Aug 9 - 15, 20

The software export from Pakistan has attained the level of one billion dollar in the recently concluded financial year which is of course an encouraging sign. However, concerted efforts both by the public and private sector are imperative to capitalise on the rich potential foreign exchange earnings.

Pakistan IT sector should not be compared with the performance of the Indian IT sector which has achieved the level of $48 billion last year mainly because it is supported by 20 million fresh graduates every year. However, there is a lot of room for improvement in Pakistan especially on IT education side. With the exception of few institutions producing quality graduates, a number of so called IT institutes are imparting substandard of IT knowledge in the absence of quality teachers on one hand and wasting the precious time of the youngsters.

In this respect, Salim Ghauri, former Chairman Information & Communication Technologies (ICT) and Chairman NetSol Technologies Ltd, has suggested to the government to develop IT incubators in order to set up IT companies and encourage venture capital funds to provide 'one-window-facilities.'

He said Silicon Valley USA, Multimedia Corridor in Malaysia, and Internet City in Dubai has led to the growth of IT industry in the respective countries.

According to him, the IT industry has triggered GDP growth in world economies and there is a need to extend due importance to this industry in Pakistan as well. He said emerging economies like Korea, Ireland and India are relying heavily on their IT exports, which have reached to $97 billion, $24 billion $48 billion respectively during last fiscal year.

In Pakistan, he said, government has estimated information technology exports at $350 million for the current fiscal, which is much lower than the potential this industry possesses.

According to him, besides attracting large multinational businesses in the country, local entrepreneurs and investors in large numbers should be attracted through incentives and infrastructure support to give impetus to the sector.

He further said that local IT companies need to complement their expertise as well as augment their capacity through clustering as well as mergers/acquisitions for successful business propositions. He added that mergers, acquisitions and joint ventures with foreign software houses would help in the promotion of software development, software business and transfer of technology in Pakistan. Ghauri said only a proper mechanism to provide incentives is needed to be put in place, as it would enable the local companies to transform into world-class companies.

He said incentives such as tax concessions/rebates/support could play vital role for local IT companies to achieve higher CMMI Level certification, opening offices overseas and for earning foreign exchange from software exports.

Ghauri appreciated the ministry of information technology for focusing on human resource development related projects during the current fiscal year 2010-11. He said continuity of Five-year National ICT Scholarship Program launched last year would provide opportunities to the students of rural and less developed areas to get access to best quality ICT education in Pakistani universities. (AB)