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Used computers to be imported

Government initiates IT development plans

By AMANULLAH BASHAR
Feb 19 - 25, 2001

The Ministry of Science and Technology has initiated various steps for the development of Information Technology at the grass root level in the country. This development plan includes import of used computers, assembly of local computers and a crash training programme for Java developers.

As a part of this programme, the government is actively considering importing around 30,000-40,000 used computers by this summer from the United States for educational institutions. These computers, mostly 486Mhz and Pentium-1, would be distributed through provincial governments. Their import would be in phases of 10,000 each and cost $50 (Rs3000) per computer. It is believed that the step is being taken in good faith by the government, however those responsible for this plan to import used computers should also keep in mind that these computers already outmoded may not deliver the goods. Being a poor nation, if at all we have to go for used computers at least they should be Pentium-3 instead of importing the Pentium-1 or 486 lest we spent a considerable amount on the import of the junk in the face of rapid development in the field of IT.

Assembling

Steps are also being taken for assembling of the computers at home for which foreign assemblers would be invited. According to official sources, these locally assembled computers would cost between Rs12000-15000 and $200 per computer. Earlier talks for assembling of computers with Greatwall, a Chinese company were dropped, as the company was demanding $500 per computer Pentium-1 that in locally currency comes to Rs 30,000. Instead of seeking the expertise of foreign assemblers we should rely on our own young IT engineers who have great potential to produce or assemble best quality computers at a much cheaper cost provided they were encouraged with financial assistance by the banking sector or other schemes like Khushhali Bank or Small Business Finance Corporation etc. The concept of micro leasing or micro financing can do magic in achieving this goal.

It is unfortunate that the government on its part introduces schemes for financial assistance to the educated unemployed yet the culture of bureaucratic chains deeply rooted in our society never allows harvesting a rich crop out of these schemes. An easy micro-lending scheme at massive scale throughout the country is the need of the hour for human resource development in this country.

The government is also framing a law through which the foreign companies' partnerships with the local entrepreneurs in IT, computer manufacturing units or software houses would be made a compulsory condition.

JAVA DEVELOPERS

The Ministry of Science and Technology has launched a programme to produce 1000 Java developers. An amount of Rs22 million is being allocated to be spent on the project which is to be completed within a period of 6 months.

The project aims to provide new development tools and information technology (IT) skills to youth that are at least graduates. It is envisaged that after training they will be employed in the software development companies.

Shortage of trained manpower in different skills in IT is one of the factors which Pakistan based IT companies are facing to grab a sizeable share of overseas projects.

The project aims creating a pool of trained Java programmers, which would help local companies to excel in the overseas market and get overseas software projects on the strength of trained personels.

According to programme, the eligible candidates would be placed in three categories for training purposes. In the first category, 100 professionals having worked in Java will be placed for two years. In the second category 300 programmers having an exposure to the languages other than Java will be placed. The trained Java professionals will conduct training of these programmers. In the 3rd category 600 young persons having Bachelors degree without any knowledge of computer but having an aptitude for the IT will be provided basic programming skills in Java.

Information Technology Division in collaboration with the Combat Institute of Information Technology (CIIT) will execute the project. It will supervise the implementation of the project on behalf of the IT and Telecom Division. The IT experts have worked out the course details, its contents and qualifications of trainees and duration of course. The CIIT will identify institutes, which will conduct training courses. At the completion of the training, the CIIT will conduct an examination and award certificates to successful candidates. Keeping in view the demands of the IT professionals, project has to be completed within the current financial year. It is expected that the training programme would be a great help getting jobs locally or abroad for the trained Java programmers.

The reasons being that all the IT projects are time specific and demand driven and the local companies are not in a position to honour commitments of the projects in time, mainly due to short supply of the trained manpower in the market.