INTERVIEW WITH MR ASIF MUHAMMAD IQBAL BEGA, CHAIRMAN SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON ICT & DATA CONTROL KCCI AND CEO LUCKY HI TECH

KHALIL AHMED
(feedback@pgeconomist.com)

July 23 - 29, 20
12

PAGE: TELL ME SOMETHING ABOUT YOURSELF, PLEASE?

ASIF BEGA: My name is Asif Muhammad Iqbal Bega. I am CEO Lucky Hi Tech, Chairman Special Committee on Information & Communication Technology (ICT & Data Control), Karachi Chamber of Commerce & Industry and Member Advisory Committee on IT Ministry Of Information Technology, Govt. Of Sindh. I completed my Graduation in Commerce and have vast experience in the field of Information Technology.

PAGE: YOUR VIEWS ON ROLE OF KCCI FOR PROMOTING IT?

ASIF BEGA: Karachi Chamber of Commerce & Industry has currently around 17,000 registered members both industrialists and traders. KCCI has also been given due representation on every important Advisory Board of the Government where Chamber nominates senior and prominent businessmen/ industrialists with extensive experience and deep insight in specific fields. While the Chamber's association with various Advisory Bodies keeps it posted with feedback on various government policies and measurers. The Chamber also utilizes these forums to influence the policies and perception of the Government through personal discussion as well as through submission of representations/memoranda and studies. Every year comprehensive memoranda, giving consideration, recommendations and policy-proposals are submitted to the Federal Government well in advance of the announcement of the Federal Budget and Trade Policy. KCCI has formed, Karachi-Bombay Joint Chamber of Commerce & Industry. The prime objective of Karachi-Bombay Joint Chamber is to enhance Indo-Pak bilateral trade. Increase in trade and economic engagements are vital to the mutual quest for national development and contribute to building trust between two countries.

KCCI is keen to promote ICT in different sectors to help the growth of the economy of Pakistan. Especially, ICT applications in SMEs can play a very important role because it can help SMEs both in creating business opportunities and combating pressures from competition. Appropriate ICT applications can help SMEs cut costs by improving their internal processes, improving their product through faster communication with their customers, and better promoting and distributing their products through online presence. I am confident that the Karachi Chamber of Commerce & Industry and (BMG) Businessmen Group of KCCI will contribute towards a lot for the up-gradation of ICT.

PAGE: YOUR VIEWS ON USE OF INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY IN PAKISTAN:

ASIF BEGA: Information technology in Pakistan is a growing and rising industry that has a large potential. I believe that the Information Technology (IT) industry in Pakistan needs to be evaluated critically. The local industry, if given an opportunity, can grow exponentially. The IT industry is regarded as a successful sector of Pakistan economically, even in financial crisis.

PAGE: HOW WOULD YOU COMMENT ON EXPORT OF IT PRODUCTS?

ASIF BEGA: In my point of view, to boost up export of Information Technology products, we have to organize seminars/conferences and joint ventures with different countries like Afghanistan, Iran, India, Middle East and Europe Union. To promote the ICT applications may be exchanged among the countries. Help and promote each other in developing more refined ICT applications on continuous basis. To identify area which needs to be more focus and required more attention. Sharing of Ideas & Transfer of technology may be made. Export of software applications and IT Services to other countries. Use of ICT (Information & Communication Technology) for improving Academia of Pakistan. Identify areas in ICT joint ventures.

Research in following priority areas:

Textile
Chemicals
Power Generation
Pharmaceuticals
Health
Education
Intellectual Property Rights (IPR)

PAGE: COULD YOU COMMENT ON USE OF IT BY CORPORATE SECTOR IN PAKISTAN?

ASIF BEGA: The economy of Pakistan is completely dependent on the agricultural sector which is the main income- and employment-generating sector in GDP. For a country like Pakistan the role of Information Technology to develop agricultural research, education and extension to improve quality of life in rural area is well established. IT can help an average farmer to get relevant information regarding agro-inputs, crop production technologies, agro processing, market support, agro-finance and management of farm agri-business. The agricultural extension mechanism is becoming dependent on IT to provide appropriate and location specific technologies for the farmers to polish timely and proficient advice to the farmers. IT can be a best mean not only to develop agricultural extension but also to expand agriculture research and education system. Businesses of all types can use ICT to good effect whether it is a large or small organization in different areas of their work. ICT have the capacity to make a business more efficient, more cost-effective and responsive to the needs of its customers.

PAGE: YOUR VIEWS ON FUTURE OF IT IN PAKISTAN:

ASIF BEGA: During the last decade, Information and Communication Technology (ICT) radically transformed the world, enabled modernization and productivity increased by connecting people and communities, and improving standards of living and opportunities across the globe. While changing the way individuals live, interact, and work, ICT has also proven to be a key precondition for superior competitiveness and economic and societal modernization, as well as an important instrument for bridging economic and social divides and reducing poverty. In Pakistan although we have achieved some tangible progress in the areas of moderate density Internet growth, computer usage and use of mobile phones etc but still we have remained far behind the International standards in understanding and implementing ICTs for development specially in Banking, Health & Education, SMEs, Academia, R&D and National Integration. Many countries prefer contract out manpower within Pakistan because they find Pakistani IT persons intelligent, hardworking and committed. They provide their services at low price which enables us to bring in good investment opportunities in our country. This scenario is also helpful making more job opportunities available in the country. Pakistan has lot of potentials and we can still BOUNCE BACK if we make a road map of development based on use of ICTs for all in areas of Banking, Health & Education, SMEs, Academia, R&D and Good Governance.

PAGE: HOW WOULD YOU COMMENT ON IT SECTOR OF PAKISTAN IN COMPARISON WITH NEIGHBORING COUNTRIES?

ASIF BEGA: We can consider the role model of countries like India and Bangladesh where a lot of Foreign Investments has come. One of the major fascinations to bring in Foreign Investment is to control Law and Order situation in the country. Pakistan is the hot new offshore information technology (IT) destination because of a combination of favorable economic circumstances. Pakistan welcomes them and serves as a place of safety and security. Increased trade and joint projects between Pakistan and India will pull those two countries together and create motivation for peace.