Dec 31, 2007 - Jan 06, 2008

Pakistan IT market, which has crossed the figure of US$ 2 billion, has kept a steady pace with the rest of the world. The rapid growth in IT sector is largely because of foreign IT firms that started their operations in Pakistan in a bid to reduce costs and raise profits.

Intel Corporation, the world leader in silicon innovation and the inventor of the x86 series of microprocessors, has successfully completed a decade of enhanced computing in Pakistan. The company has played an important role in strengthening the country's IT market.

The year 2007 marks the 10th anniversary of Intel in Pakistan. Intel is the world's largest semiconductor company, which has played a critical role in spearheading growth of the IT sector in Pakistan by creating widespread IT awareness, providing access to the latest technology and strengthening the local market through extensive education programs. Intel has also been actively bridging the digital divide in the country by introducing programs like Intel's World Ahead, which is the company's comprehensive approach to bring uncompromised technology to everyone, anywhere in the world. In 2005, the company earmarked over 20,000 of PCs to be sold at 30 percent lower price in Pakistan.

Strategically located, Pakistan is likely to become future hub of Information Technology business as world's prominent enterprises are eyeing it as the next market of opportunity.

The country has emerged as an internationally recognized leading IT destination. Some of the areas in which the Pakistani government has provided benefits to the IT companies include tax exemption till 2016, seven years' tax holiday for venture capital funds, provision of funds for software companies to get ISO-9000 and CMM-level certifications, 100% ownership of equity for foreign investors and development of IT parks with low rent, fiber optic connectivity, libraries and conference rooms.

Intel has already co-operated with two to three Pakistan distributors to launch its entry-level notebook Classmate PC and expects to receive orders from government and education units in the country. In the next year, the portable segment is expected to lead overall PC market growth. This expectation is fuelled by the introduction of the Intel PC Classmate Program this year, which will drive procurement of notebooks from the education sector in upcoming quarters. Similarly, the adoption of notebooks from the home segment is also on the rise in Pakistan. The Classmate program is expected to boost up the portable market in the country.

Springboard Research, a leading innovator in the IT market research industry recently announced that the Pakistan PC/Server market witnessed a growth of 5.7% with 319,838 units shipped during first half of this year as compared to the same period of the preceding year. The x 86 server segments dominated the market during this period and experienced a growth of 7.7% year-on-year. The enterprises in the telecom, banking and finance sectors continued to be the largest procurers of IT solutions in the market, registering an annual growth of 21% in the first half of 2007, followed by the government and medium enterprises. Springboard has forecasted a marginal growth for the fourth quarter of 2007.

Some experts view that Pakistan's IT market is in between a "growth" and "decline" stage, where the country's political stability will play a major role in overall market performance. The government's recent decision not to withdraw or reduce the GST has weakened the growing IT market in the country, as well as decreased the confidence of MNC's.

Intel Pakistan has played a key role in helping Pakistani students to keep pace with the changing dynamics of the IT world. The Intel Teach Programme initiative is designed to enable teachers to effectively use technology to enhance student learning in the digital world. This programme has spread to over 75 cities, towns and districts in Pakistan with more than 127,000 teachers having been trained. Intel Awards is an attempt to appreciate the tireless efforts of teachers in grooming the future of the Pakistani youth. The 'Digital Empowerment Programme" has been initiated by Intel Pakistan Corporation in collaboration with the City District government Karachi to promote the use of advanced communication technology in schools located in remote areas of the city.

Intel Pakistan Corporation and the Industrial Information Network (IIN) of Small and Medium Enterprises Development Authority (SMEDA) recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) under which the Intel Pakistan is to set up four experience zones at SMEDA's selected sites which will facilitate SMEs to get information about the latest trends in technology as well as experience what role technology can play to enhance their business model. IIN was launched by the government in 2005 to make SME sector of the country competitive in e-business. The MoU would enhance IIN's effectiveness as government's first B2B Portal. Under the deal, Intel Pakistan is to provide SMEs with better facilities of e-business having an easy access to the latest technology tools to achieve rapid growth for optimal level of profitability. The collaboration of IIN and Intel Pakistan would further narrow the digital divide in the south Asian country.

This June, Intel Pakistan Corporation along with one of its premium providers (IPP) signed another MoU with Standard Chartered Bank to facilitate Raffles desktop PCs and HP/Apple MAC laptops to the bank's credit card customers in Pakistan.

In 2005, Mobilink GSM, Pakistan's leading cellular operator deployed a comprehensive, modular contact center solution from ZRG International, on standards-based modular building blocks from Intel Corporation. The solution enables Mobilink to cope with the expanding customer base and provide effective and reliable customer service.

The standards-based modular building blocks from Intel are based on high-availability servers with desktop workstations. These building blocks provided the telecommunications industry a cost-effective solution with the performance, choice and modular design capabilities which easily scale out to meet with the needs of an increasing customer base.

Pakistan's IT sector has witnessed a phenomenal growth during the last three years. Islamabad plans to build IT parks in major cities of the country. According to a survey of Pakistan's IT companies conducted in June last year by Pakistan Software Export Board (PSEB), there are almost 700 active IT companies in Islamabad, Karachi and Lahore, while in other smaller cities and towns there are around 50 IT firms. Growth in Islamabad over the last three years has been around 300%, in Karachi around 180% and in Lahore it has been around 150%. PSEB has already proposed a four-year draft strategic plan, which will increase the IT industry's size to US$ 10 billion in the calendar year 2010.