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


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)."

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?

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

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:

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:

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...


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...

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 ..

Anonymous 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

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.

Anonymous said...

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


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:

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.

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.


• 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...

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.

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...

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.

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...

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 , 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'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'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...

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

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's an excerpt from a 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...

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 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.

Lucky Farnon said...

*You made some decent points there. I looked on the internet for the issue and found most individuals will go along with with your website.

software house in pakistan

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.

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.

Riaz Haq said...

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.


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. mobile apps triumph

Local app developers, 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.

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.

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,, 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.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's 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.

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.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a report about growth of B2B transactions led by 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.

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 – 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 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.”, 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 – – went bust when the dotcom bubble burst in 2001). 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......

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.”

Hopewins 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.

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. ..

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.\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.

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”.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's ET on launch in Pakistan:

KARACHI: With a self-employment boom and double-digit growth in internet subscriptions, Pakistan has become the third highest user of, 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 [], 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 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,” 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.

Riaz Haq said...

Top four online outsourcing sites,,, and 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.

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,, 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 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 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.

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.

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....

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."

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 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.

Riaz Haq said...

Mariam Adil, a young entrepreneur, is making waves in the Pakistani gaming industry.

According to recent data, Pakistan's software industry employs more than 24,000 people, including many startups like Mindstorm Studios by Ahmed, We R Play by Mohsin Ali Afzal and Waqar Azim, and the now famous Caramel Tech Studios in Lahore. Pakistan's developers have achieved new renown thanks to games like “Whacksy Taxi”, which has become one of the most downloaded App Store games in 25 different countries, and other projects like “Stick Cricket”. Firms hold regular “game jams” in Lahore to attract innovators with competitions between young would-be game developers. Jobs at these companies are highly coveted by young people: the workday ends around 4pm, and employees often hang out together afterwards, literally playing games!

Mariam Adil is one of the dynamic women leading this new era of entrepreneurialism in Pakistan, perhaps the country's best-kept secret. While most of the world probably thinks of all Pakistani women as oppressed and chained down by society, there are dozens of bright women entrepreneurs managing incubators and programs in Pakistan today.

Adil is the founder of the Gaming Revolution for International Development (“GRID”), a game development startup that designs low-cost video games to simulate common issues in development fieldwork and teach development skills. Its game “Randomania” serves up scenarios that any development-sector professional can relate to and encourages policy decisions, showing the results of those decisions. Stereowiped, on the other hand, is a boundary-breaker when it comes to race and barriers of prejudice and is a great example of what social impact games can achieve.

Faisal Kapadia recently spoke to Adil about her work and much more.

Faisal Kapadia (FK): Why did you think of forming a company like the grid to solve issues when there is plenty of opportunity available for game developers commercially?

Mariam Adil (MA): Born out of pure inspiration, GRID hits at a niche market and gives me the flexibility to think creatively about pushing the boundaries of technology innovations for creating development solutions. It was less driven by a need to earn money and more by my passion for the idea.
FK: While developing Randomania did you do a lot of research on different situations faced by professionals in the development sector?

MA: My day job at the World Bank allows me to have my hand on the pulse. Having designed and implemented several Impact Evaluations, I am familiar with the challenges that practitioners face while designing randomized control trials. This perspective, put together with feedback from some very supportive colleagues at the World Bank allowed us to make sure Randomania could do justice to the challenges of rigorously evaluating development projects.
FK: What kind of impact do you think a game like Randomania can have? Does it lead to as a test case more cohesive thought or efficiency?

MA: In my opinion, there is a gap between the science of International Development taught to students and development practitioners, and the art of development practiced by professionals in the field. Until now, there have been few tools to bridge that gap – to provide the experiential learning required to practice complex decision-making, at a scale well beyond one to one interaction.

Games like Randomania offer a safe environment to simulate the effects of policies and understand the trade-offs involved in the decision-making process. With a push towards innovative use of technology in international development, and the effectiveness of games as learning tools, the stage is set for development games to be introduced as learning tools for development practitioners and students.

Riaz Haq said...

The Axact Scandal and Pakistan’s Growing Tech Sector

Axact has posted a response on its Web site that accuses the Times of defamation and promises “strict legal action.” Others will undoubtedly push back as well. The author of the Times story, Declan Walsh, was the paper’s Islamabad correspondent before he was expelled from Pakistan in 2013 for reasons that remain unclear. Some conspiracy-minded Pakistanis believe the article is a fabrication meant to malign their country.

Still, many Pakistanis have long suspected that Axact was involved in unsavory activities. When Axact was accused of improprieties in the past, the company’s response on at least one occasion was a precursor to how it has replied to the Times: The company filed a defamation suit.

One big unknown is the potential impact on Pakistan’s information technology sector. India may be more widely recognized for its IT successes, but Pakistan has enjoyed its fair share of achievements. In recent years, Technology Review recognized an IT expert at Lahore University of Management Sciences as one of the world’s top young innovators, and several Pakistani software applications earned international awards. Although Pakistan is a relatively small player in global IT, its ranks are growing, with about 1,500 registered firms and 10,000 IT grads entering the market annually.

In spite of all the challenges, including the energy crisis, political instability and lack of promotion, the IT industry has shown great character and grit in winning global recognition. There have been many success stories in the various IT domains, such as finance, healthcare, telecom and mobile applications. As per Pakistan Software Export Board (PSEB), Pakistan’s share of global IT sales is $2.8 billion, out of which $1.6 billion accounts for the country’s exports of software and IT enabled services. There are 1,500 registered IT firms in the country and over 10,000 IT graduates enter the market every year. Pakistan has mainly focused on higher end software products and solutions, whereas India and Philippines have grown in more basic IT enabled services, such as software and services outsourcing.

Anonymous said...

You dismiss India's 2nd and 3rd tier engineering schools. But you are off the mark. I am a graduate of one of India's IITs, an academic researcher in the US for many years. I have known Indian students from 1st tier schools other than IITs (e.g., IISc, engineering schools from Delhi and Mumbai Universities, etc.) and students from 2nd tier schools like the NITs. The students from 2nd tier schools are outstanding scholastically, and they make outstanding researchers.

The CEO of Microsoft, Satya Nadella is from a 2nd tier engineering school in India. He is smarter and sharper than most people from IIT or IISc.

Mr. Riaz, you really need to know more about Indian techies. I will agree with you about the 3rd and 4th tier schools. They are not too great, but then, neither are the students from America's 3rd and 4th tier schools (who I have taught in the past). What you do not understand is that India makes up for it in sheer numbers. There are a lot of very smart and bright engineers coming out of India. I wouldn't knock them if I were you.

Anonymous said...

Riaz sahab...salaam walikum...

I read your article as I was trying to find the position of Pakistan in the International IT Industry. I found the whole conversation between you and the anonymous Indian IT professional. The information both of you provided was quite exciting, intriguing and compelled me to write a comment on your post.

I am an Indian and as such I don't hold any grudge against our Pakistani brothers. After reading your article I have only one query... Why did you make a comparison with Indian IT industry and tried to show that it is inferior? We don't compare the Indian IT industry with the Pakistani IT Industry and show them inferior. It is true that there is poverty in India, but we are working hard to bring down the numbers of below poverty line people. Can you deny the fact that Pakistan suffers from the same problem?

Riaz sahab, Pakistan has much deeper problems to look into rather than to compare everything with India. Please look into the bigger picture and try to fit your Industries in accordance to the International standards.

Please accept the fact that be it 2-3 years of diploma or grads or 4 years bachelor grads, whoever be it, the Indian IT industry is nearly astronomical in comparison to the Pakistan counterparts. By saying this I don't mean to humiliate or demean the Pakistan IT Industry's potential.

Apart from all these debates I would like to say another thing... I have seen glimpses of Pakistan in internet and since a very young age I wish to visit Pakistan someday as what I got from those glimpses is that, Pakistan is a very beautiful place. I love travelling and I wish if I could have kept Pakistan in my travel list!

Wish you and your countrymen a healthy and safe life!
With love from India!


Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan IT industry climbing up to no 3 to grab world attention with its freelancers …

Pakistan’s tiny IT sector is carving out a niche for itself -- so much so that it has been the subject of several stories in international publications such as the New York Times, the Global Post, Al Jazeera, to name a few. Perhaps the interest is because of the obvious potential of the industry: There are now 1,500 registered IT companies in Pakistan, and 10,000 IT grads enter the market every year.

Perhaps even more significantly, the democratisation of demand as facilitated by the internet-era, has enabled Pakistan to climb up market ranks to become the No. 3 country for supplying freelance programmers, behind only the United States and India, and up from No. 5 just two years ago. This is because programmers in Pakistan can easily sign up to platforms such as Upwork or Fiverr, where the person hiring them is less interested in their location and more concerned with their skill. Because the programmer in Pakistan is using a third party platform, logistical, bureaucratic and other constraints that are typically associated with Pakistan, including corruption, do not apply.

As reported by The New York Times, Pakistan ranks in the upper 10 to 25 percent on Upwork’s listing of growth rates for top-earning countries, alongside India, Canada and Ukraine. Pakistan’s freelance programmers already account for $850 million of the country’s software exports; that number could go up to $1 billion in the next several months, says Umar Saif, who heads the Punjab IT Board and previously taught and did research work at M.I.T.

As reported by the Global Post, Pakistan’s software export industry employs some 24,000 people, according to government figures. Most companies in Pakistan’s IT sector — including mobile game studios — are growing at more than 30 percent a year, says Pakistan’s software industry trade body, P@SHA.

With success come challenges, and Pakistan’s nascent IT industry faced its first such challenge last May, when news broke that Axact, one of Pakistan’s largest IT companies, was operating as a fake degree mill. Authorities acted fast, arrested Axact’s chief within days, though the controversy did lead many to comment on whether the country’s IT industry stood a chance in the long-term.

That question was answered almost immediately, when just three days after the Axact controversy, Naseeb Networks International, a Lahore-based company that runs the online job marketplace, announced that it had won a third round of investments worth $6.5 million, from the European investment firms Vostok Nafta and Piton Capital. The latest round of funding brought the company’s total venture capital funding to $8.5 million.

Or take the example of Caramel Tech Studios, a Pakistan-based mobile game startup that created the sensation “Fruit Ninja” for an Australian developer. Another such startup in Pakistan is Mindstorm Studios, maker of “Whacksy Taxi,” a racing game that topped Apple’s App Store in more than 25 countries.

And while constraints such as bureaucracy, shortage of land/space for offices, power shortages, et cetera remain a challenge, they are offset by positives, most importantly cost. “If we have a million dollars in the bank ... in the US we might only be able to make one and a half games, whereas here we might be able to make 10 games,” Saad Zaeem of Caramel Tech Studios told The Global Post, adding that graduates here are as qualified as Western ones and cost a lot less to employ, giving software startups a competitive advantage over high-wage Western countries.

Further, the rise of the mobile software market has been a huge gamechanger. “Prior to the iPhone …

Riaz Haq said...

t’s No #SiliconValley, but #Pakistan is Building Its Own Startup Scene. #Technology …

In the past five years, Pakistan’s startup ecosystem has grown from a nascent colony to a self-sustaining environment. Zameen, an online real estate startup based in Lahore, has ridden that startup wave in developing a Zillow-like app and website that allows users to search and buy real estate listings in Pakistan’s largest cities.

Like many famous U.S. internet companies, Zameen started with a gamble. In 2006, Zeeshan Ali Khan and his brother left their e-commerce business in the United Kingdom to move to Pakistan and started Zameen in their bedrooms. Back then, online-only services in Pakistan were rare, but Ali Khan followed the money coming into Pakistani real estate from expats living abroad—a million of whom lived in the United Kingdom. Now Zameen employees 500 people and has offices in nearly all major cities in Pakistan.

“ came into being when we realised there was a desperate need for a trustworthy online real estate enterprise in Pakistan, especially given the importance the average Pakistani attaches to property,” Ali Khan tells Newsweek in an email. “Back then the state of internet infrastructure in Pakistan was extremely poor but the offline property market was exploding. Facilitated by large investments from the Pakistani diaspora, people found that investing in real estate would earn them significant returns.”

Pakistan’s fast-growing economy and, perhaps more importantly, large English-speaking population has provided a backbone to encourage startups to form and work with foreign companies.

The country has seen startup hubs form around elite universities in cities like Lahore and Karachi—similar to Boston and San Francisco—in the last few years. The Punjab province, where Lahore is located, has been the major hotspot for startups in Pakistan. Plan9, the Punjab provincial government-run technology incubator, hosts over 80 startups. Ali Khan believes there are 140 startups in Lahore, a city of 5 million people.

But Pakistani startups are still minnows compared to those in Silicon Valley. Cultural and economic norms, like being predominantly reliant on cash for transactions, are big obstacles for startups. Despite leading the South Asian region in consumers using mobile payments, only 9 percent of Pakistani men and 2 percent of women have used mobile phones for money transfers. Around 39 percent of Americans have used mobile banking in 2015, according to a report from the Federal Reserve.

To accommodate its cash-based users, Zameen employs motorcycle riders to collect payments from Zameen agents across 30 Pakistani cities in person. “The situation is improving, and a lot of people are beginning to feel more comfortable with online payments and even mobile transactions,” says Ali Khan.

Earning public trust for a little-known startup—a concept now just becoming understood in Pakistan—was a big challenge as well. When Zameen began, it discovered most of the Pakistani property market undocumented, and reliable data was nearly non-existent.

Pakistani consumers, including Ali Khan’s family, had a hard time becoming comfortable with Zameen and its Silicon Valley-inspired ideas. “My family was a little apprehensive when I told them I wanted to start a business of my own,” Ali Khan says. “Today however, the attitudes have greatly changed, thanks to the startup ecosystem that is supporting the startup culture in Pakistan.”

The two biggest hurdles Zameen and fellow startups face are the low penetration rates of 3G/4G mobile Internet and the lack of support from its government. In 2015, only 22 million out of 182 million Pakistanis had 3G/4G technology, leaving little room for startups to continue growing and scale upwards with their online services.

Infrastructural issues like 3G/4G technology need the government’s help, but such support has been lacking, according to Ali Khan.

Riaz Haq said...

#Korea to establish biggest advanced #IT Park in #Pakistan to promote SMEs: South Korean envoy via @ePakistanToday

Ambassador of South Korea Dr Song Jong-Hwan said that Korea would establish one of the biggest and most advanced IT Parks in Islamabad at an area of about 1 million square feet to promote small and medium enterprises (SMEs) as the facility would provide SMEs and start-ups in IT industry with office spaces equipped with advanced IT infrastructure and security facilities.
During an interaction with business community at Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry, he said the IT Park would be set up in collaboration with the Ministry of IT of Pakistan and it would provide the most advanced business facilities to IT companies in Pakistan. He was accompanied by Embassy of South Korea Commercial Counsellor Park Bongsu and Economic Officer Jo Eunsang.
The Korean Ambassador said that bilateral trade between Pakistan and Korea had declined by almost 34 per cent during the last three years which should be a cause of serious concern for both sides. He termed non-availability of trade related information and lack of understanding about promising areas of cooperation as major reasons of low trade volume. However, he said that Pakistan and Korea have started the process of free trade agreement feasibility study which would be completed by the end of June this year and added that both sides were expecting big jump in bilateral trade once the FTA was signed.
He said Korea was cooperating with Pakistan in the energy sector and added that Korean Importers Association (KOIMA) was looking for partners to import thousands of tonnes of good quality copper ore per month from Pakistan. He said that tremendous untapped possibilities of mutual cooperation existed between Pakistan and Korea and assured that his Embassy would provide all possible cooperation to exploit such opportunities.
In his welcome address, Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Atif Ikram Sheikh said that Korea had placed some stringent Sanitary and Phyto Sanitary (SPS) measures due to which many Pakistani agricultural products were facing difficulties in getting better access to the Korean market and stressed that such measures should be revised.
He said that being an advanced economy, Korea should help Pakistan in modernising its economy through technology transfer, knowledge sharing, capacity building, enhanced trade, investment and joint ventures. He said China-Pakistan Economic Corridor would create plenty of opportunities for investment and joint ventures in Pakistan and that time was ripe for Korean investors to take more interest in Pakistan for investment. He said that both countries should encourage frequent exchange of trade delegations and organize single country exhibitions on reciprocal basis in order to explore new avenues of mutual cooperation. He said ICCI would work closely with the Korean Embassy to improve bilateral and economic relations between the two countries.

Riaz Haq said...

#India is pissed about the #US now charging more money for #H1B temp worker visas: … via @vicenews

The annual gold rush in Silicon Valley to fill out applications for guest worker visas began Friday, as the federal government began distributing some of the 85,000 H1B visas it is authorized to issue this year.

But the dash to grab visas is set against the backdrop of a political debate both within the United States and abroad about the regulations surrounding H1B visas, the government designation for visas designed for highly-skilled employees in "specialty occupations."

Just weeks ago, India filed a complaint with the World Trade Organization over an increase in fees on H1B visasthat the US imposed on companies with workforces comprised of more than 50 percent foreign workers. A provision included in last year's federal spending bill tacked on a new $4,000 fee the H1B visas, which India argues is discriminatory to the country under its trade agreement with the US.

India's complaint comes as Congress has been mulling other reforms to the H1B program to address allegations that companies are using the visas to hire cheaper foreign workers to replace American workers. The Senate Judiciary Committee held hearings earlier this year in which senators, including Ted Cruz and chairman Jeff Sessions, probed experts on whether US tech firms really needed more H1B visas to fill open positions, as they claim, and what protections might be put in place to ensure that American workers are being given preference for positions over foreign workers.

Related: The Los Angeles Unified School District Has Banned Immigration Raids on Its Campuses

"The intent of the program is to fill skills gaps in the US when American workers aren't available, but the reality is that the program has become a way for firms to create a business model that's about bringing workers who are cheaper into the US and to either substitute or directly replace Americans," said Ron Hira, a political science professor at Howard University, who testified at the hearing on February 25.

Hira said that foreign workers make anywhere from 20 percent to 40 percent less than their American counterparts within the program.

Two recent lawsuits accused companies, including Disney, HCL, and Cognizant, of firing Americans in order to hire H1B workers for less money. Leo Perrera, a former Disney employee who brought one of the suits, testified at the Judiciary hearing in February that "20 years of hard work, a bachelor's degree in information technology and an IT job for Disney were all over when my team along with hundreds of others were displaced by a less-skilled foreign workforce imported into our country using the H1B visa program."

The debate over whether the H1B program is hurting American workers rose to public consciousness amid the Republican primary debates earlier this year. Donald Trump said in one debate he supported expanding the H1B visas in one instance, but later said the system was "rampant with abuse." Ted Cruz has introduced a bill in the Senate that proposes some reforms to the programs, including minimum salary requirements for foreign workers, while Bernie Sanders has called for changes to the program. Hillary Clinton has, in the past, called for an expansion of the H1B program.

Cruz's bill is one of three bills proposing reforms to the H1B program currently in Congress. A bill proposed by Senator Chuck Grassley and Senator Dick Durbin would put in place a requirement that companies first seek American workers to fill open roles before applying to have them filled with foreign workers and would limit how many H1B workers a company could hire, while a proposal by Sessions and Senator Bill Nelson seeks to cut the number of H1B visas allocated each year.

krishna said...

The total undergraduate colleges in India are 3289 and and 4 year degree cource BE or B-TECH in these colleges ha 1553000 seats.

Riaz Haq said...

IT Industry has contributed 98% to Pakistan’s economy by foreign exchange earnings, Anusha Rehman

Minister of State for Information Technology and Telecom Anusha Rehman on Monday lead the 36th meeting of the Boards of Directors of Pakistan Software Export Board (PSEB) to assess the work being done on various IT initiatives taken by PSEB including Prime Minister’s Internship Programme and Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI).

PSEB Acting Managing Director Syed Iftikhar Hussain Shah updated the board with achievemts of PSB over the last four years. The board was briefed that PSEB has showcased their work at 11 international trade fairs alongside over 65 IT companies, which are making above two thousand leads. This exhibition enhanced the perception of Pakistan as an important destination in terms of outsourcing and investment. According to him, exhibiting at the trade fairs also helped improve the image of Pakistan as a viable destination for outsourcing and investment, because PSEB’s participation in the exhibitions have increased Pakistan’s exports in all the countries that hosted the exhibitions.

According to him, because of the active PSEB technical and financial assistance throughout the past four years, over 30 selected IT professionals and 28 IT companies have been given certificates in Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMi) platform. Apart from this, 134 companies have gotten certifications in ISO 9001, ISO27001 and ISO 20001 as PSEB empowered them to acquire exports from the developed markets.

The minister agreed and added that the great work done by Pakistan’s IT sector is evident from the fact that IT Industry exports have contributed 98% to Pakistan’s economy by foreign exchange earnings and job creation through growth in the past 4 years. She also said, “Due recognition must be extended to our freelancers who have catapulted Pakistan on the 4th spot on the largest freelancing website in the world.”

Anusha felt pride in the fact that Pakistan has a huge number of extremely talented youth, and the government is striving to provide them with the best resources and opportunities.

Anusha said that PSEB in partnership with National ICT R&D Fund (IGNITE) has recruited over 1,700 IT graduates as interns this year for having hands on experience with IT companies, as well as IT departments at Telcos/CMOs, banks, and also educational institutes. Among these interns, more than 60 percent received job offers after the completion of their training tenure.

According to her, the government is going to announce a national level digital skills training program to empower 1 million freelancers of the country who have an experience of over 5 years with the skills that are needed to increase their productivity.

Later, the minister also lead one more meeting and gave her approval for “DigiSkills”— an initiative to mentor 1 million youth with a focus to use technology in the best way by bringing excellence in technology, introducing innovation and respecting work ethics, alongside the vision of building a workforce for a future of the 4th Industrial Revolution.

She commented, “Our educational institutes are producing huge number of graduates every year. More than 20,000 IT graduates and engineers are being produced annually and it’s time that we prepare our workforce for new technologies in line with fast growing trends of freelancing and entrepreneurship.”

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan graduates about 22,000 #computer-#science majors each year. Significant numbers of these graduates can be groomed into a small army of highly-skilled professionals to develop #AI products and earn billions of dollars in #tech #exports.

By Dr. Ata ur Rahman

The advantage of investing in areas such as artificial intelligence is that no major investments are needed in terms of infrastructure or heavy machinery and the results can become visible within a few years. There is now a huge international demand for well-trained professionals in this field. Most advanced countries are searching for young trained professionals so that they can benefit from development taking place across the globe. Visa restrictions have been relaxed for these professionals. Artificial intelligence will find applications in almost every sphere of activity, ranging from industrial automation to defence, from surgical robots to stock-market assessment, and from driverless cars to agricultural sensors controlling fertilisers and pesticide inputs.

Pakistan churns out about 22,000 computer-science graduates each year. With additional high-quality training, a significant portion of these graduates could be transformed into a small army of highly-skilled professionals who could develop a range of AI products and earn billions of dollars in exports.

Another important step in developing a knowledge economy is to uplift our technical and vocational training centres while being mindful of the needs of industrial hubs that are to be set up under CPEC. There are over a thousand such centres, but they are in a bad state. If some of these centres are converted into high-quality technical training institutes for teachers in collaboration with Germany, China or other advanced countries, well-trained teachers can then be absorbed in the thousand or so technical training centres. This could contribute to industrial development. The Fourth Industrial Revolution is upon us with all of its challenges. We live in a world where truth has become far stranger than fiction. Each day brings thousands of new discoveries. Many of these discoveries are transforming our lives in numerous ways. The blind can now see using their tongue. Molecular scissors have been developed that allow genes to be cut from one species and transferred to another, resulting in new plant and animal species. Genes have been transferred from deep-sea jelly fishes to orchids to make flowers that glow in the dark.

Nanotechnology is being employed to commercially purify water. Superfast gene-sequencing will allow the entire human genome to be sequenced in minutes. Objects can now be moved by thought control and driverless cars are being developed. We now have anti-ageing compounds that have been known to reduce the signs of ageing among mice. Children being born today are expected to live up to the age of 120 or more.

3D-printing is being used to produce parts of human livers and kidneys. Stem cells promise to cure damaged organs and may change the manner in which medicine will be practised in the future. Our own work on the molecular basis of thought processes has provided exciting insights into the functioning of the human brain – arguably the most complex object in our universe, with 100 billion neurons in a brain, each neuron communicating with some 10,000 other neurons. This work has led to new approaches to treat Parkinson’s disease. A knowledge economy requires a different approach to socioeconomic development than that adopted by Pakistan so far. It needs to rely on carefully crafted policies and the development of knowledge and skills in selected fields for inclusive sustainable socioeconomic development.

The formation of a taskforce to strengthen knowledge economy represents one of the most important developments in the history of Pakistan. The PMmust be congratulated for focusing on this critical area. The challenge now lies in the efficient implementation of the taskforce’s recommendations.

bilzxx said...

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.