The dream has come true as far as the use of information technology gadgets is concerned. People used to talk about free calls, which is more or less a reality since myriads of literate individuals use WhatsApp and Skype as per their convenience. The use of technology has brought convenience and accuracy with somewhat less cost. One cannot imagine comfort and convenience in life today without a laptop, tablet or a desktop computer and a smartphone. Demand of laptops in particular is sky-high among the students of colleges as well universities and the private and public sector organizations are also not behind in this regard since it has become the need to perform any job. Having a desktop computer was a luxury until late 90s in Pakistan, however, the advent of laptops and later on tablets has dissipated the interest of users in desktop computer which to some extent is being considered the product of yesterday.
Ubiquitous use of laptops and tablets has made it mandatory for the government to think of having a world class laptop assembling/manufacturing plant in Pakistan. It was in 2013 when the Higher Education Commission suggested to the Board of Investment to organize international investors’ conference for the establishment of laptop assembling/manufacturing plant.
A couple of years ago, an advertisement by the Punjab government stated that 310,000 laptops were provided at a cost of Rs20 billion for the Prime Minister’s Laptop Scheme. This is a whopping amount and calls for some desperate brainstorming to set up laptop assembling/manufacturing plant which could be a win-win situation for both the manufacturers as well as the buyers. Tech changes are rapid and beyond the imagination of the masses.
Taiwan’sAcer Inc and AsusTek Computer Inc introduced a new generation of laptop-tablet hybrid known as the Ultrabook in 2013 which millions of Pakistanis are not even acquainted with even today. Tech investors from Far East Asia would be ecstatic to invest in Pakistan since the market of 210 million with burgeoning youth population augurs well for the potential sale of the tech products.
According to a conservative estimate, over 400,000 laptops of different brands such as HP, Dell, Lenovo, IBM, Toshiba etc. are sold in Pakistan every year. The major buyers are corporate sector and university students. Moreover, a deluge of refurbished laptops make their way into the market and are sold instantly since the demand is substantial. One could buy a new as well as refurbished laptop for a paltry some of Rs15,000 to Rs40,000 and above depending on the quality and brand.
Pakistan’s IT exports are over $5 billion today compared to India’s IT market size of over $200 billion. An expert and IT professional split Pakistan’s IT exports in the categories such as software exports, IT freelancers and the hardware. Last year, the then Minister of State for Information Technology acknowledged that Pakistan’s IT industry had grown at a rate of 150 percent over the last five years. This indicates the potential of the IT sector to achieve milestones with every passing year.
Every successive government has struggled to promote the IT sector of Pakistan for the betterment of the economy and to catch up with the global trend which is in the state of flux. In 2006, the then government launched a soft loan program for its five million serving and retired employees to make them computer-literate. This multi-billion ‘Pak-PC’ program was initiated to provide affordable, high-quality desktop PCs and notebooks to the government employees. Moreover, laptops have been awarded to the students in various cities of Pakistan by various political parties from time to time to motivate students to keep abreast of technological developments. Many youths now prefer handy tablets and cell phones to laptops.
In almost every developed country across the globe, people have become great IT freaks. A laptop, for instance, is used for a year or two and then abandoned. These abandoned laptops make their way to plenty of developing countries and Pakistan is one of them. Pakistan could be called of the leading markets for the refurbished laptops since tens of thousands of laptops are imported every year to meet the burgeoning demand.