share sales and spend the money on jobs for the rural poor and other welfare programs. A stronger rupee also reduces India’s bill for commodities, like oil, that it needs to import.

“If India is to sustain 8 percent growth or 9 percent growth, the only constraint on that can be capital,” said Nikhil Chaturvedi, managing director of Prozone, the Indian real estate firm that is building the Alliance Mall development. “Free flow of capital should be allowed in all sectors” of the economy, he said.

Riaz Haq said...

After agriculture, textile sector is the second largest employer in India, according to fiber2fashion.com :

The Textile Sector in India ranks next to Agriculture. Textile is one of India’s oldest industries and has a formidable presence in the national economy in as much as it contributes to about 14 per cent of manufacturing value-addition, accounts for around one-third of our gross export earnings and provides gainful employment to millions of people. The textile industry occupies a unique place in our country. One of the earliest to come into existence in India, it accounts for 14% of the total Industrial production, contributes to nearly 30% of the total exports and is the second largest employment generator after agriculture.

About 27% of India's foreign exchange earnings are on account of export of textiles and clothing alone. The textiles and clothing sector contributes about 14% to the industrial production and 3% to the gross domestic product of the country. Around 8% of the total excise revenue collection is contributed by the textile industry. So much so, the textile industry accounts for as large as 21% of the total employment generated in the economy. Around 35 million people are directly employed in the textile manufacturing activities. Indirect employment including the manpower engaged in agricultural based raw-material production like cotton and related trade and handling could be stated to be around another 60 million.


Here are excerpts from a NY Times report on how the situation is changing in Coimbatore, a big textile center in Tamil Nadu:

The clear losers of India’s currency approach right now are garment makers. From April to August, exports were down 6.4 percent from a year earlier in the $10 billion Indian clothing industry. Although it represents only about 1 percent of the nation’s economy, the garment industry is India’s largest employer after agriculture.

“All the other countries are protecting their currencies, so why are we not?” said Premal Udani, chairman of India’s Apparel Export Promotion Council.

Indian policy makers are eager enough for foreign investment that, for now at least, they are willing to endure the damage a stronger rupee inflicts on exports, especially for lower-value goods like clothes. Exports of other Indian goods and services, like software and pharmaceuticals, have not been as hard hit because they are not as price-sensitive.

India also places a premium on the higher-value jobs that are fueled by foreign investment. Not far from where that old textile mill once stood, the German engineering company Bosch and the American software concern Perot Systems have opened offices in a new technology park.

The influx of capital has helped fuel a nearly 9 percent annual growth rate for India’s economy. It has also powered the Indian stock market to near record highs. A big beneficiary of the stock rally has been the government, which is selling shares in state-owned firms like Coal India, the world’s largest coal miner.

The government, which has a large budget deficit, plans to raise $9 billion in the current fiscal year from share sales and spend the money on jobs for the rural poor and other welfare programs. A stronger rupee also reduces India’s bill for commodities, like oil, that it needs to import.

“If India is to sustain 8 percent growth or 9 percent growth, the only constraint on that can be capital,” said Nikhil Chaturvedi, managing director of Prozone, the Indian real estate firm that is building the Alliance Mall development. “Free flow of capital should be allowed in all sectors” of the economy, he said.

Riaz Haq said...

About 60% of India's workforce is in agriculture. Textile industry is the second biggest employer, accounting for a fifth of India’s exports, and employs almost 10 percent of India’s workforce, or some 35 million people, and has the potential to add another 12 million new jobs --dwarfing the 1-2 million jobs created by the much-heralded IT and BPO sector, according to a World Bank report.

The largest number of people in other South Asian nations are also employed in the agriculture sector, followed by textile manufacturing as the second largest employer.

About 60% of India's workforce is engaged in agriculture, contributing about 16% of GDP, according to published data. Textile manufacturing claims the second largest employment and comprises 26% of manufacturing output. It accounts for a fifth of India’s exports, and employs almost 10 percent of India’s workforce, or some 35 million people, and has the potential to add another 12 million new jobs --dwarfing the 1-2 million jobs created by the much-heralded IT and BPO sector, according to a World Bank report. Even the most optimistic estimates by NASSCOM put the total direct and indirect employment in IT and ITES sectors at 10 million jobs.

The textile sector is crucial to India's economy. The textile industry contributed 4% of India's gross domestic product in the year that ended March 31, and accounted for 13.5% of Indian exports, bringing in $17.6 billion, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Riaz Haq said...

Here is a quick comparison of different sectors of the economy in India and Pakistan in terms of employment and GDP contribution:

Country....Agri(emp/GDP)..Textiles..Other Mfg..Service(incl IT)

India........60%/16% ...........10%/4%.....7%/25%...........23%/55%

Pakistan......42%/20%...........12%/8%......8%/18%...........38%/54%



Assuming India's PPP GDP of $3.75 trillion (population 1.2 billion) and Pakistan's $450 billion (population 175 million), here is what I calculated in terms of per capita GDP in different sectors of the economy:

India vs. Pakistan:

Agriculture: ($833 vs. $1,225)

Textiles: ($1,242 vs. $1,714)

Non-Textile Mfg ($11,155 vs $5,785)

Services ($7,246 vs $3,654)

It shows that Indians in manufacturing and services sectors add more value and produce higher value goods and services than their Pakistani counterparts.

The income range in India is much wider from $883 to $11, 155 accounting for the much bigger rich-poor gap relative to Pakistan's range from $1225 to $5,785.

Riaz Haq said...

Here is an Indian report about Pakistani hackers attacking India's FBI (called CBI) website:

New Delhi, Dec 6: Exposing India's weakness in information technology, the premier investigative agency, Central Bureau of Investigation has failed to restart its hacked official website even after 48 hours.

The CBI website (http://cbi.nic.in/), which was hacked by Pakistani hackers, remained offline on Monday, Dec 6. The failure indicates the credibility of Indian IT sector, which is considered as one of the leading exporter of 'brainees' to the Western countries.

The official website of CBI was hacked on Friday, Dec 3 night by unknown hackers, who claimed themselves as "Pakistan Cyber Army". The hackers infiltrated to the root level and left a note saying that the attack was a response to the hacking of Pakistan websites by Indian hackers.

The note left by Pakistan hackers read, "This attempt is in response to the Pakistani websites hacked by 'Indian Cyber Army'. We told u before too...we are sleeping but not dead". The note ended with "Pakistan Zindabad."

Later on Saturday, CBI officials released a statement describing that they were working hard to fix he issue and also registered a case under Information Technology Act against 'unknown' hackers.

"A case has been registered in this connection in the cyber crime cell of the CBI and efforts are underway to restore the website with the help of National Informatics Centre and the CBI cyber security experts," the statement said.

Another Indian report raises questions about the vulnerability of outsourced work in India to hacking, and it says: "Once, our national leaders cried for the 'brain drain' happened to India. Even now, US President Barack Obama urging Americans to compete with India 'brainees'. But the hacking of Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI)'s website exposed the 'real' credibility of Indian IT power."

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt from a Wired.com report on how Pakistani techies are helped in the flood-relief effort:

One of the biggest problems in flood relief is locating people displaced by the flood who need food, shelter or medicine. So Sohaib Khan, a computer-science professor at the Lahore University of Management Scientists, put together a widget to help. Floodmaps relies on Google Earth and Google Maps to track the path of the flood and monitor devastation like washed-out bridges that need to be rebuilt. His maps page provides detailed views of over 9000 villages affected by the downpour, broken down by region.

The primary customer for Khan’s maps are non-governmental organizations at work in Pakistan. “Our goal is to get as much data out there as possible,” he says. “We are now working with other NGOs to help them with their mapping needs, both for the current phase as well as planning for the upcoming rehabilitation phase.” But it’s not just independent aid groups that have made use of Floodmaps. The Punjab government’s detailed flood-relief website runs Floodmaps on its mapping page.

Khan’s website makes it easy to get one of his widgets: Just file a request through a provided form and receive a Floodmap. But that’s about as far as his efforts go in terms of social media. The maps themselves track data provided by affiliated aid groups about broken dams, damaged roads and other affected infrastructure. But those groups — or citizens themselves — can’t adjust the maps themselves. “We have not yet really exploited crowdsourcing,” Khan says.


That falls to a group called PakReport, an impromptu collection of Pakistani technologists and their mostly-American academic friends. PakReport is a donor-supported SMS effort that allows people affected by the flood to send in their location and a message about their need. Using a mapping tool called Ushahidi, flood-stricken Pakistanis can find their emergency information tracked by type and location, giving official and independent aid agencies a view into the evolving landscape of people’s needs. Text to 3441 and help create a distributed database of crisis information.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an interesting CGAP report on the use of technology to aid Pakistan's flood victims in 2010:

CGAP’s partner in Pakistan, Tameer Microfinance Bank, and their parent company, Telenor Pakistan, have made it possible for people in Pakistan who may not have internet access to make donations to relief organizations using their EasyPaisa mobile banking platform and have removed the usual transfer fees. EasyPaisa account holders can make donations direct from their mobile wallets and anyone can walk into one of 6,000 agents to contribute to the work of organizations including the Pakistan Red Crescent Society and SOS Children’s villages. They are also in discussion with a number of NGOs about using EasyPaisa to help them to distribute payments to people who have lost their homes or their livelihoods and Telenor themselves have pledged over Rs 213 million (USD 2.5 million) to flood relief efforts.

UBL Bank has won a contract from the Government of Pakistan to make electronic payments of Rs 100,000 (USD 1,170) each to 2 million households – the vast majority of whom will never have set foot in a bank. UBL plan to use their Omni Branchless Banking platform to deliver payments to recipients via Visa debit cards. They will open accounts and distribute cards so that recipients can spend their money at stores or withdraw their cash at ATMs or agents that have been specially set up to deal with the post-flood situation. In post-disaster situations, being able to access cash becomes a life or death issue and from the provider perspective it’s also a major challenge. UBL has 1,800 agents at present and they plan to set up 3,000-4,000 more over the next 3-4 months to cope with the increased demand, according to Abrar Mir, Executive Vice-President of Branchless Banking, who hopes that the people that they reach will continue to use their accounts long after the floods have subsided.

Other organizations are using mobile phones in innovative ways that are not related to branchless banking. Ushahidi, an open source project that allows users to crowdsource crisis information via mobile, have set up pakreport.org a mapping service that allows anyone in the country to text information about the flood. Information is collated and made available to the emergency services and disaster response organizations and NGOs via a web-based interface.

The presence of two branchless banking services in Pakistan (EasyPaisa and UBL Omni) may play an important part in the response to the flood in Pakistan. In Haiti, where no branchless banking solutions exist, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and USAID set up a prize for the first organization to launch a branchless banking solution earlier this year that could be used to make payments to those affected by the earthquake. Although there are some encouraging signs, the prize has yet to be claimed. The response in Pakistan has been much faster due to the presence of existing systems.

Disasters are a fact of life in many countries, and disproportionately affect the poor. Branchless banking will never be able to prevent disasters, but it has the potential to dramatically improve the way in which we can respond to them.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Wall Street Journal story titled "India Graduates Millions, But Too Few Are Fit to Hire":

BANGALORE, India—Call-center company 24/7 Customer Pvt. Ltd. is desperate to find new recruits who can answer questions by phone and email. It wants to hire 3,000 people this year. Yet in this country of 1.2 billion people, that is beginning to look like an impossible goal.

So few of the high school and college graduates who come through the door can communicate effectively in English, and so many lack a grasp of educational basics such as reading comprehension, that the company can hire just three out of every 100 applicants.

India projects an image of a nation churning out hundreds of thousands of students every year who are well educated, a looming threat to the better-paid middle-class workers of the West. Their abilities in math have been cited by President Barack Obama as a reason why the U.S. is facing competitive challenges.

Yet 24/7 Customer's experience tells a very different story. Its increasing difficulty finding competent employees in India has forced the company to expand its search to the Philippines and Nicaragua. Most of its 8,000 employees are now based outside of India.

In the nation that made offshoring a household word, 24/7 finds itself so short of talent that it is having to offshore.

"With India's population size, it should be so much easier to find employees," says S. Nagarajan, founder of the company. "Instead, we're scouring every nook and cranny."

India's economic expansion was supposed to create opportunities for millions to rise out of poverty, get an education and land good jobs. But as India liberalized its economy starting in 1991 after decades of socialism, it failed to reform its heavily regulated education system.

Business executives say schools are hampered by overbearing bureaucracy and a focus on rote learning rather than critical thinking and comprehension. Government keeps tuition low, which makes schools accessible to more students, but also keeps teacher salaries and budgets low. What's more, say educators and business leaders, the curriculum in most places is outdated and disconnected from the real world.

"If you pay peanuts, you get monkeys," says Vijay Thadani, chief executive of New Delhi-based NIIT Ltd. India, a recruitment firm that also runs job-training programs for college graduates lacking the skills to land good jobs.

Muddying the picture is that on the surface, India appears to have met the demand for more educated workers with a quantum leap in graduates. Engineering colleges in India now have seats for 1.5 million students, nearly four times the 390,000 available in 2000, according to the National Association of Software and Services Companies, a trade group.

But 75% of technical graduates and more than 85% of general graduates are unemployable by India's high-growth global industries, including information technology and call centers, according to results from assessment tests administered by the group.

Another survey, conducted annually by Pratham, a nongovernmental organization that aims to improve education for the poor, looked at grade-school performance at 13,000 schools across India. It found that about half of the country's fifth graders can't read at a second-grade level.

Riaz Haq said...

The Times Higher Education Supplement for 2011 ranks 6 Pakistani universities among the top 100 Asia for Life sciences and Bio medicine.

NUST ranks 60, UET-Lahore 65, Karachi University 68, University of Lahore 73, Punjab University 91 and Quaid-e-Azam University Islamabad at 94.

On THES IT and Engg rankings, there are 4 Pakistani universities: NUST is 47, Univ of Karachi 91, University of Lahore 89, UET Lahore 90.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an Express Tribune report about Pakistan's IT export potential:

KARACHI: Pakistan could play host to an extreme growth spurt in the information technology industry in the next 10 years, according to a study quoted by IBM’s Country General Manager Hamayun Bashir.

Speaking at a ceremony held to celebrate a century of IBM’s existence on Thursday, Bashir informed Pakistan may have up to one million jobs in the information technology industry by 2020.

“IBA students are working on a study with assistance from the Overseas Investors Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s IT committee. The report, to be published in a few months, underlines that by 2020, Pakistan can easily have a million jobs and exports of $10 billion in the IT industry,” he asserted.

He expressed hope that the current figure of 0.15 million jobs in the industry could easily be increased. “I see a bright future for our industry, which is producing top-quality software,” said Bashir.

“We are meeting the IT ministry on behalf of Pasha – the chamber for IT in the country – to get officials to refocus on the sector,” said Bashir.

Commenting on the resignation of former IT minister Babar Awan, he said, “The minister was an important, focal point of the industry.”

“I have heard that the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is providing funds and a data centre will be created in Islamabad,” he said while talking about the e-government programme.

Replying to a complaint that large organisations in the country, such as banks, did not give projects to local firms, he said that there were up to 60 large companies in Pakistan which needed tried and tested software.

He, however, explained that there were at least 10,000 small companies that would not be able to afford services of large international firms and would have to adopt local software solutions, which would help the economy grow.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a report in The Nation on PTCL data centers in Pakistan:

ISLAMABAD - PTCL, understanding the rapidly changing business environment and its growing reliance upon automation, has introduced region’s largest Data Centres in Karachi and Lahore. These centers are certified by the internationally recognized certification body, EPI.
This certification by an international body is the first data centre certification in Pakistan’s history and proves PTCL’s commitment to providing state of the art products and services backed by engineering and support for the Government and Enterprise markets of Pakistan, says a press release issued here on Wednesday.
PTCL Data Center services is an ideal choice for companies who want the flexibility to house their Primary, Disaster Recovery and/or Business Continuity sites and choose from a variety of cost reducing services as their business demands.
PTCL Data Centre solution provides customers managed and hosted cloud based services that comprise of computing as a service, processing as a service, storage as a service, software as a service, application hosting, infrastructure hosting, caging, co-location, disaster recovery as a service, backup solutions, hosted business solutions, unified communications and telepresence switching.
President PTCL Walid Irshaid said “PTCL is heavily investing in these ICT assets on behalf of our customers so that they can focus on their core competencies. Getting our Data Centers certified is further evidence that PTCL is committed to provide technology to the Govt and Enterprise markets of Pakistan of international standards.
This certification by an internationally recognized organization ensures that PTCL Data centers provide a reliable, responsive and resilient infrastructure, is designed and built using international standards and provides a secure, managed, climatically controlled environment for the housing and hosting of sensitive, mission-critical data and applications.

Riaz Haq said...

All the hype about Indian IT sector makes it hard to believe that it is Pakistan, not India, which has widely deployed biometric identification technology to issue multi-purpose national ID cards and e-passports to its citizens.

In fact, Pakistan is among the first few countries of the world to issue biometric national ID cards to 83 million citizens. Pakistan has also issued over 7 million e-passports to its citizens since October, 2004. These Multi-Biometric Electronic Passports, containing an RFID chip, facial and fingerprint images of the passport holder, PKI and other security features are compliant with ICAO standards.

NADRA's corporate clients are Mobilink, Ufone, Telenor, Barclays Bank, Royal Bank of Scotland, Standard Charter Bank, PTCL, IESCO, SNGPL and SSGPL.

International clients of NADRA include governments of Bangladesh, Kenya, Nigeria and Sudan. NADRA Technologies has recently entered into a agreement with Global Defense, a Turkish company, to pursue biometric IT services opportunities in Turkey and other European and Middle Eastern nations.

PTCL, another state-owned company, is rolling out fast broadband access at low cost, and building data centers in Pakistan to enable cloud computing on a large scale. PTCL has recently started rolling out 50 Mbits/sec broadband service in several cities and towns, and built large data centers in Karachi and Lahore.

http://www.riazhaq.com/2011/05/pakistan-leads-asia-in-biometric-it.html

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistani IT companies win recognition in Malaysia, according to The Express Tribune:

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani information technology (IT) companies won seven awards at the 10th International Asia Pacific ICT Awards (APICTA) held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The Pakistani companies secured the highest number of total awards.

The Silver Awards were secured in the Security Applications, E-Inclusion and E-Community, Financial Applications, Communications, E-Government and E-Health categories.

Pakistani companies won in the face of stiff competition from companies from 16 countries including Malaysia, China, Hong Kong, Singapore and Australia. The Center for Advanced Research in Engineering (CARE) won the Silver Award in E-Government, Security and Communications while Avanza won the Silver Award in the highly competitive Financial Category and Cure MD won the Silver Award in the E-Health category. Aerocar and Solotech showed won the Silver Award in the E-nclusion & E-Community category.

Secretary Information Technology Nagib Ullah Malik invited the winners to discuss ways and means to bolster the IT industry in Pakistan and increase the adoption of locally developed IT products. He also praised the winning companies for earning a good name for the country while acknowledging the depth and creativity of the companies.

The chairman of Pakistan Association of Software Houses (PASHA) Ashraf Kapadia, Member IT Tariq Badshah and Managing Director Pakistan Software Export Board (PSEB) Zia Imran were also present at the occasion.

Malik also said that the wins at APICTA are a solid evidence of the support that the Ministry of Information Technology (MoIT) has provided to spur innovation in Pakistan. He recommended the PSEB to look into additional IT industry support programs including greater adoption of locally developed products in government and private sectors.

Malik added that minimal regulation and maximum incentives are needed to compete with countries such as Vietnam and Brazil.

Lucky Farnon said...

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software house in pakistan

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan is ranked in 4th place on CII-Insead's Global innovation efficiency sub-index, 5 places ahead of India in 9th place, according to Economic Times of India:

India has improved its ranking in the global Innovation Efficiency Index to 9th position in 2011 from 101th last year on factors like political stability, R&D, market and business sophistication, according to a study.

Surprisingly, Pakistan was placed ahead of India at 4th position, the CII-INSEAD study said.

However, India has slipped on its ranking in the Global Innovation Index to 62nd position out of 125 countries in 2011 from 56th last year while Switzerland was at the top,

It said that a lot of Indian talent is returning home to the country and the youth in urban India are now more global than ever, "and they are quite in tune with new technologies, even ahead of the curve in many cases, as early adapters".

"Multinational corporations are making large investments in R&D outside of their headquarter countries, setting up R&D sites in low-cost emerging countries such as China and India to access global talent and take advantage of their proximity to target markets," the report said.

Indian major players such as Tata, Godrej, and Mahindras are shifting their focus towards the rapidly expanding middle-income group of customers by coming up with frugal innovations, keeping in mind the price sensitivity of Indian consumers, it said.


http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/economy/indicators/india-moves-up-to-no9-on-global-innovation-efficiency-index/articleshow/9085252.cms

http://www.globalinnovationindex.org/gii/GII%20COMPLETE_PRINTWEB.pdf

Riaz Haq said...

While Pakistan fares badly, ranking 103 on a list of 125 nations, on CII-INSEAD Global Index of Innovation for 2011, it is included among the top 10 countries for the Innovation Efficiency sub-Index. These countries are Côte d’Ivoire, Nigeria, China, Pakistan, Moldova, Sweden, Brazil, Argentina, India, and Bangladesh.



This places Pakistan in 4th place on CII-Insead's Global innovation efficiency sub-index, 5 places ahead of India in 9th place, according to Economic Times of India:



India has improved its ranking in the global Innovation Efficiency Index to 9th position in 2011 from 101th last year on factors like political stability, R&D, market and business sophistication, according to a study.



Surprisingly, Pakistan was placed ahead of India at 4th position, the CII-INSEAD study said.



However, India has slipped on its ranking in the Global Innovation Index to 62nd position out of 125 countries in 2011 from 56th last year while Switzerland was at the top,



It said that a lot of Indian talent is returning home to the country and the youth in urban India are now more global than ever, "and they are quite in tune with new technologies, even ahead of the curve in many cases, as early adapters".



"Multinational corporations are making large investments in R&D outside of their headquarter countries, setting up R&D sites in low-cost emerging countries such as China and India to access global talent and take advantage of their proximity to target markets," the report said.



Indian major players such as Tata, Godrej, and Mahindras are shifting their focus towards the rapidly expanding middle-income group of customers by coming up with frugal innovations, keeping in mind the price sensitivity of Indian consumers, it said.




http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/economy/indicators/india-moves-up-to-no9-on-global-innovation-efficiency-index/articleshow/9085252.cms



http://www.globalinnovationindex.org/gii/GII%20COMPLETE_PRINTWEB.pdf



http://www.riazhaq.com/2009/12/intellectual-wealth-of-nations.html



http://www.riazhaq.com/2009/10/pakistans-28-billion-it-industry.html

Riaz Haq said...

The Lahore-based Pepper.pk and Five Rivers Technologies made it to the number one spot across all categories on BlackBerry’s AppWorld on August 3 with their game Ninja Fruit Bash, developed for BlackBerry smartphones, according to a report in Express Tribune:

This was the third BlackBerry app developed by the local company to make it to number one on BlackBerry AppWorld.

Their other apps to reach number one include Photo Editor, an app that allows users to edit photographs from their hand-held devices, and LED Notifier, an app that blinks different colored LED for different contacts.

Mahe Zehra Husain, the Head of Operations and Product Management said “We are thrilled at this achievement. We already have two world number one utilities on BlackBerry AppWorld and adding a game to our family shows that not only can good code be developed for software utilities in Pakistan we can actually make amazing games as well!”

Ninja Fruit Bash Storyline

Ninja Fruit Bash follows the quest of a Ninja as he travels across China slicing tainted and poisoned fruit in order to save humanity.

The fruit is poisoned by the evil spirit of Orochi and is fatal if eaten. Orochi has turned fertile fruit gardens all over China into poisonous wasteland and our Ninja is on a mission – to return all the fruit gardens to their former glory.

http://tribune.com.pk/story/224923/pakistan-it-firm-tops-world-ranking-with-blackberry-game/

Here's more from Blackberrycool.com:

There’s a growing trend of taking iOS successes and porting them over to BlackBerry. We believe the trend was started by Smarter-Apps and from a strictly business perspective it makes a lot of sense. Sure, you could spend a long time working on a risky app that may or may not be a success, or you could take something that obviously makes money on another platform and bring it to the 40 million or so BlackBerry users. Considering the huge success of this strategy, as proved by Angry Farm, it makes you realize that a lot of these iOS developers are listening to the analysts more than the users.

Ninja Fruit Bash is the latest in this strategy and they’ve taken the success of Fruit Ninja to BlackBerry users. The app isn’t 100% of the fun you get on the iOS version and there are some limitations on the BlackBerry side such as the fact that not all devices have OpenGL support for 3D graphics. Ninja Fruit Bash on the Torch was a pretty smooth experience and it’s definitely a good start. The company will have to work a little harder to bring more of the user experience and graphics to the game but as a start it’s awesome.

http://www.blackberrycool.com/2011/07/21/ninja-fruit-bash-is-the-latest-ios-success-to-blackberry-clone/

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan has exported $750 million software solutions last year, according to Pakistan Software Exports Board. This is a huge increase over $169 million reported in 2007-2008.

It should be noted that Pakistan uses BPM5 balance of payments method for reporting software and IT exports, and BPM5 significantly understates the value relative to BPM6 (MSITS) method used by RBI India.

BPM 6 (MSITS) includes sales to multinationals operating within the country, earning of overseas offices & salaries of non-immigrant overseas workers to export revenue.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Dawn story on rapid broadband growth in Pakistan:

WASHINGTON: Pakistan is ranked as one of top countries that registered high growth rates in broadband Internet penetration among their populace, the latest worldwide data report for Q1 2010 to Q1 2011 says.

Serbia leads all countries surveyed with a 68% annual growth rate from Q1 2010 to Q1 2011, according to July 2011 Bandwidth Report with data on worldwide bandwidth penetration.

The figures were cited by Website Optimization, LLC, a leading website optimizing firm, sourced from Point Topic, a global broadband tracker, and reported by PRWeb.

Pakistan, which has seen a boom in its promising telecom sector and information technology services in recent years, recorded around 46.2 percent growth of subscribers and is placed fourth on the ranking list.

The closest South Asian country to Pakistan on the list of top countries is Sri Lanka at the 11th spot with its broadband penetration growing in 30s while India lags at the 14th place in terms of broadband growth.

Globally, only Thailand and Belarus had greater percentage expansion than Pakistan, apart from top-rated Serbia during the period.

Pakistan’s digital growth prospects have begun to look brighter lately.

Besides having a large bilingual (English and Urdu) Internet conversant population, Pakistan’s software companies have carved a niche internationally in recent years.

According to government figures, the country’s information technology exports totaled $1.4 billion in the last financial year.

Experts say the IT industry, which adds thousands of skilled workers every year, has the potential to hit multimillion export target within next five to ten years. Additionally, mobile phone and wireless Internet usage are also expanding rapidly.

The survey data shows that China continues to lead the world in total broadband subscribers. As of the first quarter of 2011, China had over 135 million broadband subscribers, with the US at over 88 million subscribers in second place. Japan, German, and France followed China and the US in total subscribers.


http://www.dawn.com/2011/08/30/pakistan-among-top-countries-registering-high-broadband-growth.html

http://www.websiteoptimization.com/bw/1107/

http://www.nation.com.pk/pakistan-news-newspaper-daily-english-online/Business/31-May-2011/Pakistan-earning-US-14-bln-through-IT-exports-PM

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a UKPA story of a Pakistani innovators harnessing the Internet for the poor:

One of the world's top young technology innovators is working to bring internet-style networking to millions of Pakistanis who don't have access to the web.

Umar Saif's efforts, which centre around giving ordinary citizens new ways to use a basic mobile phone, recently earned him recognition by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The trigger for his research was a 2005 earthquake in Pakistani-controlled Kashmir that killed 80,000 people and caused widespread destruction. The disaster coincided with his return to Pakistan after getting a PhD in computer science from the University of Cambridge.

Realising that rescue workers were having trouble co-ordinating, Saif, 32, devised a computer program that allowed people to send a text message - or SMS - to thousands of people at once. Users send a text to a specific phone number to sign up for the program, and then can message all the subscribers, allowing users to engage in the kind of social networking possible on the internet.

It has since blossomed into a commercial enterprise called SMS-all that is used by at least 2.5 million people who have sent nearly four billion text messages.

"You can do the sorts of things that we do on Facebook and Twitter," said Saif, now an associate professor at the Lahore University of Management Sciences.

The company generates revenue by charging a small amount for each message. Saif has expanded the service to Iraq and Nigeria by working with telecommunication companies there.

Roughly 20 million Pakistanis use the internet, about 11% of the country's total population of 187 million. But there are more than 108 million Pakistani mobile phone subscribers.

"The thing to do is to bring whatever you have on the internet on the phone lines, because that is what gets used the most," said Saif.


http://www.google.com/hostednews/ukpress/article/ALeqM5gGB71MuxyPPnNQBdZ4xMfvksHuxA?docId=N0201411315222132958A

Riaz Haq said...

Here's some info on Pakistan's C4I efforts at Air Weapons Complex (AWC) according to a post on defence.pk

The Air Defense Automation System has been indigenously developed by Air Weapons Complex (AWC). The designed system collects information from all Air Defense sensors and radars, processes it, converts it into a standard format and displays it in real time at any desired location. The system architecture is independent of space, time and communication medium. The Command and Control System provides an environment for multiple functions to operate on the same hardware platform and share data via a Local Area Network (LAN) or a Wide Area Network (WAN).

The System allows the Commander to a view a fused picture of his complete Area Of Responsibility (AOR). It is a compilation of data from all Air Defense sensors, combined with battle plan, projection overlays, and any other data that is available, including:
current locations and planned movement operations of ground, maritime and air units of friendly, neutral, and enemy forces
generated features and projections (e.g. battle plans, operating zones)

Our engineers work closely with the customers to provide them customized, open, flexible and cost-effective solutions to their Air Defense Automation System requirements. AWC provides comprehensive Integrated Logistic Support (ILS) throughout the life cycle of the System.

SALIENT FEATURES
Seamless integration with C4I systems.
Network centric design allowing self-forming and self-healing network (user can enter or leave the network dynamically).
Complete Air Situation Display (ASD).
User friendly and compact Graphical User Interface.
The System can be operated in different modes (Operator, Commander etc.)
Personnel training under simulation mode.
Scenario recording and replay facility.
Communication with lower and higher command centers.
Advanced GIS support.
Multiple layer architecture (Display of multiple maps).
Map features e.g. map loading, map editing, map color changing etc.
Preset and programmable zoom buttons.
Display of Latitude/Longitude, Georef and Grid System.
True battlefield scenario support.
Display of track history during interception operation. User can switch on/off history of track.
Track symbol indicating its category.
Track type indicates the threat status of the track.
Tactical interception aids available.
Radar on/off option.
Aircraft Plot Suppression Area (PSA).
Non-automatic track initiation area.
Weapons (SAM/AAA) status monitoring.
Use of commercial technologies.
Ergonomically designed Command and Control Console.
Easy maintenance.
MULTIPLE RADAR TRACKER

AWC's Multi Radar Tracker (MRT) uses state-of-the-art tracking algorithms to detect and track all modern, fast and highly maneuverable targets, hence forming an integral part of C4I and Air Defense Automation System. It works effectively in high clutter environments and displays real time information for any command & control function. It can handle 2000 plots and 1000 tracks. This capability can be further enhanced due to scalable design of the Tracker. It can be integrated simultaneously with homogenous and heterogeneous radars.

The Tracker automatically initiates and reliably tracks maneuvering targets. The tracks initiation and maneuvering detection is enhanced with multiple sensors. The trackers update the display information at a high rate to form a true, accurate and complete Air Situation Display (ASD) for all air-defense and air-traffic control operations....

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a report on business deals signed during Karachi Trade Expo in Pakistan:

Various agreements and Memorandum of Understandings (MoUs) have been signed between Pakistani companies and foreign firms on the second day of 6th Expo Pakistan, which are aimed to create new trade opportunities for Pakistani industries.
Chromium and other industries from Information Technology sector signed over $300 million worth of trade deals with different international organisations during the 2nd day of this international event.
For the first time a Hong Kong based company Ormita Commerce Network, which operates as an international barter exchange platform and currently facilitating approximately $2.66 billion transaction per annum, has struck a strategic investment deal with Pakistani firm Alpha Dairies to launch Operation in Pakistan.
Under the agreement signed, the foreign firm plans to conduct more than $120 million of bilateral trade within 12 months of the finalisation of the deal, said Daniel Evans Chief Executive Officer of Ormita.
Talking to Profit, he said that for the first time the ‘barter business’ is being launched in Pakistan under which his company would play a third party role for imports, as government itself can acquire high-tech machineries and commodities from Ormita network participants across the globe and it can pay the dues by using its own under utilised resources or raw materials.
According to Daniel, all kinds of machineries, equipments and other goods could be imported through the barter business with the exchange of raw materials or other available products in Pakistan. Since Pakistan is currently facing several risks, including financial deficit, energy crisis and political instability, for any investment in Pakistan, the barter system is the only solution for any foreign investment in Pakistan. Currently barter system accounts for nearly 30 per cent of the world’s total business, and this is the best solution for a country to build trade relations with other countries in the absence of interest from foreign investments.
“Ormita is currently representing non-cash trading for more than 0.21 million traders across 54 different countries, and it is operating this huge amount of trade through 21 offices in different counties. Pakistan, rather than a cash payment, can exchange it’s under utilised resources or raw materials as a payment for the services or high-tech machineries imported from Ormita” he added.
The Trade Development Authority of Pakistan CEO met with CCPIT China Vice Chairman Huang Shan, Malaysia State Minister Haji Abdul Malik, and other importers. He said that fruitful discussions were made with the dignitaries from China, Japan, UK, USA, France, Brazil, Greece, Argentina, Madagascar, Belgium, South Africa, South Korea, Poland, Malaysia, Nigeria, New Zeeland, India, Panama and Colombia.
The foreign buyers, who met the concerned Pakistani companies’ representatives during the exhibitions have informed him that majority of them had good deals with the country’s exporters and also have placed orders worth millions of dollars.
Earlier, Tariq Rafi, Chief Executive of Siddiquesons Limited, claimed that his company has received import orders worth millions of dollars from buyers from Argentina, Brazil, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Japan and USA as they were interested in denim imports. Almost half of the visiting countries were new customers for this sector.
He said the exporters of denim and other textile items were satisfied with the developments and trade deals made during the 6th Expo as they had received a good response from the foreigners.


http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2011/10/pakistani-it-companies-sign-300m-worth-trade-deals/?thick=off&KeepThis=true&TB_iframe=true&height=540&width=962

Riaz Haq said...

NADRA has issued over half a million cards for Rs. 20,000 cash to each flood affected family in Sindh so far, according to The News:

The National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) has said 47 centres of its total 62 centres are operational in six districts, while the other centres have completed their task and are entertaining complaints from genuine applicants who

were unable to get themselves registered for the Pakistan Card.

Nadra Deputy Chairman Tariq Malik pointed out on Friday that Nadra’s centres were working in Badin, Tando Mohammad Khan, Shaheed Benazirabad Mirpurkhas, Tando Allahyar and Sanghar, while 15 other centres were addressing complaints from those people who did not get themselves registered for Pakistan Cards.

He stated that throughout the process, Nadra ensured strong checks so that only deserving families belonging to the provincially notified calamity-hit areas could obtain the Pakistan Card.

Malik informed that Nadra had so far issued 592,651 Pakistan Cards to heads of rain-affected families in Sindh, 105,455 in Mirpurkhas, 240,227 in Badin, 79,946 in Tando Mohammad Khan and 156,324 in Shaheed Benazirabad (Nawabshah), 8,011 in Tando Allahyar and 2,684 in Sanghar.

He said that Nadra had launched a mobile SMS service in collaboration with the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) and all operating telecom companies to determine a person’s existence in the beneficiary list for the Pakistan Card project to facilitate the rain-affected people in checking the status of their requests.

The eligibility of the applicant for the Pakistan Card can be checked by simply sending his/her CNIC number to the designated short code (i.e. 9777). In response, a text message will be sent from Nadra’s central server confirming CNIC existence in the beneficiary list. The intent to use this service is to assist the provincial and local governments in curtailing the rush at the centres and helping the flood victims by using the technology while this service was for free, he added.

Nadra, in addition to setting up centres, has also mobilised its mobile resources MRVs (Mobile Registration Vans) to process the CNIC for free in all the affected areas in coordination with the public representatives and district administrators, he added. He said that Nadra had also issued 77,833 CNICs for free to flood/rain-hit victims so far.


http://www.thenews.com.pk/TodaysPrintDetail.aspx?ID=77118&Cat=4

Riaz Haq said...

NADRA offers SMS verification service to check flood affectees, according to APP:

Islamabad—National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) has initiated a mobile SMS service determine and check existence of flood-affected persons in the beneficiary list for Pakistan Card.

This service has been launched in collaboration with Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) and all mobile phone operators with the objective to assist provincial and local governments to curtail down rush at the centers and help the flood victims by using technology.

A senior official at NADRA on Monday told APP that the eligibility of the applicant for Pakistan Card can be checked by simply sending his/her Computerized National Identity Card (CNIC) number to the designated short code i.e. 9777.

In response, a text message will be sent from NADRA central server confirming CNIC existence in the beneficiary list, the official said and added the Authority ensures strong checks in the software so that only deserving families belonging to provincially notified calamity hit areas could obtain Pakistan Cards. He said the process of issuing Pakistan Cards is in progress as around 598,600 such Cards have been issued to flood affected families in Sindh.

Giving further details, he said around 105,455 Pakistan Cards in Mirpurkhas, 240,227 in Badin, 79,946 in Tando Muhammad Khan and 156,324 in Shaheed Benazirabad (Nawabshah), 8011 in Tando Allahyar and 2684 in Sanghar have been issued.

http://pakobserver.net/detailnews.asp?id=125035

Riaz Haq said...

The State Bank said on Wednesday that the value of e-banking transactions aggregated to Rs12 trillion during the second half of 2010-11, showing an increase of 19 per cent as compared to the first half of the year, according to a Dawn report:

The Payment Systems Half Yearly Review released by the State Bank here noted speedy rise in e-banking transactions in the country.

The volume of such transactions during the period under review reached 125.9 million depicting an increase of 15.5 per cent as compared to the first half of FY11, the review said, adding that the payment system infrastructure has maintained an overall growth trend for the second half of FY11.

However, the review also said that the volume and value of paper-based retail payments during the second half of FY11 were recorded as 177.3 million and Rs84.6 trillion respectively, indicating an increase of 3.5 per cent in the volume of transactions.

“The value of transactions has increased by 13.3 per cent as compared to the first half of FY11. The contribution of paper-based payments in total retail payment transactions was 58.5 per cent in terms of volume and 87.5 per cent in terms of value,” it added.

The review said the Automated Teller Machines (ATMs), which are the largest channel of e-banking transactions, showed 16.5 per cent increase in number of transactions and 19 per cent increase in value raising the share of ATM transactions in total e-banking transactions to 58.8 per cent and 5.4 per cent respectively, the review said.

It said the number of Real-Time Online Branches (RTOB) transactions grew by 14.7 per cent and the value of transactions increased by 18.8 per cent as compared to first half of FY11. “These transactions contributed 31.6 per cent in total volume of e-banking and 93.2 per cent in the value of such transactions respectively,” the review observed.

According to the review, as many as 466 more Automated Teller Machines were added bringing the total number of ATMs to 5,200 while 380 more bank branches were converted into Real Time Online Branches (RTOBs).

“A total of 7,416 bank branches (78 per cent) are now offering real time online banking out of a total of 9,541 branches in the country. The number of plastic cards at 14 million also registered an increase of 6.2 per cent during the period under review as compared to the numbers during the preceding half year,” the Review added.

The overall increasing trend in payment system infrastructure was also witnessed in the large value payments settled through Pakistan Real-time Inter-bank Settlement Mechanism (PRISM), which increased by 14.8 per cent in volume and 21.9 per cent in terms of value as compared to the first half of FY11.

http://www.dawn.com/2011/12/29/electronic-payments-reach-rs12tr.html

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an overview Pakistan IT industry in 2011, as published in Express Tribune:

The year 2011 saw a number of positive developments in Pakistan’s Information and Technology (IT) industry, from app development to global recognition and a series of awards.

HIGHLIGHTS

Pakistan Fast Growth 25

In a first for the IT industry, the Pakistan Fast Growth 25, a ranking of fast growth companies, listed 10 IT companies on its index. The Pakistan Fast Growth 25 is a program of the AllWorld Network in partnership with Harvard Business School Professor Michael Porter, launched in collaboration with JS Bank Limited.

Official Game for ICC 2011 Cricket World Cup

Local development company, Mindstorm Studios developed the official game for the ICC 2011 Cricket World Cup.The browser-based 3D game, “Cricket Power” features all 14 official teams along with players, stadiums and kits.

Pak-India ICT Firms to enhance trade up to $5b

Pakistani and Indian IT committees held bilateral talks separately on both sides of borders in March – aimed at enhancing trade ties in the field of IT. In the talks, both countries agreed to boost mutual trade in the IT sector by $5 billion through joint-ventures, investment and exchange of expertise.

Netsol deal in India

Local ICT company Netsol engaged with Indian companies to provide applications for financial services. It signed an agreement to sell its product “Netsol Financial Suite” to a global auto leasing company operating in India.

Google grants to social innovators

In another first for Pakistan, Google has granted seed money to a local association for social causes.

Google granted $250,000 to Pakistan Software Houses Association that launched Pasha Fund for distributing the amount to talented innovators. So far four individuals were selected to receive funds.

Pepper.pk mobile apps triumph

Local app developers, Pepper.pk hit the number one spot in Blackberry App World. Their application, LED Notifier Pro, has been immensely popular since its launch and ranked among the best selling Blackberry applications in the world. Additionally, their app, Photo Editor for BlackBerry has occupied the number one rank on App World twice in the past three months.

TenPearls wins Nokia contest twice

Pakistani IT firm TenPearls marked another record, beating out 800 entrants to bag second position and received a $50,000 cash prize at ‘Nokia & AT&T Innovators 2011 Contest’.

This is the second award TenPearls has received for its mobile app named “Animal 101” within a year. Their first award was first prize for their app uTrack mobile earlier in 2011 for the same platform in Pakistan.

Pakistan Shines at APICTA

Pakistan was declared the winner of two gold and five silver awards at the 11th annual Asia Pacific ICT Awards (APICTA) 2011 in Pattaya, Thailand. Pakistani firms secured two gold awards in the e-health and e-logistics and SCM categories and five silvers in the communication, financial, security, e-inclusion and e-community and e-government categories.

Pakistan’s team comprised of 18 products which competed against 162 different products from the Asia Pacific region.


http://tribune.com.pk/story/317436/2011-pakistan-it-industrys-golden-year/

Riaz Haq said...

Here are excerpts of a BBC report on Arfa's death:

Arfa's short life mirrors Pakistan's burgeoning engagement with information technology, an industry which holds out hope for youth embittered by unemployment and a lack of opportunities.

Her father, Col Amjad Karim, says she was particularly concerned to use her skills to help the young, those under-served by IT and those from villages.

"It is generally understood that computers are for very hi-fi people or rich schools but nowadays one can be purchased for a few thousand rupees by the poorest of poorest," he told the BBC.

"Arfa's centre of gravity was wanting to improve human resource development by focusing on education."

Col Karim retired from the army to be his daughter's manager. He says her mother and two younger brothers are in shock after her death.

Arfa had been in intensive care in a Lahore hospital since late December.

Senior politicians joined relatives at her funeral in the city on Sunday - she has already had a technology park named after her in Lahore.

Her loss is also being felt by Pakistan's IT world.

Shoaib Malik, country manager for games company Mindstorm, said: "It's really sad. What was amazing about her was that she had a clear vision, she literally wanted to set up the industry.

"One thinks only kids who have studied from abroad would have a vision but it was remarkable. I think whatever God does, does for the better but had she been alive she could have played an important role in the IT industry."

Mindstorm is one of a number of small Pakistani start-ups tapping into the global IT boom - a side to the country often overlooked amid bombings, natural disasters and never-ending political crisis.

The company, set up by self-taught techies, developed a game which ended being selected as the ICC World Cup 2011 official game, Cricket Power.
Internet effect

According to Pakistan Software Houses Association president Jehan Ara, Arfa was "intelligent beyond her years".

"In addition to achieving a professional certification at the tender age of nine, it is also notable that she set up and ran a computer training institute for a poor community.

"Her passion for technology, coupled with her vision to use her talent to do something significant for Pakistan and its people, was truly amazing for someone so young."

Ms Ara feels the IT industry offers a way out of unemployment for young Pakistanis, many of whom she says are starting their own companies. One Karachi firm is even developing software for the stock exchange in the UK.
----------
Around 1996 - the year when Arfa was born - the IT industry really took off in Pakistan, according to Shakir Hussain, CEO of software company Creative Chaos.

As the millennium approached, the fear of a mass technical apocalypse also motivated people to pay more attention to IT ventures.

"Suddenly there were hiring and migration opportunities for software engineers," he recalls.

But techies in Pakistan had been putting their creative minds to work even earlier than that, with far-reaching and destructive results.

In 1986, two brothers from Lahore created the world's first computer virus, "Brain".

They insist the virus was friendly and not intended to damage information, but it still ricocheted through the tech world and was developed by others, spawning viruses used to exploit operating systems.

That, however, is not what Pakistan's IT industry wants to be known for.

Shakir Hussain thinks it offers bright young people a good chance to earn a few thousand dollars working from home through various websites.

"The internet has been a great leveller," he says.


http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-16599781

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an Express Tribune story about Pakistan's first tablet computer offered by Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC):

The newest entrant in the market for tablets and eBook readers – dominated by the likes of Apple, Amazon and Samsung – is none other than the Pakistani military.

The Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) Kamra, whose self-described mission is “to produce and support weapon systems for a high state of operational readiness of the Pakistan Air Force (PAF)”, has started up a new commercial venture with a Chinese company, which an official told The Express Tribune was to “strengthen the national economy”.

The first three products produced by PAC are a computing tablet, a notebook and an eBook reader.

A press release issued at the launch of the project on December 29 notes that “for the joint production of JF-17, PAF had established sufficient facilities which are appropriate for the production of both defence and commercial products.”

The PAC official, who asked not to be named, told The Express Tribune that the joint venture with the Chinese company Innavtek had taken off with the initial offering of three products. “We plan to expand this in the future.”

The venture website, cpmc.pk, states that “Innavtek jointly developed two products with Avionics Production Factory which are successfully flying on fleet of our JF-17 aircraft and three more products are under co development phase.”

The official said that while PAC would manufacture the products, marketing was Innavtek’s responsibility.

He said the products were initially being marketed in Rawalpindi, but modalities needed to be finalised so it could expand to other cities including Lahore and Karachi. “We will get in touch with courier companies to see if we can reach a deal to transport them,” he said.

The competitively priced products, he said, have several benefits because they are being manufactured in Kamra. “It comes with a joint one-year warranty of PAC and Innavtek. Because PAC is producing it, it will ensure quality. We will also provide backup support,” the official said. In the first stage of this venture, PAC will manufacture the products locally but there are plans for an exchange of personnel to be trained in China and Pakistan respectively.

PAC’s plan to “strengthen the national economy” via its new commercial venture means it has to capitalise on “current trends”.

Jehan Ara, the president of the Pakistan Software Houses Association (PASHA), said she was unaware of the venture. She was skeptical that customers would buy PAC’s products just because they were manufactured by the Pakistani military. “People with a fixed budget will test products, read reviews and get recommendations from friends and then buy something. They don’t buy just because of a name. They will test it out of curiosity and put up reviews etc.” She also said governments around the world and in Pakistan buy computers from vendors based on pricing and reliability, and should not be forced to buy from a specific vendor.


http://tribune.com.pk/story/331525/from-kamra-to-karachi-via-the-chinese-military-debuts-in-the-handheld-market/

http://www.cpmc.pk/

Riaz Haq said...

The prices for Pakistan's PAC (Pakistan Aeronautical Complex) computers range from Rs. 8,000 for PAC eBook reader tablet, to Rs. 15,000 for PAC PAD 1 tablet and Rs. 23,500 for PAC nBook.

Check out PakAccounts.com for specs more details.

http://pakaccountants.com/pakistan-introduced-ebook-reader-notebook-tablet-pc/

Here's a link to a video about Pakistan Aeronautical Complex products.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6oMbzyTun7Q&feature=related

Riaz Haq said...

Here's ProPakistani.com story on Punjab govt giving away laptops to students:

Shahbaz Sharif, Chief Minister Punjab, today launched the free laptop scheme in Punjab, under which 110,000 free laptops will be given away to bright students in the province.

During a launch ceremony at Punjab University Lahore, Mr. Sharif announced that giveaway of 110,000 laptops will be start from February 2nd, 2012 in Rahim Yar Khan and will run district wise to complete the delivery in whole province by end of March.

He mentioned that Punjab Government spent Rs. 4 billion for 110,000 free laptops, while another 300,000 laptops are likely to be approved for free giveaway next year.

Chief Minister also unveiled his plans for providing free internet connection at home for students, however, he said that procedures are being worked out to achieve the project.

He announced that whole of Punjab University and its campuses will be equipped with WiFi for free and portable internet access. It is likely that other government universities will be converted into such hotspots as well.

On the occasion, he unveiled Dell Laptops that are supposed to be given away in the scheme. Black skinned laptops are going to be for boys while red colored laptops for the girls.

It appears that Laptops given away to students are Dell Inspiron N5050.


http://propakistani.pk/2012/01/30/punjab-laptop-scheme-launched-free-internet-to-be-offered-soon/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's Express Tribune on IT contractors in Pakistan:

..From business process outsourcing to developing smartphone apps, Pakistani IT professionals are seem to be going after every opportunity, especially in the online job market, to bring home valuable foreign exchange.

In high demand, Pakistani IT professionals are growing significantly on oDesk, a Silicon valley-based online marketplace, in terms of both revenues and subscriptions to the platform.

“Pakistan is one of our largest contractor bases, and it is growing steadily,” CEO Gary Swart said in reply to queries through email. Contractors in Pakistan earned almost $1.5 million on oDesk in January 2012 alone, he said. “That figure is more than double the $700,000 they earned in January 2011, which is really an impressive growth!”

In January 2012, Swart said, more than 4,500 contractors from Pakistan signed up for oDesk, which enables businesses to hire, manage and pay a flexible online workforce, representing significant growth over previous months.

The top five categories of oDesk that work in Pakistan, according to the CEO, are web programming, web design, search engine optimisation, software development and mobile apps.

“In these five categories alone, contractors from Pakistan earned $796,000 in January 2012.” The number of Pakistani professionals that sign up for oDesk is growing steadily at a rate of 11% month over month, he added.

As seen from the top five job categories for Pakistani contractors, Swart said, there is certainly a large demand for their IT skills on the oDesk marketplace – which was the seventh fastest-growing company of Silicon Valley in 2011, according to the Silicon Valley Business Journal.

oDesk, according to Swart, is world’s largest online marketplace – as measured by dollars earned by contractors each month – and has 1.6 million registered contractors where 120,000 new jobs are posted each month. Contractors earned more than $225 million on oDesk last year, he said.

IT services are definitely a sweet spot for the oDesk marketplace in general, Swart said. The top two job categories on oDesk overall – web development and software development – together make up more than half of the total earnings on the platform, and demand for IT skills continues to grow rapidly.

Pakistan’s IT industry, according to Pakistan Software Export Board, has seen steady growth over the last few years despite sluggish economic growth – thanks to the online job market.

IT and IT-enabled services exports stood between $560 million and $860 million last year, according to former managing director of PSEB Imran Zia. On a Y-o-Y basis, the IT sector has been growing at 15% to 20% for the last three years and the growth in 2011 was about 15%. The future outlook for Pakistani IT professionals looks promising as IT jobs are in high demand on oDesk, where subscription rate of Pakistani contractors is growing steadily.

“IT jobs are our most in-demand category – which means we have significantly more IT opportunities for contractors from all countries, Pakistan included,” Swart said. “So we believe that we have more Pakistani IT professionals than any other online work marketplace,” he added.


http://tribune.com.pk/story/338556/pakistani-it-professionals-in-high-demand/

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan gets World Bank grant to set up mobile development lab for South Asia, reports Express Tribune:

In a move that would help spur the already booming development of IT content, Pakistan has beaten off competition from regional countries to bag World Bank’s contract for setting up a research lab for mobile software development including apps, The Express Tribune has learnt.

Pakistan Software Export Board – the agency tasked with the implementation of the project – has not made any official announcement, however, a well informed official told the Express Tribune that World Bank approved $380,000 in grants to Pakistan in November 2011 for a two-year project, mLab South Asia, to be set up in Lahore.

World Bank’s division InfoDev planned to establish five mobile software development research labs across the world including one in the Saarc region, the official said. India and Sri Lanka were also shortlisted for the region but Pakistan was picked as the final destination.

The business plan focuses on combining arts and science schools under the umbrella of PSEB. “We proposed that we will bring these two communities together for content-based applications,” a PSEB official who requested anonymity. “Our plan inspired them and we won the grant to set up the lab, he added.

PSEB is leading the project while Indus Valley School of Arts and Architecture, National College of Arts, and University of Engineering and Technology (UET) are among the implementation partners, the official said. The lab will be setup at UET, he added.

The purpose of the project is to establish mobile labs as specialised business incubators supporting mobile technology entrepreneurs, application developers and innovators, said infoDev Senior Communications Officer Angela Bekkers in an e-mail.

Bekkers said the grant comes from a Finland-financed trust fund, managed by infoDev, a global partnership programme in the World Bank. InfoDev’s mission is to enable innovative entrepreneurship for sustainable and inclusive growth, she added.

The blue print of the project is ready, according to PSEB official, and WB has already released the first year installment of $240,000 to PSEB earlier this year. The paper work is complete, courses have been designed, events have been planned for tech and art people, he said. The project will be executed after PSEB disburses funds to implementation partners. Pakistan Software Export Board did not respond to email queries sent by The Express Tribune.


http://tribune.com.pk/story/354211/software-development-lab-pakistan-beats-india-and-sri-lanka-to-get-contract/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a report about growth of B2B transactions led by tradekey.com in Pakistan:

The global B2B e-commerce transactions have crossed US$ 12.4 trillion milestone in 2012 which was just US$ 3.4 trillion in 2005. If Pakistani businesses explore the online business opportunities, Pakistan has enormous potential to increase its exports many fold within few years.

These views were expressed by Hafiz Saqif, head of global business expansion of TradeKey while addressing the MIT enterprise forum Pakistan, at IBA Campus. TradeKey, a Pakistani B2B online portal which is ranked 3rd largest business to business website in the world, facilitates over US$ 100 million import/export transactions every month through its website.

Tradekey claims that world over the online trade business is touching new heights but Pakistan doesn’t have any substantial share in online trade. Internet is the future of Pakistani economy and if we utilize the full potential of opportunities available on the internet, country can easily accelerate its exports many fold.

The senior TradeKey official emphasized on the need to utilize universities and academia in developing resources that can explore the true strength of online businesses. He also shared the next year plan of TradeKey in reviving Pakistani exports by laying a comprehensive corporate club program that smartly integrate resources from the manufacturing industry and teams them up with universities students having online exposure. This, Tradekey claims, will not only reduce the gap between the industry and the online world but will also develop a pool of skilled resources that can take Pakistani export to the next level.

TradeKey facilitates importers and exporters worldwide by providing them with the opportunity to interact with the businesses of their interest around the world through its website. TradeKey is Pakistan’s first and only Business to Business website and has its major clientele in US and China. Over US$ 100 million buying and selling that takes place through TradeKey website is mainly from US, China and Europe.


http://www.thenewstribe.com/2012/04/03/pakistan-crosses-global-b2b-e-commerce-transactions-of-12-4-trillion-in-2012/#.T3o298XnI14

http://www.tradekey.com/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an Express Tribune story on Tradekey, a B2B company based in Karachi:

You would never think that a company that was giving Alibaba.com – the world’s largest business-to-business portal – a run for its money around the world was based out of Karachi and yet there it is. Tucked away in an office suite on Sharae Faisal, the global headquarters of Tradekey.com look rather unremarkable, until you start asking the executives what they have achieved and what they plan on doing next.

“We want to be one of the world’s biggest companies,” says Junaid Mansoor, the founder and CEO of Tradekey, in a rather matter-of-fact tone of voice. “We want to be in businesses that affect the largest number of people.”

Tradekey.com, the world’s third largest B2B portal, is certainly an impressive beginning by the 32-year-old Mansoor, though by no means his first venture into the world of web-based start-ups. The serial entrepreneur created his first company when he was just 15 years old: a web-based e-mail service that promised to share its revenues with its users. (The site – moneywithmail.com – went bust when the dotcom bubble burst in 2001).

Tradekey.com has about 5.8 million members, of whom only about 5,000 have paid subscriptions, the source of the bulk of the company’s revenues, though the company also offers advertising services. While it does not release financial information about itself, based on the company’s fee for its two levels of premium services, Tradekey’s revenues are estimated to exceed $3 million a year.

Crucially from the company’s perspective, however, it has been growing at a rate of more than 86% a year (Tradekey did not offer a precise number). According to Mansoor, an analysis conducted by a third-party expert valued the company at around $700 million......


http://tribune.com.pk/story/275463/tradekey-a-pakistani-david-taking-on-a-chinese-goliath/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Post & Parcel report on modernization of Pakistan Post:

US company Escher Group has won a contract to provide its point-of-service software for post offices in Pakistan.

The Boston-based firm said today it has secured the deal with Islamabad-based information and communications technology firm TelcoNet, a contractor for Pakistan Post.

The deal will mean initially trialling Escher’s RiposteEssential retail point-of-sale system in a number of branches, before potentially rolling the system out to the network of 13,000 Pakistan Post branches.

Escher said centralising Pakistan Post’s financial services would mean customers being able to access them easily and more conveniently.

The project is the first part of an “ambitious” effort by Pakistan Post to improve its entire network and automate a full range of services including mail, retail services and payment processes.

Escher said its RiposteEssential system is now in use in 32 countries worldwide.

The Riposte system is described by its producer as “middleware”, allowing different applications operating on different computers to communicate with each other and manage data centrally. RiposteEssential serves the mail and courier markets, linking postal facilities with utilities, financial services companies, banks and governments.

Liam Church, Escher’s chief executive, said the deal with TelcoNet was a significant development for his company in Asia.

“Pakistan Post is one of the largest postal operators in the region and Escher is looking forward to assisting the Post in its modernisation strategy,” he said.

Irfan Ali, the CEO at TelcoNet, said: “This partnership with Escher is testament to our commitment to work with world-leading technology providers that provide value-added solutions to clients such as Pakistan Post.”


http://postandparcel.info/46972/news/companies/escher-group-to-help-pakistan-post-modernise-network/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an ET report on PM Gilani's plan to promote online education in Pakistan's under-served areas:

Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani has announced that the federal government will allocate Rs17 billion for the development of Information Technology (IT) infrastructure and broadband connectivity in un-served areas in the next budget.

Addressing the third convocation of Virtual University at the Expo Centre here on Saturday, the prime minister said that education in general and science and technology education in particular were “a matter of life and death” for the nation.

He said his government had already spent Rs22 billion on IT. He also announced an IT award of Rs20 million for talented students from backward areas.

Gilani said that broadband centres would be established in each union council and these would provide 30,000 jobs this year. He also announced the establishment of 30 more Virtual University campuses throughout the country including in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan.

The prime minister directed the IT minister to expedite the awarding of contracts for 3G mobile technology in Pakistan.

He said that this technology would create jobs and promote development. He said that he had directed the finance minister to create 100,000 jobs in the budget for 2012-13.

“An educated Pakistan, which is the vision of Virtual University, is in line with my government’s determination to provide an affordable and quality education to all at the same time. I want the university to undertake expansion projects and increase its nationwide presence. I have already approved, in principle, the setting up of a custom-built Virtual University campus in every district of the country. I am very glad to hear that the first four campuses under this initiative have already started functioning,” he said.

Gilani said though education was a provincial subject after the passage of the 18th Amendment, the federal government was “committed to increasing the share of GDP for education in line with the Millennium Development Goals”.

Pakistan currently has one of the lowest rates in the world of spending on education as a proportion of GDP.

The prime minister praised Virtual University for its “quality and innovative techniques of delivery”. He noted that the university’s open course ware website had been recognised as the best in the world by the Open Courseware Consortium that included such world leaders as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford and Yale.

Gilani said that the government was planning to raise the rate of enrolment in higher education significantly in coming years. “The only way this quantitative and qualitative growth can take place is through an effective use of technology for the dissemination of education for students residing in all areas of the country. I am glad that Virtual University is playing its due role in this respect,” he added


http://tribune.com.pk/story/381449/it-infrastructure-pm-announces-rs17-billion-for-broadband/

Riaz Haq said...

Here are excerpts of a Nature magazine article on higher education support in Musharraf years:

Despite the problems, science has been flourishing in Karachi and other Pakistani cities, thanks to an unprecedented investment in the country's higher-education system between 2002 and 2008 (see 'Rollercoaster budget'). As funding increased more than fivefold in that time, new institutes focusing on proteomics and agricultural research sprouted, and the University of Karachi's natural sciences department rose from nowhere to 223 in the 2009 QS World University Rankings.
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The surge in higher-education investment occurred after the rise to power of General Pervez Musharraf in 1999, who as leader of the army had led a low-key coup d'état and installed himself as de facto president. Musharraf was a liberal progressive who hoped to modernize Pakistan. "It was a moment in Pakistani history that now seems so distant," says Adil Najam, an expert in international development at Boston University in Massachusetts.

With the economy booming in the early 2000s, Pakistani academics sensed an opportunity. Higher education had never had much popular support in the country, where literacy hovers at about 50%, but in Musharraf they saw a champion. In a series of reports, Najam and others made the case that if the nation could mobilize its universities, it could transform from a poor agricultural state into a knowledge economy (see Nature 461, 38–39; 2009). The group called for a new Higher Education Commission (HEC) to manage the investment, as well as better wages for professors, more grants for PhD students and a boost in research funding.
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Rahman, a chemist at the University of Karachi and, at the time, the minister for science and technology, enthusiastically set out to overhaul the nation's universities. With Musharraf's support, annual research funding shot up 474% to 270 million rupees (US$4.5 million in 2002) in the first year alone. The HEC set aside money for PhD students and created a tenure-track system that would give qualified professors a monthly salary of around US$1,000–4,000 — excellent pay by Pakistani standards.

Rahman's strong scientific background, enthusiasm for reform and impressive ability to secure cash made him a hit at home and abroad. "It really was an anomaly that we had a person of that stature with that kind of backing," says Naveed Naqvi, a senior education economist at the World Bank, based in Islamabad. "Atta-ur-Rahman was a force of nature."
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Between 2003 and 2009, Pakistan churned out about 3,000 PhDs, roughly the same number awarded throughout its previous 55-year history. More than 7,000 PhD students are now in training at home and abroad. Meanwhile, scientific research publications have soared from roughly 800 in 2002 to more than 4,000 in 2009 (see 'Publishing power')...


http://www.nature.com/news/2010/100922/full/467378a.html

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an ET story on the man who drafted Pakistan first IT policy:

The man who drafted Pakistan’s first IT policy, Dr S M Junaid Zaidi, has been awarded an honorary Doctor of Science degree by Lancaster University in the United Kingdom, said a press release issued on Tuesday.

Dr Zaidi, awarded the prestigious Sitara-i-Imtiaz in 2007, is the founding rector of the Comsats Institute of Information Technology (CIIT), which was chartered by the government in 2000 and has grown to have campuses in seven cities, over 20,000 students and 2,500 faculty members.

Dr Zaidi’s professional experience spans 36 years, said the press release. His expertise ranges from devising Build-Operate-Transfer mechanisms to Technology Commercialization and Utilization, Project Planning & Management, Industrial Information Networking, Operations Research, System Designing, Technology Policy Analysis, Technology Monitoring & Forecasting and Technology Transfer.

He holds a doctorate in Optimisation of Algorithms on Networking from the University of Birmingham in England. Before CIIT, Dr Zaidi served in many distinguished high profile positions at the United Nations (UN) and in the Government of Pakistan, said the press release.

In his time with the UN, Dr Zaidi served as an adviser to the Malaysian government and later at the UN ESCAP Asia and Pacific Centre, where he was part of advisory missions to Fiji, Ghana, Indonesia, Malaysia, Nepal, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Thailand and Vietnam as a UN expert on IT and helped them establish their technology transfer and industrial technology information systems.

He also wrote two concept papers for the government and Comsats, which led to the establishment of the Virtual University and Comsats Internet Services.


http://tribune.com.pk/story/412598/for-man-who-drafted-pakistans-first-it-policy-an-honorary-degree/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a TOI story of dearth of research in India:

NEW DELHI: At a time when India is being looked at as the next big knowledge superpower, this could come as a shocker. Just 3.5% of global research output in 2010 was actually from India. In most disciplines, India's share in global research output was actually much below this overall average count.

Sample this - India's share of world research output in clinical medicine was a meagre 1.9% in 2010, 0.5% in psychiatry, 1.4% in neurosciences, 1.8% in immunology, 2.1% in molecular biology and just 3.5% in environmental research.

In mathematics, India's share of world output stood at around 2% in 2010 while it was 17% for China. In case of materials sciences, India's share of world research stood at 6.4% in 2010 while China's stood at 26% -- a rise from 5% in 1996.

While India's research on physics stood at 4.6% in 2010, China's stood at 19%.

In 2010, India's largest shares of world research output were in chemistry (6.5%), materials science (6.4%), agricultural sciences (6.2%), pharmacology and toxicology (6.1%), microbiology (4.9%), physics (4.6%) and engineering (4.2%).

India is often referred to as the next big place for computer sciences. But the figures on its research is abysmally low. Only 2.4% of global research on computer sciences was from India in 2010 while the world share moved to three emerging research economies - China 15%, Korea 6.3% and Taiwan 5.7%.

India's global share of research in economics stood at 0.7% in 2010 while in social sciences it was worse - 0.6%.

The biggest declines in volume of research between 1981 and 2010 were in plant and animal sciences (-2.2%) and agricultural sciences (-1.6%). The most significant expansions were in pharmacology and toxicology (+4.2%), microbiology (+3.2%) and materials sciences (+3.1%).

These are the findings of the study on India's research output and collaboration conducted by Thomson Reuters and recently submitted to the department of science and technology.

"India has been the sleeping giant of Asia. Research in the university sector, stagnant for at least two decades, is now accelerating but it will be a long haul to restore India as an Asian knowledge hub. Indian higher education is faced with powerful dilemmas and difficult choices - public/private, access/equity, uncertain regulation, different teaching standards and contested research quality," the report said.

According to it, India's share of world output in engineering fell from 4.3% in 1981 to 2.2% by 1995. India later regained its lost share, increasing to 4.25 by 2010. However, even then, India was overtaken by China (16.4%), Korea (5.4%) and Taiwan (4.4%).

India, where agriculture dominates economic standards, had quite a large share in agricultural sciences which averaged 7.45% over the 1981 to 1995 period, well ahead of other emerging research economies. Its share, however, fell to 6.2% in 2010. Even in the field of plant and animal sciences, the global research output fell from 6.1% in 1981 to 3.9% in 2010.

The report said, "India has a long and distinguished history as a country of knowledge, learning and innovation. In the recent past, however, it has failed to realize its undoubted potential as a home for world class research."

It added, "During the 1980s and 90s, the output of India's research was almost static while other countries grew rapidly, particularly in Asia. China expanded with an intensity and drive that led it rapidly to overtake leading European countries in the volume of its research publications. India is just beginning on this gradient."


http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/India-accounts-for-just-3-5-of-global-research-output-Study/articleshow/16551045.cms

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an IBM press release in Sacramento Bee on its contract for mobile banking technology in Pakistan:

KARACHI, Pakistan, Nov. 1, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced that Monet, one of Pakistan's leading mobile-commerce providers, has selected a customized IBM cloud-based solution that will enable the company to enhance service efficiency and expand its presence across the country.

Launched in 2012, Monet provides banks, mobile network operators and branchless banking agents in Pakistan with a technology platform that offers end-users a simple interface through which they can access a wide range of financial services on their mobile phones.

Mobile banking and financial services are expected to grow significantly in Pakistan in the coming years. Increased demand for affordable banking, a lack of traditional banking infrastructure and an aggressive branchless banking mandate from the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has driven quick uptake of mobile banking in the country.

With a population of 180 million, a mobile phone penetration of more than 70% and a banked ratio of only 22%, Pakistan offers a large potential market for Mobile Financial Services (MFS). According to an SBP recent branchless banking newsletter, the number of mobile banking accounts was at 1.45 million, showing a growth of 37% during the second quarter of 2012, with new level zero account openings registering a jump of 370%. The existing accounts activity level also improved substantially during the quarter as the number of active accounts increased by 66%.1

To capture this opportunity, Monet chose IBM to develop a unique IT environment allowing the company to offer reliable and efficient services to a growing customer base throughout the country.

"Mobile financial services have reached an inflection point where they have moved from niche to mainstream," said Ali Abbas Sikander, CEO, Monet. "We believe mobile can potentially become the strongest channel for the delivery of financial services. IBM's cloud solution will allow us to reach our clients easily, giving us access to a wider base of customers and ultimately extending the reach of financial services in the country."

IBM will develop a specialized solution based on IBM SmartCloud technology, to deploy Monet's mobile banking applications from Fundamo, a leading mobile financial services platform provider and an IBM partner. The private cloud will allow Monet to save on initial investments in IT and help the company offer more efficient services at a reduced cost.

IBM SmartCloud infrastructure is based on IBM servers, storage and software optimized to meet growing mobile demand. In addition, Monet has outsourced the entire networking, security, cryptographic solutions, and disaster recovery to IBM, in order to focus on its core business.

"Mobile and Cloud are a powerful combination to provide sustainable and affordable banking services to millions of people in Pakistan," said Adnan Siddiqui, CGM, IBM Pakistan and Afghanistan. "IBM has global experience in the financial services sector and a thorough understanding of the local market, and our engagement with Monet is expected to benefit banking customers across the country."..


Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2012/11/01/4953392/leading-pakistan-mobile-banking.html

http://www.monet-online.com/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt of MIT Technology Review piece on controlling dengue fever outbreak using smartphones in Lahore, Pakistan:

Last year, the city of Lahore, Pakistan, was hit with the worst outbreak of dengue fever in its history. The mosquito-transmitted disease infected some 16,000 people and took 352 lives. This year was a completely different story. There were only 234 confirmed cases and no deaths. The magnitude of the disease varies year to year, but some of the turnaround could be credited to a new system of tracking and predicting outbreaks in the region.

Researchers working for the Pakistani government developed an early epidemic detection system for their region that looked for telltale signs of a serious outbreak in data gathered by government employees searching for dengue larvae and confirmed cases reported from hospitals. If the system’s algorithms spotted an impending outbreak, government employees would then go to the region to clear mosquito breeding grounds and kill larvae. “Getting early epidemic predictions this year helped us to identify outbreaks early,” says Umar Saif, a computer scientist at the Lahore University of Management Sciences, and a recipient of MIT Technology Review's Innovators Under 35 award in 2011.

“This year, because of the tracking system and the efforts of government employees on the ground, we could look at a map and tell if certain areas were going to develop into an epidemic,” says Saif, who has been working with the government during a sabbatical. “The key is to be able to localize and quarantine a disease like this and prevent it from developing into an epidemic,” he says.

The groundwork for the early detection system was another project headed by Saif: Flubreaks. This system processes data from Google Flu Trends, which estimates the spread of flu based on search terms related to the disease. “That whole idea of being able to scrape digital data has helped us find outbreaks faster,” says Mark Smolinski, director of Global Health Threats at Skoll Global Threats Fund, a nonprofit that recently helped launch a site called Flu Near You, which tracks flu based on a weekly electronic survey that asks people about their health and any flu symptoms.

Smolinski was part of the team at Google to develop Google Flu Trends, which he says can speed up outbreak identification. “You can gain a couple of weeks just by aggregating data of search terms on the Internet,” he says.

While Google Flu Trends identifies outbreaks as they occur, Flubreaks can see them before they start by teasing out global flu trends and making early epidemic predictions.

The results from Flubreaks closely matched actual outbreaks reported by the Centers for Disease Control, says Saif. “We found that idea very exciting,” says Saif. Countries like Pakistan typically do not have a well established disease surveillance network, he says. “We want one for dengue in Pakistan, but it’s a very expensive and difficult thing to manage.”
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The dengue monitoring system relies on real-world field testing of mosquito larvae and reports from hospitals to predict where dengue outbreaks are starting. If a certain neighborhood is suspected to be at the beginning of an outbreak, then government officials could search out mosquito-larvae reservoirs such as pools of water that are likely causing the problem.

The system was put to use this summer. Using 1,500 Android phones, government workers in the region tracked the location and timing of confirmed dengue cases and the mosquito larvae that carry the disease. Each case was tagged by time and location. “Because of the Android phones, we could localize the outbreak to a couple of hundred houses. Inevitably, we would find some water in or near these houses.” ....


http://www.technologyreview.com/news/506276/pakistan-uses-smartphone-data-to-head-off-dengue-outbreak/

HopeWins Junior said...

Okay, so 3 years have now passed since you published this article.

1) How much has our IT industry grown in the last three years? What is its current size? At the 40% CAGR number you mention, it must be at least 7-9 Billion$ by now. Is this correct?

2) Have we moved to BPM6 or whatever the latest fudge factor is? How much are our IT exports now? Are they still 50% of our IT output? So are our IT exports now at 3-4 billion $? Is this correct?

Would you please update your loyal readers?

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an ET report on tech market growth in Pakistan:

“Broadband penetration and mobile telidensity is creating a bandwidth shortage in Pakistan, which will widen manifold as third generation mobile technology rolls out. That’s where we see the opportunity, as businesses will need to optimise their hardware, storage and software,” says Oracle Corporation’s Vice President of ASEAN Systems Sales Ron Goh.

Goh, in an interview with journalists, said that current data centre operations are unsustainable and often fail to meet the needs of growing businesses. “By optimising existing data centres,” he said, “organisations can significantly increase IT efficiency along with system performance, availability and security. By doing this, they can reduce their spending on systems operations and integration that eat up around 80% of the IT budget,” he added.

Through Data Centre Optimisation (DCO), businesses can lower operation costs by 75%, according to Goh. “DCO is not a machine or software, but a combination of storage, servers, operating systems, engineered systems and software to simplify the IT infrastructure,” he explained.

“Pakistan is a fast growing country where demand for technology is increasing,” Goh observed, “even businesses that have Data Centre Optimisation technology want to upgrade the same to global standards.”

Explaining the need for upgrading database storage infrastructure, “These new challenges can’t be met with application silos [storage towers] running on aging hardware technologies,” he said.

Giving an example, Goh said organisations which have implemented more efficient technologies were not only able to lower operating costs, but also drove better productivity, which ultimately gives the organisation a quantifiable return on investment and a real competitive advantage within the industry.

Operating in Pakistan since 1997, Oracle’s clientele has grown to 1,100 customers.Through its local partners, the database giant helps businesses adopt integrated information technology infrastructures for higher work efficiency.


http://tribune.com.pk/story/469356/oracle-sees-growth-in-pakistani-tech-industry/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a News report on Teradata business operations in Pakistan:

KARACHI: Stephen Brobst, Chief Technology Officer of Teradata, is impressed with talent base in Pakistan. In his recent visit to Pakistan, he said this was the only reason prompting the company to keep its operational base in Pakistan while extending its data warehousing services across Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Gulf Cooperation Council. These services are essential for organisations that keep interacting with a number of customers and their queries on daily basis.



Data warehousing provides an enormous repository to not only store but also compare present and historical records to facilitate corporate decision making. A PhD from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a member of Barack Obama’s ‘President’s Innovation and Technology Advisory Committee’, he looked quite eager to educate organisations—the targets are financial and telecom sectors—in Pakistan about the benefits of utilising data warehousing (a next step to enterprise resource planning) prior to devise pricing plan, marketing strategies, or funding decisions during an interview with The News. Following are the excerpts.



Why enterprise data warehousing is important?



All the sectors can take advantage of data warehousing. Health sector can utilise the technology to upgrade quality of services by decreasing costs. The Obama administration has asked the committee to formulate solutions to keep track on a number of patients, their diseases, health history, etc. On the basis of these data analytics, hospitals can reduce discrepancies existing in the data. Data warehousing enables, for example, hospitals to maintain health records and patients to keep away from frequent visitations to doctors



Given the low fund allocation to health sector in Pakistan, is data warehousing practical?



I can’t comment on the government’s funding. However, if the government of Pakistan asks us to work on the data, we are ready to extend our services.



Which organisations are Teradata catering to in Pakistan?



Pakistan International Airlines, Telenor Pakistan, and Nadra are few names that our company has served. Every organisation that deals with tonnes of data to perform its day-to-day jobs can benefit from our data warehousing (which transforms data into relevant information to formulate best pricing plan for instance). All top- and mid-tier companies and institutes can use our integrated data warehousing, data analytics, and business applications. ..


http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-3-151306-Teradata-to-keep-regional-operational-base-in-Pakistan

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an ET Op Ed on IT developments anticipated in 2012:

2013 will see the adoption of Cloud services continue to grow in Pakistan. Increasingly, customers – both individuals and companies – will seek to store their data ‘in the Cloud’ as opposed to physical data servers, as well as avail of software services on a ‘rental’ basis. Large MNCs, banks and other financial services companies have already moved into this domain some time ago. Looking forward, educational institutions are likely to take the next step, as digitisation of educational content takes place. Some progressive institutions have already adopted softwares such as Moodle and Learning Management Systems and incorporated their curriculum on them, thereby preparing their scholars for a digital future.
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Pakistan has over 100 million cellular subscribers; reportedly, around 10% of these use smart phones. Data usage has grown substantially, and there are an estimated 10 million mobile data users in Pakistan. However, it is important to note that 3G has been overhyped and may actually fall short of expectations, as it has in India.

Almost a year into its launch in India, only 2% of subscribers have opted for 3G services. 3G will require ubiquitous coverage for consumers to be satisfied with the services. WiMAX can play an important role here by offering a solution for data backhauling for telecom operators. Wateen has already deployed around 250 WiFi hotspots in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad, and is ideally positioned to fulfill the data needs for mobile operators.
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Branchless banking and m-commerce services will be the biggest innovations for the year. New entrants (Zong and Askari Bank, and Mobilink and Waseela) have recently launched their offerings and promise to improve the take-up of this service. New payment solutions will also be a first in the country, as smart phones enable swipe magnetic card readers and pioneering companies such as Inov8 Ltd begin to deliver on their potential for the consumer market. Smart phone apps will also be big.
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In Pakistan, some companies have already started bringing Android-based devices for as low as Rs5,000. Indians have recently announced that they will be developing the world’s cheapest tablet for $35. These devices will play an exceptional role in transforming societies. The consumerisation of IT has already started taking place in Pakistan. Companies like QMobile will play an important role in the proliferation of low-cost handheld devices. This, in turn, will impact the use of mobile internet and broadband, open WiFi and WiMAX, as well as Cloud services, as consumers look to access data and media on their handheld devices.


http://tribune.com.pk/story/499410/notes-from-the-world-of-it-2013--looking-ahead-into-the-year/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Daily Times report on AI and Robotics education in Pakistan:

ISLAMABAD: Robotics as a discipline of science and technology is being taught at the graduate and post-graduate levels by more than 60 universities of Engineering Science and Technology in Pakistan, official sources told Daily Times here on Saturday.

The research and development (R&D) in advanced fields of Robotics and Artificial Intelligence has also been undertaken by some of laboratories established in the R&D institutes and universities in Pakistan. The official in the Ministry of Science and Technology claimed that there is a technical group engaged in development of automation of industrial processes at the National Institute of Electronics (NIE), Islamabad. The group has developed Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs), which are used in automatic industrial controls.

The Centre for Intelligent Machines and Robotics (IMR) at the COMSATS Institute of Information Technology has a Research Group, which is undertaking research related to robotics, computer vision and machine learning. The IMR Research Group is conducting basic and applied research in robotics technologies relevant to industrial and societal tasks; the robotics technology in Pakistan has the potential role in boosting the productivity and competitiveness. The researchers at CIIT are working for projects on visual guided robotic systems for use in surgery, navigation control, mapping and geometric representation of environmental parameters.

National Engineering Robotics Contest (NERC) is an inter universities robotics competition held annually since 2005 at the NUST. The contest is organised by HEC, the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Careers Project with more than 60 Pakistani universities participating in the event, and aims to train individuals for engineering services in Pakistan, and cash prizes are awarded to the winners.

NERC 2011 held at the College of Electrical and Mechanical Engineering (EME), Rawalpindi from June 28 to July 2. Many universities like FAST, GIKI, LUMS, CASE and UET Lahore participated in the event, where students were encouraged to design, develop and programme their respective robots.

R&D projects on Tele-Surgical Training Robot and Simulators and Development of Intelligent Robotic Wheelchairs are being undertaken by NUST funded by ICT R&D Fund.

International workshops and seminars for knowledge sharing and events at national level for talent hunt among youth in the fields of robotics have been organised regularly at NUST. Specialisation in robotics is a popular choice for students going abroad to study under various scholarships schemes for research and PhD. This field offers job opportunities, and robotics engineers can apply their mastery in diverse fields like modern warfare, surgery, nano-technology and space-exploration.

The official claimed that developing a robot comes with the goal of finding a solution to the problem. Along with the technical know-how, interest in research is essential. This field has promising opportunities, with no boundaries and will continue to grow with the advancement of science and technology in the near future.


http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2013\02\10\story_10-2-2013_pg5_12

Riaz Haq said...

Here's ET on Acer beefing up presence in Pakistan:

LAHORE: Acer, a Taiwanese multinational hardware and electronics corporation have re-launched their presence in Pakistan, with a special focus on youth and government functionaries to capture the emerging information technology market.

In September 2012, The Express Tribune reported that the government planned to spend Rs4.6 billion on IT projects during the fiscal year 2012-13 with an emphasis on strengthening e-government, human resources and infrastructure development. Keeping the investment in mind, Acer is thinking of capitalising on it.

“After relocating our operations from the Middle East to Pakistan, Acer has formally started sales and marketing operations in the country with an initial office in Islamabad since January 2013,” said Amin Mortazavi, Vice President of Acer Middle East and Africa, at the re-launch ceremony. “We are here for a purpose, which we lacked previously.”

The emerging IT sector of Pakistan, especially in Punjab, has forced Acer to shift its operations to here. “We are revamping our setup and landscape with our distributors and channel partners. This, of course, will need investments, which we have planned for future expansions.”

Moreover, this will also aid masses in acquisition of Acer products, besides generating employment opportunities, Mortazavi said.
---------
“We will launch more tablets in 2013, at affordable prices, catering the needs of the region,” Mortazavi said.

50% of Pakistan’s population is under 30 years of age and their appetite for information is big, therefore Acer seeks to tap this market segment.

Acer is also eager to work closely with the provincial government, especially after the launch of youth programmes particularly in the shape of laptop distributions. Acer was hopeful to score the contract for the scheme, which they previously failed to secure. “We are eager for this, we want to deliver, but with due process, and we are working on this also.”

The business model, which Acer is adopting for Pakistan is quite interesting. The representatives failed to answer the initial investment figures Acer made for the re-launch.

The tech firm wanted to be transparent, growing step-by-step and proceeding to the next goal only after the first one matures. The company’s Islamabad office will, firstly, focus on commercial business and work for importing latest technology. Later, Acer will revamp its entire channel programme and then run a campaign to build a brand image.

“We are not in a position to tell the exact figures of the initial investment,” said Ali Nemati, General Manager of Acer for the Middle East, the person previously supervising Acer’s Pakistani operations from Dubai. “Once we achieve the first step of the business plan, in three months, then I will be able to tell the figures,” he said.

Acer claims that they still have a 30% market share in Pakistan, despite of their absence, but the officials said that the share is not the goal for them; it is just an indicator of growth for the brand. Acer’s partners and distributors look forward to increased support from the global firm, particularly in terms of customised training, certification, and sales lead generation.

“Our partners will be able to see immediate benefits as we focus on making the channel more profitable. The Pakistani IT market is constantly evolving and is of significant importance to Acer. We have made great progress in the last few years, and empowering our channel is instrumental for our continued success,” Nemati added.


http://tribune.com.pk/story/506411/acer-re-launches-brand-in-pakistan/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's PakObserver on Dell business in Pakistan:

Wednesday, February 13, 2013 - Peshawar—Dell is proud to be doing its part in developing literacy and promoting education in Pakistan. Dell was recently selected to provide the provincial government of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) 25,000 Inspiron3420 computers, the first round of distribution was conducted on Feb 10 at Peshawar University.

Speaking about the initiative, Project Director KPK, Adeel Khan, said “This project is a great leap in terms of equipping our youth to meet the challenges of the modern world and to keep Pakistan a competitor in the global knowledge economy. Dell’s involvement goes a long way in guaranteeing the success of this initiative.”

The initiative is the largest of its kind ever in the province and is designed to help enable students and people of KPK to become productive and contributing members of society and to give back to the province.

Shahzad Aslam Khan, Country Manager Dell Pakistan & Afghanistan, said “We look forward to working with KPK as they increase technology access and the learning potential for students. Mobile computing devices have become essential to daily life — at work, at home and increasingly, in academic institutions. Students are leveraging devices of all kinds to access information, collaborate with their peers and teachers, and produce dynamic content inside and outside of the classroom.

At Dell, we believe these devices can help support teaching and learning – and have the potential to personalize the learning experience for each student.Dell is delighted to work with KPK in this important program and is committed to providing these devices by meeting aggressive time lines and ensuring highest product quality”.


http://pakobserver.net/detailnews.asp?id=195707

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an IEEE Spectrum piece on Stuxnet virus:

1986

The Brain boot sector virus (aka Pakistani flu), the first IBM PC–compatible virus, is released and causes an epidemic. It was created in Lahore, Pakistan, by 19-year-old Basit Farooq Alvi and his brother, Amjad Farooq Alvi.
-----------

Computer cables snake across the floor. Cryptic flowcharts are scrawled across various whiteboards adorning the walls. A life-size Batman doll stands in the hall. This office might seem no different than any other geeky workplace, but in fact it’s the front line of a war—a cyberwar, where most battles play out not in remote jungles or deserts but in suburban office parks like this one. As a senior researcher for Kaspersky Lab, a leading computer security firm based in Moscow, Roel Schouwenberg spends his days (and many nights) here at the lab’s U.S. headquarters in Woburn, Mass., battling the most insidious digital weapons ever, capable of crippling water supplies, power plants, banks, and the very infrastructure that once seemed invulnerable to attack.

Recognition of such threats exploded in June 2010 with the discovery of Stuxnet, a 500-kilobyte computer worm that infected the software of at least 14 industrial sites in Iran, including a uranium-enrichment plant. Although a computer virus relies on an unwitting victim to install it, a worm spreads on its own, often over a computer network.

This worm was an unprecedentedly masterful and malicious piece of code that attacked in three phases. First, it targeted Microsoft Windows machines and networks, repeatedly replicating itself. Then it sought out Siemens Step7 software, which is also Windows-based and used to program industrial control systems that operate equipment, such as centrifuges. Finally, it compromised the programmable logic controllers. The worm’s authors could thus spy on the industrial systems and even cause the fast-spinning centrifuges to tear themselves apart, unbeknownst to the human operators at the plant. (Iran has not confirmed reports that Stuxnet destroyed some of its centrifuges.)
------------
Companies have been slow to invest the resources required to update industrial controls. Kaspersky has found critical-infrastructure companies running 30-year-old operating systems. In Washington, politicians have been calling for laws to require such companies to maintain better security practices. One cybersecurity bill, however, was stymied in August on the grounds that it would be too costly for businesses. “To fully provide the necessary protection in our democracy, cybersecurity must be passed by the Congress,” Panetta recently said. “Without it, we are and we will be vulnerable.”

In the meantime, virus hunters at Kaspersky and elsewhere will keep up the fight. “The stakes are just getting higher and higher and higher,” Schouwenberg says. “I’m very curious to see what will happen 10, 20 years down the line. How will history look at the decisions we’ve made?”


http://spectrum.ieee.org/telecom/security/the-real-story-of-stuxnet

Riaz Haq said...

Here's ET on Freelancer.com launch in Pakistan:

KARACHI: With a self-employment boom and double-digit growth in internet subscriptions, Pakistan has become the third highest user of freelancer.com, the world’s biggest online marketplace in terms of user base, it was revealed at the launch of the website’s local version on Tuesday.

“Pakistan is the third largest country using the website [freelancer.com], closely following India and the United States,” said Adam Byrnes, International Director at freelancer who joined the ceremony through a video call from the company’s headquarters in Sydney, Australia.

“Pakistani freelancers have already earned more than $13 million from the platform,” he said.

Freelancer’s decision to launch the local website comes on the back of strong growth in subscriptions by Pakistani freelancers. The website presently has 240,000 Pakistani users.

According to a report prepared by freelancer, self-employed Pakistanis surged from 33.3% to 39.9% between 2009 and 2012. The report attributes this surge in subscriptions to the rise in internet use in Pakistan, which saw double-digit growth in the past five years. In terms of internet growth, Pakistan stands second in the Saarc region, the report said.

“I am excited about the launch of freelancer.pk because of the potential Pakistan represents for the platform,” said Byrnes who is responsible for expanding freelancer across the world. “This [Pakistan] is a high value market for employers abroad.”

With more than 30 million internet users, five million plus broadband users and a population approaching 200 million, according to Byrnes, it makes sense to have a presence in Pakistan.

“Going forward, we want to provide self-employment for a billion people, a significant portion of that is going to come from Pakistan,” he said.

Freelancer just hit seven million users globally and 4.2 million projects were facilitated by the website, Muhammad Umer Farooq, company director responsible for managing the freelancer website told The Express Tribune on the sidelines of the event.

“An amount of $150 million has been spent so far by users of freelancer.com,” he said, adding they make money by charging commission from both the employers and the freelancers who get projects.

Interestingly, Farooq pointed out, it is not only foreigners hiring Pakistani freelancers, but Pakistani companies are also giving contracts to Pakistani freelancers registered on the website. United States is the top country awarding 38% of total projects on freelancer while Pakistan stands fifth for it awards 4% of the projects.

The idea is to enable rupee transactions for Pakistani members for which the company is in talks with local banks, both Farooq and Byrnes said. “Secondly, we are soon going to have an Urdu version of the website,” Farooq said.

IT and graphic designing (logo design) are the top two categories at freelancer. Freelancers can bid for the projects posted by employers through a simple method, he said. Given that it is one of the top countries on the website, Pakistani freelancers can benefit from exposure to the international job markets – the UK, North America, Australia and Canada.


http://tribune.com.pk/story/516239/pakistan-3rd-highest-user-of-freelancer-as-self-employment-rises/

http://www.freelancer.com/work/paid-freelance-projects-pakistan/

Riaz Haq said...

Top four online outsourcing sites Elance.com, oDesk.com, reelancer.com, and Guru.com report that Pakistan ranks number 3, after US (#1)and India (#2), in terms of freelancers doing outsourced IT work on contract. Bangladesh ranks fourth.

It also shows US, Australia and the UK as the top hiring countries.

All of the above-mentioned websites work in a similar fashion: companies post job requirements on these sites. Next, freelancers or IT-companies offer their skills and price for the project listed on the website. Finally, the company chooses the best type of bid for its job requirements.

http://swproposal.com/Blog/Topic/How_to_work_with_Elance_oDesk_Freelancer_and_Guru

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Finextra report on mobile money in Pakistan:

A shared mobile money network, built on Visa's Fundamo technology, that can be tapped by banks and telcos is preparing to launch in Pakistan.
Monet - which was set up by the massive Abu Dhabi Group last year - has now secured approval from the State Bank of Pakistan to build its network, which is being offered to local firms planning to launch mobile money services.

Built on Fundamo technology, Monet says its offering will provide a managed service platform, agent management services and bill aggregation services to new financial institutions and network operators interested in entering branchless banking services.

The first clients are Pakistan's sixth largest financial institution, Bank Alfalah, and Warid Telecom, who have teamed up to launch a new brand on the platform.

Monet says that its network will make it cheaper, easier and quicker for firms to tap into Pakistan's huge unbanked market. According to the Pakistan Access to Finance Survey, only 12% of the population has access to formal financial services, yet mobile penetration stands at nearly 70%, says the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority.

A recent study by the Boston Consulting Group estimates that 35% of the country's adult population will be using mobile financial services by 2020.

Ali Abbas Sikander, CEO, Monet, says: "We are building an open and collaborative eco-system which benefits all the stakeholders of the financial services ecosystem in Pakistan. Collaborative mobile financial services, as opposed to bank-led or telco-led deployment, is the paradigm shift which will assist in creating a bigger and less costly enabling environment for the issuers, acquirers and service providers."

Aletha Ling, COO, Fundamo, adds: "The platform allows service providers to think big, start small and scale fast. The result will be an ecosystem that that will support the long term and sustained growth of the Pakistani mobile financial services market."


http://www.finextra.com/News/FullStory.aspx?newsitemid=24626

Riaz Haq said...

Here's Express Tribune on IT contractors in Pakistan:

..From business process outsourcing to developing smartphone apps, Pakistani IT professionals are seem to be going after every opportunity, especially in the online job market, to bring home valuable foreign exchange.

In high demand, Pakistani IT professionals are growing significantly on oDesk, a Silicon valley-based online marketplace, in terms of both revenues and subscriptions to the platform.

“Pakistan is one of our largest contractor bases, and it is growing steadily,” CEO Gary Swart said in reply to queries through email. Contractors in Pakistan earned almost $1.5 million on oDesk in January 2012 alone, he said. “That figure is more than double the $700,000 they earned in January 2011, which is really an impressive growth!”

In January 2012, Swart said, more than 4,500 contractors from Pakistan signed up for oDesk, which enables businesses to hire, manage and pay a flexible online workforce, representing significant growth over previous months.

The top five categories of oDesk that work in Pakistan, according to the CEO, are web programming, web design, search engine optimisation, software development and mobile apps.

“In these five categories alone, contractors from Pakistan earned $796,000 in January 2012.” The number of Pakistani professionals that sign up for oDesk is growing steadily at a rate of 11% month over month, he added.

As seen from the top five job categories for Pakistani contractors, Swart said, there is certainly a large demand for their IT skills on the oDesk marketplace – which was the seventh fastest-growing company of Silicon Valley in 2011, according to the Silicon Valley Business Journal.

oDesk, according to Swart, is world’s largest online marketplace – as measured by dollars earned by contractors each month – and has 1.6 million registered contractors where 120,000 new jobs are posted each month. Contractors earned more than $225 million on oDesk last year, he said.

IT services are definitely a sweet spot for the oDesk marketplace in general, Swart said. The top two job categories on oDesk overall – web development and software development – together make up more than half of the total earnings on the platform, and demand for IT skills continues to grow rapidly.

Pakistan’s IT industry, according to Pakistan Software Export Board, has seen steady growth over the last few years despite sluggish economic growth – thanks to the online job market.

IT and IT-enabled services exports stood between $560 million and $860 million last year, according to former managing director of PSEB Imran Zia. On a Y-o-Y basis, the IT sector has been growing at 15% to 20% for the last three years and the growth in 2011 was about 15%. The future outlook for Pakistani IT professionals looks promising as IT jobs are in high demand on oDesk, where subscription rate of Pakistani contractors is growing steadily.

“IT jobs are our most in-demand category – which means we have significantly more IT opportunities for contractors from all countries, Pakistan included,” Swart said. “So we believe that we have more Pakistani IT professionals than any other online work marketplace,” he added.


http://tribune.com.pk/story/338556/pakistani-it-professionals-in-high-demand/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Time Magazine article on Enernet---the use of information technology(IT) and Big Data in power grids:

Cutting energy waste is first and foremost a data challenge. You can’t cut waste until you know what you’re wasting, and most of us have only the slightest idea. Standard electricity meters take one reading for an entire month. Imagine trying to diet if all you knew was the total amount of food you ate every four weeks. Says Bennett Fisher, CEO of the building-efficiency start-up Retroficiency: “You need data to make energy saving work.”

We’ve got the data, thanks to the growth of smart, Internet-enabled sensors that can read and relay energy use almost in real time. A host of new big-data companies are figuring out how to crunch that information so energy users from huge factories to individual households can track and reduce waste. This combination of energy technology with the Internet–the industry calls it the Enernet–is the hottest sector in clean tech, in part because it relies on relatively cheap, easily scalable software rather than on the expensive factories needed for, say, making solar panels. “It’s much more capital-efficient,” says Roy Johnson, CEO of EcoFactor, an energy-management start-up.

And efficiency is what the Enernet is all about. Take Virginia-based Opower, one of the oldest and most successful Enernet companies. Opower began by offering homeowners the chance to compare their power use with their neighbors’. Just knowing whether they were energy hogs or energy saints–along with following Opower’s energy-efficiency tips–was enough to reduce waste among homeowners. But as smarter meters taking dozens of readings per day have begun to gather more-granular data, Opower has been able to offer much more. The company sorts through the data collected by smart meters to help customers identify exactly where the waste is occurring and how it can be reduced. “These are things we could never do without big-data analytics,” says Dan Yates, CEO of Opower.

For utilities, big data can be even more powerful and valuable for the bottom line. Smarter energy management can keep overloaded grids running and prevent the need for new, expensive plants. Energy use isn’t constant throughout the day or the year, but because utilities keep power running 24/7, they need to have spare capacity to accommodate spikes. Even if it isn’t needed all the time, that extra power has to be generated, usually by polluting and costly coal or gas plants. Companies like AutoGrid help utilities spread out the demand for energy, smoothing the spikes and reducing the need for unused excess power. AutoGrid’s algorithms sort through the petabytes of data from smart meters–adjusting for variables like weather–and spit out solutions that let utilities and their customers automatically shift nonessential electricity use to nonpeak times. The Enernet can also help utilities make better use of wind and solar power, compensating when the wind isn’t blowing or the sun isn’t shining. Amit Narayan, AutoGrid’s CEO, estimates that his company’s algorithms can help utilities get about 30% more power out of existing resources.

If we’re ever going to truly clean up our electrical grid, we’ll need to replace coal and natural gas with zero-carbon sources like solar or nuclear while improving efficiency. It won’t be easy or cheap. But a smarter, more efficient grid–enabled by the same intelligence that brought us the Internet–can help smooth that transition.


http://business.time.com/2013/03/28/smart-power/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Wired.com report on Karachi Hackathon:

Sabeen Mahmud has short-cropped hair and rectangular glasses; she’d fit right in hunched over a laptop at Philz or behind the counter at one of Apple’s Genius Bars. Her resume matches her style. She’s founded a small tech company, opened a hip coffee shop and organized a successful hackathon. But Mahmud doesn’t hail from the Bay – she lives in Karachi, a city more closely associated with extreme violence then entrepreneurs.

“Fear is just a line in your head,” Mahmud says. “You can choose what side of that line you want to be on.”

Mahmud represents something new in this ancient city. Mahmud “fell in passionately in love” with the first Mac she saw, teaching herself MacPaint and MacDraw in college in 1992, and devoting countless hours to Tetris. In 2006, Mahmud decided Karachi was sorely missing a space where people could gather around shared interests, an interdisciplinary space for collaboration and brainstorming. Despite the fact that in Pakistan, many women are not allowed to finish primary school, much less graduate from college and start their own company, she decided to start The Second Floor café, not letting the fact that she didn’t have any money or experience faze her. “I was living with my mother and my grandmother at the time,” she says, laughing. “I had done zero market research. I just hoped people would show up.”

People slowly have. The Second Floor now hosts four events a week, from poetry writings to live theater performances to forums on critical issues. Last month,the café hosted Pakistan’s first hackathon, a weekend-long event with nine teams focusing on solutions to civic problems in Pakistan ahead of last Saturday’s national election. “People are very disillusioned with mainstream politics right now,” Mahmud says. “We wanted to come up with a way to put that energy to use.”
-------
Starting with 30 high-level problem areas, they whittled it down to nine specific issues that could be solved with concrete apps. “Not a single soul questioned that these problems could not be solved,” Ahmed says. “It was all a matter of selecting the right approach.”..


http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2013/05/pakistans-first-hackathon/

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan to launch Science TV channel, reports Daily Times:

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Science Club (PSC) has launched beta version of Pakistan’s first science, technology, innovation and educational television, Techtv.pk, which will be fully functional by August 14.
Pakistan PSC President Abdul Rauf told APP that with the launch of this channel, people would be able to access significant amounts of information with reference to any topic in a short time through different programmes.
He said today television has become an important part of people’s life as a source of information, entertainment, a great tool for learning and education, and communications.
Many different programme genres have been used to address diverse audiences for a variety of formal and non-formal learning purposes with scientifically measured results, he said.
Abdul Rauf said the channel would air educational programmes in all subjects, including physics, chemistry, mathematics, biology and zoology, offering an excellent opportunity for young people to learn.
“In remote villages, it will help spread education to willing students through distance learning. Educational television will educate masses on hygiene, literacy, childcare and farming methods or on any topic related to day to day happenings,” he said.
PSC President said Techtv.pk would cover all events from Pakistan related to science and technology and educational activities.
It will also offer free online courses of web application development, DIY (do it yourself) projects, project management and other science and technology topics.
He said Techtv.pk also has an entertainment category with science fiction movies, cartoons and science entertainment programmes.
The channel will cover science and technology educational activities in addition to popularising the subjects through disseminating the relevant information and latest progress to students and common people.
Rauf said this television channel can prove to be very useful, easy to access at anytime from anywhere and users can access a significant amount of information with reference to any topic in a short time regardless of geographic barriers, allowing them to consult different points of view as well as hands-on experience through different DIY (do it yourself) projects.
The channel will use interactive and innovative programmes for this purpose that cover topics of science, chemistry, physics, education, technology, DIY projects, e-learning, documentaries, news, interviews, events, experiments and entertainment.
“The main objective of this web TV is to promote scientific culture and the youth’s interest in science, technology and innovations. The channel would also popularise science for laymen and students, seeking to cultivate the spirit of scientific inquiry and the love of learning in its audience,” said Abdul Rauf.


http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2013%5C08%5C07%5Cstory_7-8-2013_pg11_4

Athar said...

India even violates the BPM6. BPM6 allows the salaries of first year of migrant workers to be included in a country's BOP. India continuously and cumulatively adds all the earnings of its migrants to US in its software exports. So if 50,000 Indians migrate on H1B visas each year, and they each earn $50,000 a year, thats a $2.5 billion addition to their exports each year. Cumulatively over 10 years, this would be $25 billion in exports year after year and growing...This is a clear violation of BPM rules. A 2005 US GAO study noted that US Imports of software from India were around $400 million in 2004 or so. While India at that time was reporting exports of $8 billion to US. That's a 20 times difference. I don't think following India is the way to go. India's software exports are extremely inflated. We should collect quality and factual data and consistently report what is right. The problem with us is that we don't even do that.

http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d06116.pdf

Riaz Haq said...

Here's Hindu BusinessLine report on cloud computing apps in Pakistan:

Emerging markets such as Pakistan, Vietnam, the Philippines and Malaysia are adopting cloud-based applications at a faster rate than India, according to Doug Hughes, Vice-President, Product Management (JAPAC), Application Development, Oracle, the $35-billion US-based IT company.

In the last few years, India has moved to a dominant market from an emerging market. However, countries such as Pakistan and Malaysia are challenging India by deploying cloud rapidly. Starting with a low base, cloud-based application gives them the flexibility not to invest in hardware or software but to rent them on a monthly basis, he told Business Line.

However, adoption of cloud-based applications in India is faster than in China, he said without giving any data.

While small- and medium-size Indian companies are embracing cloud, there is hesitancy among large companies on security concerns. Bridging the gap between conventional cloud solutions and traditional company applications is emerging as a growing trend across segments, he said.

Managing consulting company Zinnov said cloud computing market in India is expected to reach $4.5 billion by 2015 with SMEs driving the growth.

The bigger the company, the bigger the decision making team. New customers are willing to consider cloud, but not the old ones. “We need to address too many questions raised by big companies especially on security. We need to find within big businesses a few champions who truly believe on cloud. For small business I do not need as they are the champions,” said Hughes. Oracle offers applications in a public, private or hybrid cloud, he said.

“With a large customer we start the discussion with the success in Australia. They will listen to it but say show me somebody who has done here. If it is not done here, it does not exist. I cannot say why clients here do not feel ready. The challenge is how to make them comfortable with cloud,” he said.

Companies need not deploy the entire suite of cloud-based solutions but pick up a HR or supply chain management application. Oracle is not going behind customers to change the entire spectrum of customer base from the very large company to the smallest – consider cloud as a solution, he said.


http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/industry-and-economy/info-tech/emerging-nations-adopt-cloud-apps-faster-says-oracle/article5375713.ece

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Daily Times report on biometric verification of SIM cards for cellular phones in Pakistan:

Zong has become the first mobile operator in Pakistan to implement Biometric Verification System (BVS) at their customer service centres. The installation of the Biometric Verification System displays the commitment of Zong towards Pakistan Telecommunication Authority’s (PTA) directives, highlighting its compliance and contributions to the national policies implementation.

SIM verification mechanisms were first introduced in Pakistan in 2007-2008. Initially, all the SIMs were verified by NADRA through an offline channel. In 2009, a new method was introduced where customers had to call 789 after inserting their SIM for the first time and verify their NADRA record to activate their SIM. From 2009 to 2012, a SMS-based SIM verification process was introduced in four different phases. However, none of these measures helped PTA overcome the problem of unregistered SIMs. Hence, PTA is now encouraging telecom operators to start offering biometric system to have a foolproof system to curtail unregistered SIMs.

The new verification system introduced by Zong will require each citizen to approach the retailer, franchisee or customer service centres of Zong and provide their fingerprints for authentication against CNIC data held with NADRA. Upon verification, the SIM will be activated. The entire operation will be performed online and it will take 15 seconds for the whole process to complete.

PTA Chairman Syed Ismail Shah commended Zong for being the first telecom operator to introduce Biometric SIM Verification System. He said, “PTA is dedicated to curbing sale of illegal SIMs in Pakistan for which it is working with all the industry stakeholders to ensure seamless implementation of Biometric SIM Verification System. We have defined a set of SOPs for the rollout of this technology through which sale of SIMs will be done in a more secure manner.” The first SIM activated at Zong’s customer care centre through the Biometric Verification System was given to PTA DG Enforcement Abdus Samad.

The system was demonstrated real-time to the leading journalists and the media community by Zong CPO Sikander Naqi. On the occasion he said: “Zong is fully committed for the enhancement and improvement of security protocols in the telecommunication industry. Therefore, we have exhibited our corporate responsibility by establishing the Biometric Verification System at our customer care centres. This technology will be gradually inducted across all franchises and customer care centres of Zong around the country.”

Since earlier this year, PTA and the government of Pakistan have emphasised the need to setup technological measures to ensure the protection of customer information and to curb the selling of illegal SIMS in the country. In the wake for boosting national security and addressing the ministries concern, Zong has become the torch-bearer in Pakistan’s telecom industry stepping up to the arduous task under the guidelines issued by PTA and with the support of NADRA.

Pakistan has a growing cellular market and the adoption of fingerprint matching technology by cellular operators shall reduce the risk of SIM issuance against fake identity to almost zero and safeguard the sale of illegal SIMs in the country.


http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2013%5C11%5C29%5Cstory_29-11-2013_pg5_9

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an ET story on SMS award for Election Commission of Pakistan:

The Election Commission of Pakistan has won its first ever international award today, as an international parliamentary organization acknowledged its services for promoting democracy during the elections.
The win was announced at the International Electoral Awards 2013 held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
The ECP was nominated for this award by the International Centre for Parliamentary Studies on its launching of services for millions of voters to verify their votes through the ‘8300 SMS Service’ prior to the May 2013 elections.
The ECP won the Accessibility Award, beating other finalists, the Republic of the Philippines Commission on Elections and the Independent Electoral Commission of South Africa.
“Khizer Aziz, Director General IT, today, received an award in Malaysia,” a senior ECP official told The Express Tribune.
The ECP also received applause from several other parliamentary organizations on its active role for conducting fair polls in Pakistan.
The winning system
In a bid to remove errors from electoral lists, the Election Commission of Pakistan had launched an SMS service to facilitate 85 million voters to verify their votes before the general elections this year.
The service had been launched in collaboration with the National Database and Registration Authority to help registered voters check the status of their votes and other particulars.
Registered voters could send their Computerised National Identity Cards (CNIC) number without hyphens via SMS to 8300 at anytime from anywhere in the country.
After sending the SMS, the voter would subsequently receive a message containing their name, village, city, tehsil or district, location (electoral area) and the serial number of vote registered in the preliminary electoral rolls. The system later also provided the address of their polling station.
Usage
More than 51.8 million citizens used the SMS service to verify their voting information ahead of the May 11 polls.
A whopping 29.2 million voters between the ages of 18 and 35-years-old used the service, according to details provided by NADRA. Over 10.4 million people belonged to the 36 to 46-year-old age bracket, 6.7 million from 46 to 56-years old, 4 million voters from the 56 to 66 age bracket and 1.5 million from the age of 66 and above.
Some 28.8 million voters hailed from urban areas and 23 million voters from rural areas.

Earlier, the ECP had been nominated for launching the “World’s Biggest Voters SMS Service” of over 83 million data density and for over 100 million mobile users in the country in ‘one go” by the Guinness World Records.


http://tribune.com.pk/story/641092/ecps-8300-sms-system-wins-international-award/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an AFP report on growth of computer games development in Pakistan:

LAHORE: It's a city better known for its history and culture, but a new generation of mobile game developers is bringing a slice of Silicon Valley to Pakistan's Lahore.

With open plan offices, mixed gender teams, gourmet catering and an emphasis on a fun atmosphere, the small but growing IT industry worth an estimated $2.8 billion is being led by young entrepreneurs like Babar Ahmed.

Ahmed, 33, left a career as a circuit engineer in Austin, Texas to found Mindstorm Studios in the eastern Pakistani city in 2006 with his brother Faraz.

Today their studio employs 47 people thanks to hits like 2010's “Whacksy Taxi”, which shot to number one on Apple's AppStore in over 25 countries; “Mafia Farm” in 2012 and “Cricket Power”, the official game of the 2011 World Cup.

“The idea was to put Pakistan on the gaming world,” said Ahmed, explaining he was tired of “drawing room talk” among expatriates in the US about how something should be done for their homeland.

Smartphone revolution

Mindstorm is one of several games development studios in Pakistan — mainly based in Lahore but also in the capital Islamabad and Karachi — to have prospered with the spread of the smartphone.

“After the iPhone was launched, the definition of what a game is changed overnight. The definition of what a gamer is changed overnight,” said Ahmed.

While traditional “hardcore” games — typically played on home console systems or PCs — need multi-million dollar budgets and teams of dozens of developers, games designed for smartphones need far less start-up capital.

That has allowed countries in eastern Europe, Pakistan, and the Philippines to become prime destinations for software outsourcing, said Jazib Zahir, chief operations officer at Tintash, another Lahore-based studio that provided the back-office for “Fishing Frenzy”, another top-ten hit.

According to the government, some 24,000 people are now employed in software exports — though the figure also includes more traditional areas like financial software and healthcare.

“One of the advantages that Pakistan brings is we do have a critical mass of people with training and aptitude, an interest in developing software and art and combining them,” adds Zahir, who is also a part-time tech journalist.

Breaking boundaries

At We R Play, an Islamabad-based studio based in a converted warehouse on the outskirts of the city, rows of twentysomethings busy themselves on their computers surrounded by colourful posters, plush toys and action figures.

The company was founded in 2010 by Mohsin Ali Afzal and Waqar Azim, with a major emphasis placed on a modern office space.

“We were sure from when we started that we didn't want cubicles and I wouldn't have a big office,” said Afzal, who returned from UC Berkeley in 2010.

“We wanted to make sure we're sitting with everyone. We encouraged everyone to take ownership of their spaces and gave them (money) to get stuff for their tables.”

Workspace and play is also seen as key at CaramelTech, a Lahore studio founded in 2011 by brothers Saad and Ammar Zaeem which is responsible for coding global 2011 mega-hit Fruit Ninja (which had over 500 million downloads) for an Australian studio.

The office has a designated play room complete with pool table, table football, and X-box.

“Every day at 4 pm they're forced to leave their work and go play upstairs.

We want that culture where people aren't only working but also enjoy themselves,” he said.

Also notable in the games studios is near gender-parity, a striking fact in a country where female participation in the workforce has lagged behind for decades.

People are dressed in everything from Western jeans and t-shirts to hijabs.

For some, convincing their family they are working in a “real job” wasn't easy....


http://www.dawn.com/news/1091602/gaming-industry-breaks-culture-barriers

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an APP story on the launch of Open Source Software Foundation in Pakistan:

To make Pakistan a hub of open source technologies in Asia by 2020, Open Source Foundation of Pakistan (OSFP) was launched by a team of dedicated professionals from academia, IT industry and services sector. Speaking at a ceremony here, Founder of OSFP Babar Zahoor said the founding principles of the foundation has been set as “using and developing the local human resources for introducing IT based solutions for local markets, home users and industry”. It is believed that both public and private sector organizations are using billions of rupees to use imported close-ended software programs and technologies.
Many of them have to develop their activities around the imported softwares to save further billions because customization costs are used as traps by these foreign firms to lynch local firms of their valuable resources, he added.
Hence local industries lose the competitive edge not only in production but even in cyber security and data pilferage.
He said the OSFP will provide a platform to the private and public sector organizations and universities, it can help them save billions of rupees.
Babar Zahoor believes, “both private and public sectors can save these monies for human resource development in the country by spending a fraction of the cost they are bearing now by importing not-so-customized software from the monopolized close-ended sources.”
Thinking globally to give local solutions in the field of user friendly and customized IT sector, OSFP held its first elections in Islamabad to elect a five member executive council and a four office bearers.
Newly elected Executive Council Members are Saleem M. Rafik (Director General Operations NADRA), Dr Syed Iqbal Ahmad PhD (Adviser Education Oxfam Novib Pakistan, Ex Chief Scientist Pakistan Agri Research Center), Ms Asma Qadeer, Assistant Professor Linguistics (Vice President Women Wing Baluchistan Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf), Tahir Mahmood Chaudhary (President Computer Society of Pakistan, CEO of Pakistan Institute of Entrepreneurs, CEO of Falcon Engineering and Sarfaraz M. Khan Chief Technology Officer Path Finder, Ex Vice President Vectra Com Pvt. Ltd.
According to by laws, Executive Council Members will arrange first meeting to elect Foundation’s Chair and Vice Chair soon.


http://www.app.com.pk/en_/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=271267&Itemid=2

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an Express Tribune report on E-Commerce in Pakistan:

Pakistan is one of the fastest emerging e-commerce markets in the region.
The level of trust global online groups are showing in the talents of the Pakistani youth and the e-commerce industry here suggests that, in the near future, it is likely to hold a significant share in Pakistan’s economy.
Kaymu.pk, a venture of Rocket Internet, a German based internet incubator operating in Pakistan, has built a reputation in the eyes of the decision makers of its parent company within just 15 months since it began operations.
The team, which is successfully operating kaymu.pk, has been given a task to launch the same portal in 26 other countries of Europe and the Asian region.
“The level of trust by the parent company shows huge potential and bright future for the e-commerce industry in Pakistan,” said Managing Director Asian Region Kaymu.pk Ahmed Khan in an interview with The Express Tribune.
“Pakistan e-commerce industry has just started its journey and the youth is driving this sector,” he added.
Kaymu.pk launched in Pakistan in January 2013 and is known as one of the best online platforms with 600 retailers offering their products to online shoppers. Khan believes that they still have a long journey and a big market to cover.
The portal is maturing some 1,000 transactions daily with an average turnover of Rs1.2 million per day. According to Khan, around 40% of the total transactions are of the apparel and jewelry segments. Due to suspicion and other issues with using plastic for payments, more than 99% of transactions are cash-based.
Khan said that the online transaction ratio will surge once the use of plastic money becomes common and the number of smartphone users also increase with the introduction of 3G and 4G services.
The exercise for online shopping via different portals for convenient shopping is increasing with each passing day. E-commerce is now spreading and is creating its share in the overall retail segment, with small, medium and large-scale retailers becoming eager to sell their products via such portals.


http://tribune.com.pk/story/694838/expansion-e-commerce-future-bright-in-pakistan/

http://www.kaymu.com/

http://www.rocket-internet.de/about-us

Riaz Haq said...

The story of history's first PC virus, The Brain, that originated in Pakistan as told by Mikko Hypponen on NPR Radio "So when you took a Brain-infected floppy and you looked at the very beginning of the floppy, at the boot sector area of the floppy disk, inside the code of the boot sector was the short text which said, Welcome to the Dungeon, 1986, Brain and Amjad. And then it has an address, an address in Pakistan - 730 Nizam Block Allama Iqbal Town, Lahore. Then it ends with the text, Beware of this virus. Contact us for vaccination." http://www.npr.org/templates/transcript/transcript.php?storyId=209176171

Riaz Haq said...

JAKARTA: The Pakistan Software Houses Association for IT & ITES (P@SHA) announced on Sunday that Team Pakistan won 2 Gold Awards and 3 Silver Awards at the Asia Pacific ICT Awards (APICTA) 2014 ceremony held in Jakarta, Indonesia.

The teams won Gold Awards in the Media & Entertainment Technologies and Tertiary Student Categories and Silver Awards in the Startup, Tourism & Hospitality and Tertiary Student Categories.

Leading the way with the Gold were the teams from Eyedeus Labs for their new product “Ingrain” and Syed Osama Maruf of NUST for his product “Smart Steth”.

The Silver Awards were taken by RemoteInterview.io in the Startup Category, EatOye in the Tourism & Hospitality Category and Fawad Ejaz Bhatti of NUST for TRex Tremor Reader in the Tertiary Student Category.

The Awards ceremony was attended by Indonesia's Communications and Information Technology Minister, Rudiantara.

This year’s P@SHA delegation comprised of 30 members with19 technology products competing for the prestigious Awards.

National teams from each economy are selected after a rigorous ICT Awards competition in 17 economies.

The best of the best then compete against each other at a three-day regional event judged by industry professionals, technology veterans and thought leaders from the Asia-Pacific region.

The Pakistani delegation was finalised after the announcement of winners at the P@SHA ICT Awards earlier in November.

International APICTA Judges from 17 economies who evaluated the categories, in which Pakistan participated, spoke about the consistently high standard of technology products presented by Pakistan year after year.

This year Team Pakistan benchmarked its products against 183 products from the region.


http://www.dawn.com/news/1147925/pakistan-picks-up-2-golds-and-3-silvers-in-technology-awards