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By Syed M. Aslam
Jul 10 - 16, 2000

UBITEC is a newly established institution aimed to provide Education and Training services in Business Management & IT, Software Development with special focus on e-services, Consultancy and Research & Development. The project is a collaborative effort individuals and institutions including Islamic Investment Bank Ltd., (Pakistan), Key Ventures Ltd., (UK), and Dr. Zafar Qureshi, an eminent educationist with vast experience of institutional development including Gomal University and LUMS.

UBITEC is housed in an exclusive four-storeyed building on main Shahrae Faisal, Karachi which has been refurbished to provide a conducive learning environment. The premises is equipped with computer labs comprising top-of-the-line hardware and peripherals and latest software, lecture rooms, library, seminar hall, executive training rooms, and software development rooms. The facility also has a cafeteria, executive dining room, bookshop and prayer room.

PAGE had the opportunity to talk to Mr. Muneeb Hassan who is the Chief Operating Officer of the Company. The following are the excerpts of the meeting.

PAGE: What is UBITEC going to offer?

Munees: UBITEC will offer certificate courses in the areas of e-Commerce, Internet & Web Technologies, Relational Database Management System, Networking, Graphics designing and animation, Information Systems Management and Planning, Object Oriented Programming and some introductory computer courses. The combination of these courses will offer a range of choices for beginners as well as for those who wish to upgrade their skills. UBITEC will also offer management training programs which will cover areas such as Human Computer Interaction, Entrepreneurship, Team Building, Selling Skills, Decision Making, etc. UBITEC would offer recognized Diploma and Degree certifications in due course of time.

UBITEC will offer complete business and technology solutions and customized software development to the local companies. We will also help in implementation of these solutions and provide technical support to improve their efficiency and productivity.

PAGE: There has been a mushroom growth of IT institutions throughout the urban centres in recent years. What made you start UBITEC?

Muneeb: Considering the great demand for IT professionals locally and even worldwide, there is still a great vacuum of such institutions in Pakistan. UBITEC has been established to be a role model in all of its operations and become a proactive participant in the socio-economic development of the country and the region.

PAGE: How is UBITEC different from other institutions?

Muneeb: Our first aim is to create IT awareness at grass-root levels. We believe that IT is not a complex technology and offers numerous job opportunities for everyone. Unless we treat IT as a catalyst that not only improves the productivity of the industry but also enhances the standards of living of everyone, we will not be able to reap the rewards of this booming industry and keep up with the rest of the world.

IT has now become a part of our daily life and should not only be concentrated to IT professionals and software developers. For this reason, we are developing courses that would break the myth of IT being regarded as a complex and stand-alone technology.

We will not only train and educate but will also help our outstanding students in finding jobs and offering venture capital to those who have entrepreneurial skills.

PAGE: What is your primary objective?

Muneeb: Our primary objective is to produce well-rounded professionals in the areas of Information Technology and Management Sciences that can enable Pakistan to take its share in the thriving e-commerce industry. We would like to be a major contributor in increasing the earnings of our nation through software exports.

PAGE: What would your fees be like?

Muneeb: UBITEC would offer highest quality training and education and state-of-the-art facilities at very competitive and affordable prices in order to achieve our aim of spreading IT awareness in Pakistan

PAGE: What do you think of the attention the present Government is giving to the IT industry? Would it benefit from documentation of the economy drive initiated by the Government?

Muneeb: Documentation of the economy will encourage the wider use of the plastic money which provides the base for e-commerce, i.e. business-to-consumer and business-to-business transactions over the Internet. I feel that the documentation of the economy is the first step towards the IT revolution. Various incentives given to the IT industry in the Budget 2000-2001 shows that the present Government understands the importance of IT and encourage further investments in this sector. The permission granted to the Software exporters to retain 25 per cent of their earnings foreign exchange and to use it for promotion, advertising, marketing and consultancy fee outside the Country will definitely boost exports. However, we have to see that all these measures are implemented in letter and spirit.

PAGE: What are the strengths of the Pakistani IT industry?

Muneeb: We have one of the best Telecommunication networks in the region that enables us the use of Internet resources to the fullest. However, further reduction in taxes on usage of telephone facilities is required to boost the use of Internet.

Irrespective of the hue and cry, we are not lagging behind our neighbours as far as the knowledge and talent is concerned. Rather than making outlandish comparisons with our neighbours regarding software exports and the developed countries regarding e-commerce, we need to concentrate on our current resources of technology and skilled manpower and plan accordingly to make the best use of these resources. We can only join the IT bandwagon if we have enough skilled IT professionals and a liberalized IT policy that encourages the use of e-commerce. Time has now come to join forces and move forward in a more synergistic manner to achieve success.