Pakistan's Multi-Billion Dollar IT Industry

Pakistan's information technology industry is quite young. It is in very early stages of development compared to the much older and bigger Indian IT industry, which had a significant headstart of at least a decade over Pakistan. During the lost decade of the 1990s under Bhutto and Sharif governments, Pakistani economy stagnated and its IT industry did not make any headway. However, the industry has grown at 40% CAGR during the 2001-2007, and it is estimated at $2.8 billion as of last year, with about half of it coming from exports. This pales in comparison to over $5 billion revenue a year reported by India's Tata Consulting alone.

Here's some data on Pakistan's IT industry:

"The State Bank of Pakistan for 2007-08 reports the export figures of software and Information Technology-enabled services to be US$169 million which shows a consistent annual growth. State Bank of Pakistan adopted BPM 5 reporting system to report the IT exports revenue, which restricted the export figures to US$169 million only in 2007-08. In India, the Reserve Bank of India follows the BPM 6 (also called MSITS) Reporting System, which raises its exports to billions of US dollars. BPM 6 includes sales to multinationals, earning of overseas offices & salaries of non-immigrant overseas workers to export revenue. Using the MSITS Reporting System, Pakistan IT Industry exports are estimated at US$ 1.4 billion while the industry size is estimated at US$ 2.8 billion. It is significant to note that Pakistan IT exports growth in each of the last few years has been more than 40%."

According to a report by the Pakistan Software Export Board (PSEB), the top five companies that have contributed the most to the IT sector are Netsol Technologies(NASDAQ: NTWK), Ovex Technologies, TRG Private Ltd, Systems Private Ltd, and Elixir Technologies.

The revenue per employee for the top Indian IT firms of Wipro, Infosys and TCS ranges between $40,000 and $50,000 per employee per year...about $20 t0 $25 per hour per employee, according to Gartner. The Indian revenue per employee is quite competitive relative to the US firms IBM Global Services, EDS, ans Accenture whose revenue per employee exceeds $150,000 per year, about $75 per hour. In comparison, the average figure of $28000 per employee per year (or $14 an hour) is extremely competitive for Pakistan's IT industry average. Probably the higher-end firms make more while others make less.

Pakistani colleges and universities produce almost 1.2 million skilled graduates annually. The Musharraf government announced a $1 billion spending plan over the next decade to build 6 additional state-of-the-art science and engineering universities. If the current government follows through on it, then the scheme would be overseen by the Higher Education Commission for completion in a few years time.

In terms of enrollment, the 2005 Pakistan Education Census reported 43,801 students enrolled in 4-yr engineering institutions, another 37,635 students in 3-year colleges offering Information Technology degrees, and 69,719 studying in three-year polytechnic institutes. 53% of the students out of the total 1.16 million enrolled in colleges are girls, according to the 2005 Census.

About 10,000 of the current 1.2 million graduates are engineers with 4-year degrees. In addition, Pakistan also produces at least 25,000 polytechnic inst graduates with three year diplomas (according to recent news in the Nation newspaper) who have less than 4 years of college.

A number of reports inflate the number of engineering graduates in India, as these numbers includes both 4 years and 2-3 years degrees. While it is claimed that India graduates over 200, 000 engineers a year, a Duke study concluded that half of these are 2 or 3-year degrees.

So, for apples to apples comparison, the number of India's engineering graduates is closer to the US's 70,000 engineering grads. And of course, the quality of US graduates is much much higher because they graduate from some of the best schools in the world. Other than about 5000 grads from IITs , the rest of Indian grads are from second and third tier schools that bear no comparison to engineering schools in the developed world in terms of quality. The cost advantage that India offers will still favor a continuing growth based on outsourcing of business and engineering services from the developed world.

Currently, Pakistan is struggling with a powerful insurgency and a stagnant economy that is taking a heavy toll on the nation. If, however, the political and military leadership succeed in creating a semblance of peace and stability in the nation of 170 million, then there can be an expectation of a bright future ahead for the IT industry in particular, and an innovation-based knowledge economy in general.

Related Links:

ICT: Hope or Hype

Haq's Musings

Truth About India's IT Revolution

Education in Pakistan

Musharraf's Legacy

Quality of Higher Education in India, Pakistan

Pakistan's IT Industry Takes Off

Pakistan Launches UAV Production Line

Pakistan's Defense Industry Going High-Tech

Pakistan's Software Successes

Pakistan's Industrial Sector

Pakistan's Financial Services Sector

Auto Sector in India and Pakistan

Pakistan Textile Industry Woes

Pakistan Software Houses Association

Comments

Dr Asim Bajwa said…
Hi Sir!
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Riaz Haq said…
Here's an Express Tribune report about Pakistan's IT export potential:

KARACHI: Pakistan could play host to an extreme growth spurt in the information technology industry in the next 10 years, according to a study quoted by IBM’s Country General Manager Hamayun Bashir.

Speaking at a ceremony held to celebrate a century of IBM’s existence on Thursday, Bashir informed Pakistan may have up to one million jobs in the information technology industry by 2020.

“IBA students are working on a study with assistance from the Overseas Investors Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s IT committee. The report, to be published in a few months, underlines that by 2020, Pakistan can easily have a million jobs and exports of $10 billion in the IT industry,” he asserted.

He expressed hope that the current figure of 0.15 million jobs in the industry could easily be increased. “I see a bright future for our industry, which is producing top-quality software,” said Bashir.

“We are meeting the IT ministry on behalf of Pasha – the chamber for IT in the country – to get officials to refocus on the sector,” said Bashir.

Commenting on the resignation of former IT minister Babar Awan, he said, “The minister was an important, focal point of the industry.”

“I have heard that the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is providing funds and a data centre will be created in Islamabad,” he said while talking about the e-government programme.

Replying to a complaint that large organisations in the country, such as banks, did not give projects to local firms, he said that there were up to 60 large companies in Pakistan which needed tried and tested software.

He, however, explained that there were at least 10,000 small companies that would not be able to afford services of large international firms and would have to adopt local software solutions, which would help the economy grow.
Riaz Haq said…
While Pakistan fares badly, ranking 103 on a list of 125 nations, on CII-INSEAD Global Index of Innovation for 2011, it is included among the top 10 countries for the Innovation Efficiency sub-Index. These countries are Côte d’Ivoire, Nigeria, China, Pakistan, Moldova, Sweden, Brazil, Argentina, India, and Bangladesh.



This places Pakistan in 4th place on CII-Insead's Global innovation efficiency sub-index, 5 places ahead of India in 9th place, according to Economic Times of India:



India has improved its ranking in the global Innovation Efficiency Index to 9th position in 2011 from 101th last year on factors like political stability, R&D, market and business sophistication, according to a study.



Surprisingly, Pakistan was placed ahead of India at 4th position, the CII-INSEAD study said.



However, India has slipped on its ranking in the Global Innovation Index to 62nd position out of 125 countries in 2011 from 56th last year while Switzerland was at the top,



It said that a lot of Indian talent is returning home to the country and the youth in urban India are now more global than ever, "and they are quite in tune with new technologies, even ahead of the curve in many cases, as early adapters".



"Multinational corporations are making large investments in R&D outside of their headquarter countries, setting up R&D sites in low-cost emerging countries such as China and India to access global talent and take advantage of their proximity to target markets," the report said.



Indian major players such as Tata, Godrej, and Mahindras are shifting their focus towards the rapidly expanding middle-income group of customers by coming up with frugal innovations, keeping in mind the price sensitivity of Indian consumers, it said.




http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/economy/indicators/india-moves-up-to-no9-on-global-innovation-efficiency-index/articleshow/9085252.cms



http://www.globalinnovationindex.org/gii/GII%20COMPLETE_PRINTWEB.pdf



http://www.riazhaq.com/2009/12/intellectual-wealth-of-nations.html



http://www.riazhaq.com/2009/10/pakistans-28-billion-it-industry.html
Riaz Haq said…
Pakistan has exported $750 million software solutions last year, according to Pakistan Software Exports Board. This is a huge increase over $169 million reported in 2007-2008.

It should be noted that Pakistan uses BPM5 balance of payments method for reporting software and IT exports, and BPM5 significantly understates the value relative to BPM6 (MSITS) method used by RBI India.

BPM 6 (MSITS) includes sales to multinationals operating within the country, earning of overseas offices & salaries of non-immigrant overseas workers to export revenue.
Riaz Haq said…
Here's a UKPA story of a Pakistani innovators harnessing the Internet for the poor:

One of the world's top young technology innovators is working to bring internet-style networking to millions of Pakistanis who don't have access to the web.

Umar Saif's efforts, which centre around giving ordinary citizens new ways to use a basic mobile phone, recently earned him recognition by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The trigger for his research was a 2005 earthquake in Pakistani-controlled Kashmir that killed 80,000 people and caused widespread destruction. The disaster coincided with his return to Pakistan after getting a PhD in computer science from the University of Cambridge.

Realising that rescue workers were having trouble co-ordinating, Saif, 32, devised a computer program that allowed people to send a text message - or SMS - to thousands of people at once. Users send a text to a specific phone number to sign up for the program, and then can message all the subscribers, allowing users to engage in the kind of social networking possible on the internet.

It has since blossomed into a commercial enterprise called SMS-all that is used by at least 2.5 million people who have sent nearly four billion text messages.

"You can do the sorts of things that we do on Facebook and Twitter," said Saif, now an associate professor at the Lahore University of Management Sciences.

The company generates revenue by charging a small amount for each message. Saif has expanded the service to Iraq and Nigeria by working with telecommunication companies there.

Roughly 20 million Pakistanis use the internet, about 11% of the country's total population of 187 million. But there are more than 108 million Pakistani mobile phone subscribers.

"The thing to do is to bring whatever you have on the internet on the phone lines, because that is what gets used the most," said Saif.


http://www.google.com/hostednews/ukpress/article/ALeqM5gGB71MuxyPPnNQBdZ4xMfvksHuxA?docId=N0201411315222132958A
Riaz Haq said…
Here's a report on business deals signed during Karachi Trade Expo in Pakistan:

Various agreements and Memorandum of Understandings (MoUs) have been signed between Pakistani companies and foreign firms on the second day of 6th Expo Pakistan, which are aimed to create new trade opportunities for Pakistani industries.
Chromium and other industries from Information Technology sector signed over $300 million worth of trade deals with different international organisations during the 2nd day of this international event.
For the first time a Hong Kong based company Ormita Commerce Network, which operates as an international barter exchange platform and currently facilitating approximately $2.66 billion transaction per annum, has struck a strategic investment deal with Pakistani firm Alpha Dairies to launch Operation in Pakistan.
Under the agreement signed, the foreign firm plans to conduct more than $120 million of bilateral trade within 12 months of the finalisation of the deal, said Daniel Evans Chief Executive Officer of Ormita.
Talking to Profit, he said that for the first time the ‘barter business’ is being launched in Pakistan under which his company would play a third party role for imports, as government itself can acquire high-tech machineries and commodities from Ormita network participants across the globe and it can pay the dues by using its own under utilised resources or raw materials.
According to Daniel, all kinds of machineries, equipments and other goods could be imported through the barter business with the exchange of raw materials or other available products in Pakistan. Since Pakistan is currently facing several risks, including financial deficit, energy crisis and political instability, for any investment in Pakistan, the barter system is the only solution for any foreign investment in Pakistan. Currently barter system accounts for nearly 30 per cent of the world’s total business, and this is the best solution for a country to build trade relations with other countries in the absence of interest from foreign investments.
“Ormita is currently representing non-cash trading for more than 0.21 million traders across 54 different countries, and it is operating this huge amount of trade through 21 offices in different counties. Pakistan, rather than a cash payment, can exchange it’s under utilised resources or raw materials as a payment for the services or high-tech machineries imported from Ormita” he added.
The Trade Development Authority of Pakistan CEO met with CCPIT China Vice Chairman Huang Shan, Malaysia State Minister Haji Abdul Malik, and other importers. He said that fruitful discussions were made with the dignitaries from China, Japan, UK, USA, France, Brazil, Greece, Argentina, Madagascar, Belgium, South Africa, South Korea, Poland, Malaysia, Nigeria, New Zeeland, India, Panama and Colombia.
The foreign buyers, who met the concerned Pakistani companies’ representatives during the exhibitions have informed him that majority of them had good deals with the country’s exporters and also have placed orders worth millions of dollars.
Earlier, Tariq Rafi, Chief Executive of Siddiquesons Limited, claimed that his company has received import orders worth millions of dollars from buyers from Argentina, Brazil, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Japan and USA as they were interested in denim imports. Almost half of the visiting countries were new customers for this sector.
He said the exporters of denim and other textile items were satisfied with the developments and trade deals made during the 6th Expo as they had received a good response from the foreigners.


http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2011/10/pakistani-it-companies-sign-300m-worth-trade-deals/?thick=off&KeepThis=true&TB_iframe=true&height=540&width=962
Riaz Haq said…
Here's an overview Pakistan IT industry in 2011, as published in Express Tribune:

The year 2011 saw a number of positive developments in Pakistan’s Information and Technology (IT) industry, from app development to global recognition and a series of awards.

HIGHLIGHTS

Pakistan Fast Growth 25

In a first for the IT industry, the Pakistan Fast Growth 25, a ranking of fast growth companies, listed 10 IT companies on its index. The Pakistan Fast Growth 25 is a program of the AllWorld Network in partnership with Harvard Business School Professor Michael Porter, launched in collaboration with JS Bank Limited.

Official Game for ICC 2011 Cricket World Cup

Local development company, Mindstorm Studios developed the official game for the ICC 2011 Cricket World Cup.The browser-based 3D game, “Cricket Power” features all 14 official teams along with players, stadiums and kits.

Pak-India ICT Firms to enhance trade up to $5b

Pakistani and Indian IT committees held bilateral talks separately on both sides of borders in March – aimed at enhancing trade ties in the field of IT. In the talks, both countries agreed to boost mutual trade in the IT sector by $5 billion through joint-ventures, investment and exchange of expertise.

Netsol deal in India

Local ICT company Netsol engaged with Indian companies to provide applications for financial services. It signed an agreement to sell its product “Netsol Financial Suite” to a global auto leasing company operating in India.

Google grants to social innovators

In another first for Pakistan, Google has granted seed money to a local association for social causes.

Google granted $250,000 to Pakistan Software Houses Association that launched Pasha Fund for distributing the amount to talented innovators. So far four individuals were selected to receive funds.

Pepper.pk mobile apps triumph

Local app developers, Pepper.pk hit the number one spot in Blackberry App World. Their application, LED Notifier Pro, has been immensely popular since its launch and ranked among the best selling Blackberry applications in the world. Additionally, their app, Photo Editor for BlackBerry has occupied the number one rank on App World twice in the past three months.

TenPearls wins Nokia contest twice

Pakistani IT firm TenPearls marked another record, beating out 800 entrants to bag second position and received a $50,000 cash prize at ‘Nokia & AT&T Innovators 2011 Contest’.

This is the second award TenPearls has received for its mobile app named “Animal 101” within a year. Their first award was first prize for their app uTrack mobile earlier in 2011 for the same platform in Pakistan.

Pakistan Shines at APICTA

Pakistan was declared the winner of two gold and five silver awards at the 11th annual Asia Pacific ICT Awards (APICTA) 2011 in Pattaya, Thailand. Pakistani firms secured two gold awards in the e-health and e-logistics and SCM categories and five silvers in the communication, financial, security, e-inclusion and e-community and e-government categories.

Pakistan’s team comprised of 18 products which competed against 162 different products from the Asia Pacific region.


http://tribune.com.pk/story/317436/2011-pakistan-it-industrys-golden-year/
Riaz Haq said…
Here's Express Tribune on IT contractors in Pakistan:

..From business process outsourcing to developing smartphone apps, Pakistani IT professionals are seem to be going after every opportunity, especially in the online job market, to bring home valuable foreign exchange.

In high demand, Pakistani IT professionals are growing significantly on oDesk, a Silicon valley-based online marketplace, in terms of both revenues and subscriptions to the platform.

“Pakistan is one of our largest contractor bases, and it is growing steadily,” CEO Gary Swart said in reply to queries through email. Contractors in Pakistan earned almost $1.5 million on oDesk in January 2012 alone, he said. “That figure is more than double the $700,000 they earned in January 2011, which is really an impressive growth!”

In January 2012, Swart said, more than 4,500 contractors from Pakistan signed up for oDesk, which enables businesses to hire, manage and pay a flexible online workforce, representing significant growth over previous months.

The top five categories of oDesk that work in Pakistan, according to the CEO, are web programming, web design, search engine optimisation, software development and mobile apps.

“In these five categories alone, contractors from Pakistan earned $796,000 in January 2012.” The number of Pakistani professionals that sign up for oDesk is growing steadily at a rate of 11% month over month, he added.

As seen from the top five job categories for Pakistani contractors, Swart said, there is certainly a large demand for their IT skills on the oDesk marketplace – which was the seventh fastest-growing company of Silicon Valley in 2011, according to the Silicon Valley Business Journal.

oDesk, according to Swart, is world’s largest online marketplace – as measured by dollars earned by contractors each month – and has 1.6 million registered contractors where 120,000 new jobs are posted each month. Contractors earned more than $225 million on oDesk last year, he said.

IT services are definitely a sweet spot for the oDesk marketplace in general, Swart said. The top two job categories on oDesk overall – web development and software development – together make up more than half of the total earnings on the platform, and demand for IT skills continues to grow rapidly.

Pakistan’s IT industry, according to Pakistan Software Export Board, has seen steady growth over the last few years despite sluggish economic growth – thanks to the online job market.

IT and IT-enabled services exports stood between $560 million and $860 million last year, according to former managing director of PSEB Imran Zia. On a Y-o-Y basis, the IT sector has been growing at 15% to 20% for the last three years and the growth in 2011 was about 15%. The future outlook for Pakistani IT professionals looks promising as IT jobs are in high demand on oDesk, where subscription rate of Pakistani contractors is growing steadily.

“IT jobs are our most in-demand category – which means we have significantly more IT opportunities for contractors from all countries, Pakistan included,” Swart said. “So we believe that we have more Pakistani IT professionals than any other online work marketplace,” he added.


http://tribune.com.pk/story/338556/pakistani-it-professionals-in-high-demand/
Riaz Haq said…
Here's a report about growth of B2B transactions led by tradekey.com in Pakistan:

The global B2B e-commerce transactions have crossed US$ 12.4 trillion milestone in 2012 which was just US$ 3.4 trillion in 2005. If Pakistani businesses explore the online business opportunities, Pakistan has enormous potential to increase its exports many fold within few years.

These views were expressed by Hafiz Saqif, head of global business expansion of TradeKey while addressing the MIT enterprise forum Pakistan, at IBA Campus. TradeKey, a Pakistani B2B online portal which is ranked 3rd largest business to business website in the world, facilitates over US$ 100 million import/export transactions every month through its website.

Tradekey claims that world over the online trade business is touching new heights but Pakistan doesn’t have any substantial share in online trade. Internet is the future of Pakistani economy and if we utilize the full potential of opportunities available on the internet, country can easily accelerate its exports many fold.

The senior TradeKey official emphasized on the need to utilize universities and academia in developing resources that can explore the true strength of online businesses. He also shared the next year plan of TradeKey in reviving Pakistani exports by laying a comprehensive corporate club program that smartly integrate resources from the manufacturing industry and teams them up with universities students having online exposure. This, Tradekey claims, will not only reduce the gap between the industry and the online world but will also develop a pool of skilled resources that can take Pakistani export to the next level.

TradeKey facilitates importers and exporters worldwide by providing them with the opportunity to interact with the businesses of their interest around the world through its website. TradeKey is Pakistan’s first and only Business to Business website and has its major clientele in US and China. Over US$ 100 million buying and selling that takes place through TradeKey website is mainly from US, China and Europe.


http://www.thenewstribe.com/2012/04/03/pakistan-crosses-global-b2b-e-commerce-transactions-of-12-4-trillion-in-2012/#.T3o298XnI14

http://www.tradekey.com/
Riaz Haq said…
Here's an Express Tribune story on Tradekey, a B2B company based in Karachi:

You would never think that a company that was giving Alibaba.com – the world’s largest business-to-business portal – a run for its money around the world was based out of Karachi and yet there it is. Tucked away in an office suite on Sharae Faisal, the global headquarters of Tradekey.com look rather unremarkable, until you start asking the executives what they have achieved and what they plan on doing next.

“We want to be one of the world’s biggest companies,” says Junaid Mansoor, the founder and CEO of Tradekey, in a rather matter-of-fact tone of voice. “We want to be in businesses that affect the largest number of people.”

Tradekey.com, the world’s third largest B2B portal, is certainly an impressive beginning by the 32-year-old Mansoor, though by no means his first venture into the world of web-based start-ups. The serial entrepreneur created his first company when he was just 15 years old: a web-based e-mail service that promised to share its revenues with its users. (The site – moneywithmail.com – went bust when the dotcom bubble burst in 2001).

Tradekey.com has about 5.8 million members, of whom only about 5,000 have paid subscriptions, the source of the bulk of the company’s revenues, though the company also offers advertising services. While it does not release financial information about itself, based on the company’s fee for its two levels of premium services, Tradekey’s revenues are estimated to exceed $3 million a year.

Crucially from the company’s perspective, however, it has been growing at a rate of more than 86% a year (Tradekey did not offer a precise number). According to Mansoor, an analysis conducted by a third-party expert valued the company at around $700 million......


http://tribune.com.pk/story/275463/tradekey-a-pakistani-david-taking-on-a-chinese-goliath/
Riaz Haq said…
Here's a Post & Parcel report on modernization of Pakistan Post:

US company Escher Group has won a contract to provide its point-of-service software for post offices in Pakistan.

The Boston-based firm said today it has secured the deal with Islamabad-based information and communications technology firm TelcoNet, a contractor for Pakistan Post.

The deal will mean initially trialling Escher’s RiposteEssential retail point-of-sale system in a number of branches, before potentially rolling the system out to the network of 13,000 Pakistan Post branches.

Escher said centralising Pakistan Post’s financial services would mean customers being able to access them easily and more conveniently.

The project is the first part of an “ambitious” effort by Pakistan Post to improve its entire network and automate a full range of services including mail, retail services and payment processes.

Escher said its RiposteEssential system is now in use in 32 countries worldwide.

The Riposte system is described by its producer as “middleware”, allowing different applications operating on different computers to communicate with each other and manage data centrally. RiposteEssential serves the mail and courier markets, linking postal facilities with utilities, financial services companies, banks and governments.

Liam Church, Escher’s chief executive, said the deal with TelcoNet was a significant development for his company in Asia.

“Pakistan Post is one of the largest postal operators in the region and Escher is looking forward to assisting the Post in its modernisation strategy,” he said.

Irfan Ali, the CEO at TelcoNet, said: “This partnership with Escher is testament to our commitment to work with world-leading technology providers that provide value-added solutions to clients such as Pakistan Post.”


http://postandparcel.info/46972/news/companies/escher-group-to-help-pakistan-post-modernise-network/
Riaz Haq said…
Here's an ET report on PM Gilani's plan to promote online education in Pakistan's under-served areas:

Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani has announced that the federal government will allocate Rs17 billion for the development of Information Technology (IT) infrastructure and broadband connectivity in un-served areas in the next budget.

Addressing the third convocation of Virtual University at the Expo Centre here on Saturday, the prime minister said that education in general and science and technology education in particular were “a matter of life and death” for the nation.

He said his government had already spent Rs22 billion on IT. He also announced an IT award of Rs20 million for talented students from backward areas.

Gilani said that broadband centres would be established in each union council and these would provide 30,000 jobs this year. He also announced the establishment of 30 more Virtual University campuses throughout the country including in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan.

The prime minister directed the IT minister to expedite the awarding of contracts for 3G mobile technology in Pakistan.

He said that this technology would create jobs and promote development. He said that he had directed the finance minister to create 100,000 jobs in the budget for 2012-13.

“An educated Pakistan, which is the vision of Virtual University, is in line with my government’s determination to provide an affordable and quality education to all at the same time. I want the university to undertake expansion projects and increase its nationwide presence. I have already approved, in principle, the setting up of a custom-built Virtual University campus in every district of the country. I am very glad to hear that the first four campuses under this initiative have already started functioning,” he said.

Gilani said though education was a provincial subject after the passage of the 18th Amendment, the federal government was “committed to increasing the share of GDP for education in line with the Millennium Development Goals”.

Pakistan currently has one of the lowest rates in the world of spending on education as a proportion of GDP.

The prime minister praised Virtual University for its “quality and innovative techniques of delivery”. He noted that the university’s open course ware website had been recognised as the best in the world by the Open Courseware Consortium that included such world leaders as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford and Yale.

Gilani said that the government was planning to raise the rate of enrolment in higher education significantly in coming years. “The only way this quantitative and qualitative growth can take place is through an effective use of technology for the dissemination of education for students residing in all areas of the country. I am glad that Virtual University is playing its due role in this respect,” he added


http://tribune.com.pk/story/381449/it-infrastructure-pm-announces-rs17-billion-for-broadband/
Riaz Haq said…
Here's an IBM press release in Sacramento Bee on its contract for mobile banking technology in Pakistan:

KARACHI, Pakistan, Nov. 1, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced that Monet, one of Pakistan's leading mobile-commerce providers, has selected a customized IBM cloud-based solution that will enable the company to enhance service efficiency and expand its presence across the country.

Launched in 2012, Monet provides banks, mobile network operators and branchless banking agents in Pakistan with a technology platform that offers end-users a simple interface through which they can access a wide range of financial services on their mobile phones.

Mobile banking and financial services are expected to grow significantly in Pakistan in the coming years. Increased demand for affordable banking, a lack of traditional banking infrastructure and an aggressive branchless banking mandate from the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has driven quick uptake of mobile banking in the country.

With a population of 180 million, a mobile phone penetration of more than 70% and a banked ratio of only 22%, Pakistan offers a large potential market for Mobile Financial Services (MFS). According to an SBP recent branchless banking newsletter, the number of mobile banking accounts was at 1.45 million, showing a growth of 37% during the second quarter of 2012, with new level zero account openings registering a jump of 370%. The existing accounts activity level also improved substantially during the quarter as the number of active accounts increased by 66%.1

To capture this opportunity, Monet chose IBM to develop a unique IT environment allowing the company to offer reliable and efficient services to a growing customer base throughout the country.

"Mobile financial services have reached an inflection point where they have moved from niche to mainstream," said Ali Abbas Sikander, CEO, Monet. "We believe mobile can potentially become the strongest channel for the delivery of financial services. IBM's cloud solution will allow us to reach our clients easily, giving us access to a wider base of customers and ultimately extending the reach of financial services in the country."

IBM will develop a specialized solution based on IBM SmartCloud technology, to deploy Monet's mobile banking applications from Fundamo, a leading mobile financial services platform provider and an IBM partner. The private cloud will allow Monet to save on initial investments in IT and help the company offer more efficient services at a reduced cost.

IBM SmartCloud infrastructure is based on IBM servers, storage and software optimized to meet growing mobile demand. In addition, Monet has outsourced the entire networking, security, cryptographic solutions, and disaster recovery to IBM, in order to focus on its core business.

"Mobile and Cloud are a powerful combination to provide sustainable and affordable banking services to millions of people in Pakistan," said Adnan Siddiqui, CGM, IBM Pakistan and Afghanistan. "IBM has global experience in the financial services sector and a thorough understanding of the local market, and our engagement with Monet is expected to benefit banking customers across the country."..


Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2012/11/01/4953392/leading-pakistan-mobile-banking.html

http://www.monet-online.com/
Riaz Haq said…
Here's an excerpt of MIT Technology Review piece on controlling dengue fever outbreak using smartphones in Lahore, Pakistan:

Last year, the city of Lahore, Pakistan, was hit with the worst outbreak of dengue fever in its history. The mosquito-transmitted disease infected some 16,000 people and took 352 lives. This year was a completely different story. There were only 234 confirmed cases and no deaths. The magnitude of the disease varies year to year, but some of the turnaround could be credited to a new system of tracking and predicting outbreaks in the region.

Researchers working for the Pakistani government developed an early epidemic detection system for their region that looked for telltale signs of a serious outbreak in data gathered by government employees searching for dengue larvae and confirmed cases reported from hospitals. If the system’s algorithms spotted an impending outbreak, government employees would then go to the region to clear mosquito breeding grounds and kill larvae. “Getting early epidemic predictions this year helped us to identify outbreaks early,” says Umar Saif, a computer scientist at the Lahore University of Management Sciences, and a recipient of MIT Technology Review's Innovators Under 35 award in 2011.

“This year, because of the tracking system and the efforts of government employees on the ground, we could look at a map and tell if certain areas were going to develop into an epidemic,” says Saif, who has been working with the government during a sabbatical. “The key is to be able to localize and quarantine a disease like this and prevent it from developing into an epidemic,” he says.

The groundwork for the early detection system was another project headed by Saif: Flubreaks. This system processes data from Google Flu Trends, which estimates the spread of flu based on search terms related to the disease. “That whole idea of being able to scrape digital data has helped us find outbreaks faster,” says Mark Smolinski, director of Global Health Threats at Skoll Global Threats Fund, a nonprofit that recently helped launch a site called Flu Near You, which tracks flu based on a weekly electronic survey that asks people about their health and any flu symptoms.

Smolinski was part of the team at Google to develop Google Flu Trends, which he says can speed up outbreak identification. “You can gain a couple of weeks just by aggregating data of search terms on the Internet,” he says.

While Google Flu Trends identifies outbreaks as they occur, Flubreaks can see them before they start by teasing out global flu trends and making early epidemic predictions.

The results from Flubreaks closely matched actual outbreaks reported by the Centers for Disease Control, says Saif. “We found that idea very exciting,” says Saif. Countries like Pakistan typically do not have a well established disease surveillance network, he says. “We want one for dengue in Pakistan, but it’s a very expensive and difficult thing to manage.”
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The dengue monitoring system relies on real-world field testing of mosquito larvae and reports from hospitals to predict where dengue outbreaks are starting. If a certain neighborhood is suspected to be at the beginning of an outbreak, then government officials could search out mosquito-larvae reservoirs such as pools of water that are likely causing the problem.

The system was put to use this summer. Using 1,500 Android phones, government workers in the region tracked the location and timing of confirmed dengue cases and the mosquito larvae that carry the disease. Each case was tagged by time and location. “Because of the Android phones, we could localize the outbreak to a couple of hundred houses. Inevitably, we would find some water in or near these houses.” ....


http://www.technologyreview.com/news/506276/pakistan-uses-smartphone-data-to-head-off-dengue-outbreak/
Riaz Haq said…
Here's an ET report on tech market growth in Pakistan:

“Broadband penetration and mobile telidensity is creating a bandwidth shortage in Pakistan, which will widen manifold as third generation mobile technology rolls out. That’s where we see the opportunity, as businesses will need to optimise their hardware, storage and software,” says Oracle Corporation’s Vice President of ASEAN Systems Sales Ron Goh.

Goh, in an interview with journalists, said that current data centre operations are unsustainable and often fail to meet the needs of growing businesses. “By optimising existing data centres,” he said, “organisations can significantly increase IT efficiency along with system performance, availability and security. By doing this, they can reduce their spending on systems operations and integration that eat up around 80% of the IT budget,” he added.

Through Data Centre Optimisation (DCO), businesses can lower operation costs by 75%, according to Goh. “DCO is not a machine or software, but a combination of storage, servers, operating systems, engineered systems and software to simplify the IT infrastructure,” he explained.

“Pakistan is a fast growing country where demand for technology is increasing,” Goh observed, “even businesses that have Data Centre Optimisation technology want to upgrade the same to global standards.”

Explaining the need for upgrading database storage infrastructure, “These new challenges can’t be met with application silos [storage towers] running on aging hardware technologies,” he said.

Giving an example, Goh said organisations which have implemented more efficient technologies were not only able to lower operating costs, but also drove better productivity, which ultimately gives the organisation a quantifiable return on investment and a real competitive advantage within the industry.

Operating in Pakistan since 1997, Oracle’s clientele has grown to 1,100 customers.Through its local partners, the database giant helps businesses adopt integrated information technology infrastructures for higher work efficiency.


http://tribune.com.pk/story/469356/oracle-sees-growth-in-pakistani-tech-industry/
Riaz Haq said…
Here's a News report on Teradata business operations in Pakistan:

KARACHI: Stephen Brobst, Chief Technology Officer of Teradata, is impressed with talent base in Pakistan. In his recent visit to Pakistan, he said this was the only reason prompting the company to keep its operational base in Pakistan while extending its data warehousing services across Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Gulf Cooperation Council. These services are essential for organisations that keep interacting with a number of customers and their queries on daily basis.



Data warehousing provides an enormous repository to not only store but also compare present and historical records to facilitate corporate decision making. A PhD from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a member of Barack Obama’s ‘President’s Innovation and Technology Advisory Committee’, he looked quite eager to educate organisations—the targets are financial and telecom sectors—in Pakistan about the benefits of utilising data warehousing (a next step to enterprise resource planning) prior to devise pricing plan, marketing strategies, or funding decisions during an interview with The News. Following are the excerpts.



Why enterprise data warehousing is important?



All the sectors can take advantage of data warehousing. Health sector can utilise the technology to upgrade quality of services by decreasing costs. The Obama administration has asked the committee to formulate solutions to keep track on a number of patients, their diseases, health history, etc. On the basis of these data analytics, hospitals can reduce discrepancies existing in the data. Data warehousing enables, for example, hospitals to maintain health records and patients to keep away from frequent visitations to doctors



Given the low fund allocation to health sector in Pakistan, is data warehousing practical?



I can’t comment on the government’s funding. However, if the government of Pakistan asks us to work on the data, we are ready to extend our services.



Which organisations are Teradata catering to in Pakistan?



Pakistan International Airlines, Telenor Pakistan, and Nadra are few names that our company has served. Every organisation that deals with tonnes of data to perform its day-to-day jobs can benefit from our data warehousing (which transforms data into relevant information to formulate best pricing plan for instance). All top- and mid-tier companies and institutes can use our integrated data warehousing, data analytics, and business applications. ..


http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-3-151306-Teradata-to-keep-regional-operational-base-in-Pakistan
Riaz Haq said…
Here's an ET Op Ed on IT developments anticipated in 2012:

2013 will see the adoption of Cloud services continue to grow in Pakistan. Increasingly, customers – both individuals and companies – will seek to store their data ‘in the Cloud’ as opposed to physical data servers, as well as avail of software services on a ‘rental’ basis. Large MNCs, banks and other financial services companies have already moved into this domain some time ago. Looking forward, educational institutions are likely to take the next step, as digitisation of educational content takes place. Some progressive institutions have already adopted softwares such as Moodle and Learning Management Systems and incorporated their curriculum on them, thereby preparing their scholars for a digital future.
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Pakistan has over 100 million cellular subscribers; reportedly, around 10% of these use smart phones. Data usage has grown substantially, and there are an estimated 10 million mobile data users in Pakistan. However, it is important to note that 3G has been overhyped and may actually fall short of expectations, as it has in India.

Almost a year into its launch in India, only 2% of subscribers have opted for 3G services. 3G will require ubiquitous coverage for consumers to be satisfied with the services. WiMAX can play an important role here by offering a solution for data backhauling for telecom operators. Wateen has already deployed around 250 WiFi hotspots in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad, and is ideally positioned to fulfill the data needs for mobile operators.
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Branchless banking and m-commerce services will be the biggest innovations for the year. New entrants (Zong and Askari Bank, and Mobilink and Waseela) have recently launched their offerings and promise to improve the take-up of this service. New payment solutions will also be a first in the country, as smart phones enable swipe magnetic card readers and pioneering companies such as Inov8 Ltd begin to deliver on their potential for the consumer market. Smart phone apps will also be big.
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In Pakistan, some companies have already started bringing Android-based devices for as low as Rs5,000. Indians have recently announced that they will be developing the world’s cheapest tablet for $35. These devices will play an exceptional role in transforming societies. The consumerisation of IT has already started taking place in Pakistan. Companies like QMobile will play an important role in the proliferation of low-cost handheld devices. This, in turn, will impact the use of mobile internet and broadband, open WiFi and WiMAX, as well as Cloud services, as consumers look to access data and media on their handheld devices.


http://tribune.com.pk/story/499410/notes-from-the-world-of-it-2013--looking-ahead-into-the-year/
Riaz Haq said…
Here's ET on Freelancer.com launch in Pakistan:

KARACHI: With a self-employment boom and double-digit growth in internet subscriptions, Pakistan has become the third highest user of freelancer.com, the world’s biggest online marketplace in terms of user base, it was revealed at the launch of the website’s local version on Tuesday.

“Pakistan is the third largest country using the website [freelancer.com], closely following India and the United States,” said Adam Byrnes, International Director at freelancer who joined the ceremony through a video call from the company’s headquarters in Sydney, Australia.

“Pakistani freelancers have already earned more than $13 million from the platform,” he said.

Freelancer’s decision to launch the local website comes on the back of strong growth in subscriptions by Pakistani freelancers. The website presently has 240,000 Pakistani users.

According to a report prepared by freelancer, self-employed Pakistanis surged from 33.3% to 39.9% between 2009 and 2012. The report attributes this surge in subscriptions to the rise in internet use in Pakistan, which saw double-digit growth in the past five years. In terms of internet growth, Pakistan stands second in the Saarc region, the report said.

“I am excited about the launch of freelancer.pk because of the potential Pakistan represents for the platform,” said Byrnes who is responsible for expanding freelancer across the world. “This [Pakistan] is a high value market for employers abroad.”

With more than 30 million internet users, five million plus broadband users and a population approaching 200 million, according to Byrnes, it makes sense to have a presence in Pakistan.

“Going forward, we want to provide self-employment for a billion people, a significant portion of that is going to come from Pakistan,” he said.

Freelancer just hit seven million users globally and 4.2 million projects were facilitated by the website, Muhammad Umer Farooq, company director responsible for managing the freelancer website told The Express Tribune on the sidelines of the event.

“An amount of $150 million has been spent so far by users of freelancer.com,” he said, adding they make money by charging commission from both the employers and the freelancers who get projects.

Interestingly, Farooq pointed out, it is not only foreigners hiring Pakistani freelancers, but Pakistani companies are also giving contracts to Pakistani freelancers registered on the website. United States is the top country awarding 38% of total projects on freelancer while Pakistan stands fifth for it awards 4% of the projects.

The idea is to enable rupee transactions for Pakistani members for which the company is in talks with local banks, both Farooq and Byrnes said. “Secondly, we are soon going to have an Urdu version of the website,” Farooq said.

IT and graphic designing (logo design) are the top two categories at freelancer. Freelancers can bid for the projects posted by employers through a simple method, he said. Given that it is one of the top countries on the website, Pakistani freelancers can benefit from exposure to the international job markets – the UK, North America, Australia and Canada.


http://tribune.com.pk/story/516239/pakistan-3rd-highest-user-of-freelancer-as-self-employment-rises/

http://www.freelancer.com/work/paid-freelance-projects-pakistan/
Riaz Haq said…
Top four online outsourcing sites Elance.com, oDesk.com, freelancer.com, and Guru.com report that Pakistan ranks number 3, after US (#1)and India (#2), in terms of freelancers doing outsourced IT work on contract. Bangladesh ranks fourth.

It also shows US, Australia and the UK as the top hiring countries.

All of the above-mentioned websites work in a similar fashion: companies post job requirements on these sites. Next, freelancers or IT-companies offer their skills and price for the project listed on the website. Finally, the company chooses the best type of bid for its job requirements.

http://swproposal.com/Blog/Topic/How_to_work_with_Elance_oDesk_Freelancer_and_Guru
Riaz Haq said…
Here's a Finextra report on mobile money in Pakistan:

A shared mobile money network, built on Visa's Fundamo technology, that can be tapped by banks and telcos is preparing to launch in Pakistan.
Monet - which was set up by the massive Abu Dhabi Group last year - has now secured approval from the State Bank of Pakistan to build its network, which is being offered to local firms planning to launch mobile money services.

Built on Fundamo technology, Monet says its offering will provide a managed service platform, agent management services and bill aggregation services to new financial institutions and network operators interested in entering branchless banking services.

The first clients are Pakistan's sixth largest financial institution, Bank Alfalah, and Warid Telecom, who have teamed up to launch a new brand on the platform.

Monet says that its network will make it cheaper, easier and quicker for firms to tap into Pakistan's huge unbanked market. According to the Pakistan Access to Finance Survey, only 12% of the population has access to formal financial services, yet mobile penetration stands at nearly 70%, says the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority.

A recent study by the Boston Consulting Group estimates that 35% of the country's adult population will be using mobile financial services by 2020.

Ali Abbas Sikander, CEO, Monet, says: "We are building an open and collaborative eco-system which benefits all the stakeholders of the financial services ecosystem in Pakistan. Collaborative mobile financial services, as opposed to bank-led or telco-led deployment, is the paradigm shift which will assist in creating a bigger and less costly enabling environment for the issuers, acquirers and service providers."

Aletha Ling, COO, Fundamo, adds: "The platform allows service providers to think big, start small and scale fast. The result will be an ecosystem that that will support the long term and sustained growth of the Pakistani mobile financial services market."


http://www.finextra.com/News/FullStory.aspx?newsitemid=24626
Riaz Haq said…
Here's Daily Times on State Bank of Pakistan governor talking about mobile banking:

...The central policy objectives of SBP are to ensure safety, soundness and efficiency of the banking system, and to protect the interest of consumers, he said, adding that since branchless banking is becoming a vital component of the national payment grid, it is prudent for all stakeholders to ensure that appropriate measures are in place to mitigate inherent risks associated with it like access by unauthorised persons or criminals such as hackers, money launderers, terrorist financiers etc.

He said being fully cognisant of the risk factors involved in such unconventional modes of banking, SBP has been proactively monitoring developments and associated risks both at system and entity level in order to take appropriate corrective measures in a timely manner.

The SBP governor said that branchless banking has also proved to be an effective instrument in channelising the government to persons (G2P) payments in trying times like serving internally displaced persons (IDPs), and devastating floods for the last two years. The Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) beneficiaries are also being served effectively through the same mechanism, he said, adding that In the coming days, this channel is expected to continue playing an important role towards the promotion of financial inclusion and the management of G2P programmes like salaries disbursements, pensions, BISP, Watan Cards, Pakistan Cards and tax collections services, etc. The existing branchless banking deployments can cater to the needs of over 10 million potential beneficiaries of G2P payments in Pakistan, he added.

Anwar said that four branchless banking models including Easy Paisa, Omni, Mobile Cash and Time Pey are fully operational while two are running live pilots. He said that the branchless banking current growth trajectory is expected to get further steeper in the years ahead.

He said that the number of agent network servicing branchless banking customers has reached 42,000. Therefore, the basic financial services can now be accessed in the remotest parts of the country through any of these agents. Approximately 194 million transactions worth Rs 813 billion and more than 2.0 million m-wallets have been opened till date, he said, adding that numbers will improve significantly. The infrastructure of payment systems and branch network is also showing an increasing growth trend, he said adding that the ATMs network has increased to 6,232 whereas branch network has reached 11,600 while 94 percent of our branches are now real time on-line. Similarly, the number of plastic cards has increased to 20 million and the number of POS machines has increased to 34,000 units. This is a significant achievement, and this also demonstrates the opportunity to bring the benefits of this infrastructure to millions of the unbanked population, he added.

While acknowledging that branchless banking has gained critical mass in a short period of time, the SBP governor was of the view that the market has to start shifting transactions from first generational services (person-to-person/bills payments) to second generational services (account-to-account and inter-bank transfer). The players need to expand their product portfolio by offering new products and services for their target market. In my view, this is part of an inevitable evolution which will ensure the long-term sustainable development of the sector, encourage micro savings and help in meeting the demands for inclusive financial services of the target market, he added.


http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2013\03\15\story_15-3-2013_pg5_1
Riaz Haq said…
Here's Express Tribune on IT contractors in Pakistan:

..From business process outsourcing to developing smartphone apps, Pakistani IT professionals are seem to be going after every opportunity, especially in the online job market, to bring home valuable foreign exchange.

In high demand, Pakistani IT professionals are growing significantly on oDesk, a Silicon valley-based online marketplace, in terms of both revenues and subscriptions to the platform.

“Pakistan is one of our largest contractor bases, and it is growing steadily,” CEO Gary Swart said in reply to queries through email. Contractors in Pakistan earned almost $1.5 million on oDesk in January 2012 alone, he said. “That figure is more than double the $700,000 they earned in January 2011, which is really an impressive growth!”

In January 2012, Swart said, more than 4,500 contractors from Pakistan signed up for oDesk, which enables businesses to hire, manage and pay a flexible online workforce, representing significant growth over previous months.

The top five categories of oDesk that work in Pakistan, according to the CEO, are web programming, web design, search engine optimisation, software development and mobile apps.

“In these five categories alone, contractors from Pakistan earned $796,000 in January 2012.” The number of Pakistani professionals that sign up for oDesk is growing steadily at a rate of 11% month over month, he added.

As seen from the top five job categories for Pakistani contractors, Swart said, there is certainly a large demand for their IT skills on the oDesk marketplace – which was the seventh fastest-growing company of Silicon Valley in 2011, according to the Silicon Valley Business Journal.

oDesk, according to Swart, is world’s largest online marketplace – as measured by dollars earned by contractors each month – and has 1.6 million registered contractors where 120,000 new jobs are posted each month. Contractors earned more than $225 million on oDesk last year, he said.

IT services are definitely a sweet spot for the oDesk marketplace in general, Swart said. The top two job categories on oDesk overall – web development and software development – together make up more than half of the total earnings on the platform, and demand for IT skills continues to grow rapidly.

Pakistan’s IT industry, according to Pakistan Software Export Board, has seen steady growth over the last few years despite sluggish economic growth – thanks to the online job market.

IT and IT-enabled services exports stood between $560 million and $860 million last year, according to former managing director of PSEB Imran Zia. On a Y-o-Y basis, the IT sector has been growing at 15% to 20% for the last three years and the growth in 2011 was about 15%. The future outlook for Pakistani IT professionals looks promising as IT jobs are in high demand on oDesk, where subscription rate of Pakistani contractors is growing steadily.

“IT jobs are our most in-demand category – which means we have significantly more IT opportunities for contractors from all countries, Pakistan included,” Swart said. “So we believe that we have more Pakistani IT professionals than any other online work marketplace,” he added.


http://tribune.com.pk/story/338556/pakistani-it-professionals-in-high-demand/
Riaz Haq said…
Here's a Time Magazine article on Enernet---the use of information technology(IT) and Big Data in power grids:

Cutting energy waste is first and foremost a data challenge. You can’t cut waste until you know what you’re wasting, and most of us have only the slightest idea. Standard electricity meters take one reading for an entire month. Imagine trying to diet if all you knew was the total amount of food you ate every four weeks. Says Bennett Fisher, CEO of the building-efficiency start-up Retroficiency: “You need data to make energy saving work.”

We’ve got the data, thanks to the growth of smart, Internet-enabled sensors that can read and relay energy use almost in real time. A host of new big-data companies are figuring out how to crunch that information so energy users from huge factories to individual households can track and reduce waste. This combination of energy technology with the Internet–the industry calls it the Enernet–is the hottest sector in clean tech, in part because it relies on relatively cheap, easily scalable software rather than on the expensive factories needed for, say, making solar panels. “It’s much more capital-efficient,” says Roy Johnson, CEO of EcoFactor, an energy-management start-up.

And efficiency is what the Enernet is all about. Take Virginia-based Opower, one of the oldest and most successful Enernet companies. Opower began by offering homeowners the chance to compare their power use with their neighbors’. Just knowing whether they were energy hogs or energy saints–along with following Opower’s energy-efficiency tips–was enough to reduce waste among homeowners. But as smarter meters taking dozens of readings per day have begun to gather more-granular data, Opower has been able to offer much more. The company sorts through the data collected by smart meters to help customers identify exactly where the waste is occurring and how it can be reduced. “These are things we could never do without big-data analytics,” says Dan Yates, CEO of Opower.

For utilities, big data can be even more powerful and valuable for the bottom line. Smarter energy management can keep overloaded grids running and prevent the need for new, expensive plants. Energy use isn’t constant throughout the day or the year, but because utilities keep power running 24/7, they need to have spare capacity to accommodate spikes. Even if it isn’t needed all the time, that extra power has to be generated, usually by polluting and costly coal or gas plants. Companies like AutoGrid help utilities spread out the demand for energy, smoothing the spikes and reducing the need for unused excess power. AutoGrid’s algorithms sort through the petabytes of data from smart meters–adjusting for variables like weather–and spit out solutions that let utilities and their customers automatically shift nonessential electricity use to nonpeak times. The Enernet can also help utilities make better use of wind and solar power, compensating when the wind isn’t blowing or the sun isn’t shining. Amit Narayan, AutoGrid’s CEO, estimates that his company’s algorithms can help utilities get about 30% more power out of existing resources.

If we’re ever going to truly clean up our electrical grid, we’ll need to replace coal and natural gas with zero-carbon sources like solar or nuclear while improving efficiency. It won’t be easy or cheap. But a smarter, more efficient grid–enabled by the same intelligence that brought us the Internet–can help smooth that transition.


http://business.time.com/2013/03/28/smart-power/
Riaz Haq said…
India even violates the BPM6. BPM6 allows the salaries of first year of migrant workers to be included in a country's BOP. India continuously and cumulatively adds all the earnings of its migrants to US in its software exports. So if 50,000 Indians migrate on H1B visas each year, and they each earn $50,000 a year, thats a $2.5 billion addition to their exports each year. Cumulatively over 10 years, this would be $25 billion in exports year after year and growing...This is a clear violation of BPM rules. A 2005 US GAO study noted that US Imports of software from India were around $400 million in 2004 or so. While India at that time was reporting exports of $8 billion to US. That's a 20 times difference. I don't think following India is the way to go. India's software exports are extremely inflated. We should collect quality and factual data and consistently report what is right. The problem with us is that we don't even do that.

http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d06116.pdf
Riaz Haq said…
Here's an APP story on the launch of Open Source Software Foundation in Pakistan:

To make Pakistan a hub of open source technologies in Asia by 2020, Open Source Foundation of Pakistan (OSFP) was launched by a team of dedicated professionals from academia, IT industry and services sector. Speaking at a ceremony here, Founder of OSFP Babar Zahoor said the founding principles of the foundation has been set as “using and developing the local human resources for introducing IT based solutions for local markets, home users and industry”. It is believed that both public and private sector organizations are using billions of rupees to use imported close-ended software programs and technologies.
Many of them have to develop their activities around the imported softwares to save further billions because customization costs are used as traps by these foreign firms to lynch local firms of their valuable resources, he added.
Hence local industries lose the competitive edge not only in production but even in cyber security and data pilferage.
He said the OSFP will provide a platform to the private and public sector organizations and universities, it can help them save billions of rupees.
Babar Zahoor believes, “both private and public sectors can save these monies for human resource development in the country by spending a fraction of the cost they are bearing now by importing not-so-customized software from the monopolized close-ended sources.”
Thinking globally to give local solutions in the field of user friendly and customized IT sector, OSFP held its first elections in Islamabad to elect a five member executive council and a four office bearers.
Newly elected Executive Council Members are Saleem M. Rafik (Director General Operations NADRA), Dr Syed Iqbal Ahmad PhD (Adviser Education Oxfam Novib Pakistan, Ex Chief Scientist Pakistan Agri Research Center), Ms Asma Qadeer, Assistant Professor Linguistics (Vice President Women Wing Baluchistan Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf), Tahir Mahmood Chaudhary (President Computer Society of Pakistan, CEO of Pakistan Institute of Entrepreneurs, CEO of Falcon Engineering and Sarfaraz M. Khan Chief Technology Officer Path Finder, Ex Vice President Vectra Com Pvt. Ltd.
According to by laws, Executive Council Members will arrange first meeting to elect Foundation’s Chair and Vice Chair soon.


http://www.app.com.pk/en_/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=271267&Itemid=2
Riaz Haq said…
Mariam Adil, a young entrepreneur, is making waves in the Pakistani gaming industry.

According to recent data, Pakistan's software industry employs more than 24,000 people, including many startups like Mindstorm Studios by Ahmed, We R Play by Mohsin Ali Afzal and Waqar Azim, and the now famous Caramel Tech Studios in Lahore. Pakistan's developers have achieved new renown thanks to games like “Whacksy Taxi”, which has become one of the most downloaded App Store games in 25 different countries, and other projects like “Stick Cricket”. Firms hold regular “game jams” in Lahore to attract innovators with competitions between young would-be game developers. Jobs at these companies are highly coveted by young people: the workday ends around 4pm, and employees often hang out together afterwards, literally playing games!

Mariam Adil is one of the dynamic women leading this new era of entrepreneurialism in Pakistan, perhaps the country's best-kept secret. While most of the world probably thinks of all Pakistani women as oppressed and chained down by society, there are dozens of bright women entrepreneurs managing incubators and programs in Pakistan today.

Adil is the founder of the Gaming Revolution for International Development (“GRID”), a game development startup that designs low-cost video games to simulate common issues in development fieldwork and teach development skills. Its game “Randomania” serves up scenarios that any development-sector professional can relate to and encourages policy decisions, showing the results of those decisions. Stereowiped, on the other hand, is a boundary-breaker when it comes to race and barriers of prejudice and is a great example of what social impact games can achieve.

Faisal Kapadia recently spoke to Adil about her work and much more.

Faisal Kapadia (FK): Why did you think of forming a company like the grid to solve issues when there is plenty of opportunity available for game developers commercially?

Mariam Adil (MA): Born out of pure inspiration, GRID hits at a niche market and gives me the flexibility to think creatively about pushing the boundaries of technology innovations for creating development solutions. It was less driven by a need to earn money and more by my passion for the idea.
FK: While developing Randomania did you do a lot of research on different situations faced by professionals in the development sector?

MA: My day job at the World Bank allows me to have my hand on the pulse. Having designed and implemented several Impact Evaluations, I am familiar with the challenges that practitioners face while designing randomized control trials. This perspective, put together with feedback from some very supportive colleagues at the World Bank allowed us to make sure Randomania could do justice to the challenges of rigorously evaluating development projects.
FK: What kind of impact do you think a game like Randomania can have? Does it lead to as a test case more cohesive thought or efficiency?

MA: In my opinion, there is a gap between the science of International Development taught to students and development practitioners, and the art of development practiced by professionals in the field. Until now, there have been few tools to bridge that gap – to provide the experiential learning required to practice complex decision-making, at a scale well beyond one to one interaction.

Games like Randomania offer a safe environment to simulate the effects of policies and understand the trade-offs involved in the decision-making process. With a push towards innovative use of technology in international development, and the effectiveness of games as learning tools, the stage is set for development games to be introduced as learning tools for development practitioners and students.

http://globalvoicesonline.org/2015/04/28/meet-the-woman-whos-revolutionizing-pakistans-gaming-industry/
Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan, the Next #software Hub? 1500 registered #informationtechnology companies, 10,000 IT grads every year. http://nyti.ms/1P0Yfdu

Pakistan’s I.T. sector is carving a niche for itself as a favored place to go for freelance I.T. programmers, software coders and app designers. There are now 1,500 registered I.T. companies in Pakistan, and 10,000 I.T. grads enter the market every year. Energetic members of the middle class educated in Pakistan’s top universities, they have honed their skills at the many hackathons, start-up fairs and expos, digital summits and entrepreneurial events at campuses, software houses and I.T. associations across the country.

Next comes showcasing their skills to a global market in order to grow businesses. So Pakistani freelance programmers flock to global freelance hiring sites such as Upwork, or fiverr.com, where digital employers in the United States, Australia or Britain bid to hire programmers for small software and app projects. On these platforms, hiring someone from Pakistan becomes as easy as hiring someone from Ireland or India, because traditional concerns about security, corruption and invasive bureaucracy in Pakistan do not apply.

The formula is working: the Pakistani programmers market ranks as the No. 3 country for supplying — freelance programmers — behind only the United States and India, and up from No. 5 just two years ago. It ranks in the upper 10 to 25 percent on Upwork’s listing of growth rates for top-earning countries, alongside India, Canada and Ukraine. Pakistan’s freelance programmers already account for $850 million of the country’s software exports; that number could go up to $1 billion in the next several months, says Umar Saif, who heads the Punjab I.T. Board and previously taught and did research work at M.I.T.

The optimism one hears in Karachi and Lahore even withstood a scandal last May, when news broke that Axact, one of Pakistan’s largest I.T. companies, was operating as a fake degree mill. Members of the tight-knit I.T. community reacted at first with fears for Pakistan’s chances to become a major player on the world’s I.T. stage. Perhaps those fears acted as a spur to the authorities, who arrested Axact’s chief within weeks after the scheme was laid bare.

In any event, three days after investigators raided Axact’s offices, Naseeb Networks International, a Lahore-based company that runs the online job marketplace Rozee.pk, announced that it had won a third round of investments, worth $6.5 million, from the European investment firms Vostok Nafta and Piton Capital, bringing the company’s total venture capital funding to $8.5 million. It was the latest in a series of large venture capital investments in Pakistan over the last year and a half.

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It’s now also faster and easier for foreign companies to acquire the apps these programmers create, in contrast with negotiating traditional service contracts, and Mr. Saif anticipates that such start-ups will themselves become targets for acquisition by overseas companies.

According to him, venture capital is the one missing ingredient in an enabling environment that the government, universities and software associations are building. Per Brilioth, the managing director of Vostok Nafta Investment, agrees. “The macro indicators and demographics are very strong,” he said, “and the country doesn't seem to get a lot of investor attention, so valuations are reasonable."

Those factors — and the rapidity with which Pakistan’s 200 million people are embracing the Internet on sub-$50 Chinese 3G smartphones — are markers on which Pakistan’s entrepreneurial leaders pin their hopes for the future. They see problems like Axact as bumps in the road as Pakistan builds a haven for I.T. development.

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/11/opinion/bina-shah-pakistan-the-next-software-hub.html?_r=0
Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan IT industry climbing up to no 3 to grab world attention with its freelancers http://www.thecitizen.in/index.php/OldNewsPage/?Id=6771&Pakistan%2FClimbs%2FUp%2FIT%2FLadder%2C%2FCatches%2FGlobal%2FAttention …

Pakistan’s tiny IT sector is carving out a niche for itself -- so much so that it has been the subject of several stories in international publications such as the New York Times, the Global Post, Al Jazeera, to name a few. Perhaps the interest is because of the obvious potential of the industry: There are now 1,500 registered IT companies in Pakistan, and 10,000 IT grads enter the market every year.

Perhaps even more significantly, the democratisation of demand as facilitated by the internet-era, has enabled Pakistan to climb up market ranks to become the No. 3 country for supplying freelance programmers, behind only the United States and India, and up from No. 5 just two years ago. This is because programmers in Pakistan can easily sign up to platforms such as Upwork or Fiverr, where the person hiring them is less interested in their location and more concerned with their skill. Because the programmer in Pakistan is using a third party platform, logistical, bureaucratic and other constraints that are typically associated with Pakistan, including corruption, do not apply.

As reported by The New York Times, Pakistan ranks in the upper 10 to 25 percent on Upwork’s listing of growth rates for top-earning countries, alongside India, Canada and Ukraine. Pakistan’s freelance programmers already account for $850 million of the country’s software exports; that number could go up to $1 billion in the next several months, says Umar Saif, who heads the Punjab IT Board and previously taught and did research work at M.I.T.

As reported by the Global Post, Pakistan’s software export industry employs some 24,000 people, according to government figures. Most companies in Pakistan’s IT sector — including mobile game studios — are growing at more than 30 percent a year, says Pakistan’s software industry trade body, P@SHA.

With success come challenges, and Pakistan’s nascent IT industry faced its first such challenge last May, when news broke that Axact, one of Pakistan’s largest IT companies, was operating as a fake degree mill. Authorities acted fast, arrested Axact’s chief within days, though the controversy did lead many to comment on whether the country’s IT industry stood a chance in the long-term.

That question was answered almost immediately, when just three days after the Axact controversy, Naseeb Networks International, a Lahore-based company that runs the online job marketplace Rozee.pk, announced that it had won a third round of investments worth $6.5 million, from the European investment firms Vostok Nafta and Piton Capital. The latest round of funding brought the company’s total venture capital funding to $8.5 million.

Or take the example of Caramel Tech Studios, a Pakistan-based mobile game startup that created the sensation “Fruit Ninja” for an Australian developer. Another such startup in Pakistan is Mindstorm Studios, maker of “Whacksy Taxi,” a racing game that topped Apple’s App Store in more than 25 countries.

And while constraints such as bureaucracy, shortage of land/space for offices, power shortages, et cetera remain a challenge, they are offset by positives, most importantly cost. “If we have a million dollars in the bank ... in the US we might only be able to make one and a half games, whereas here we might be able to make 10 games,” Saad Zaeem of Caramel Tech Studios told The Global Post, adding that graduates here are as qualified as Western ones and cost a lot less to employ, giving software startups a competitive advantage over high-wage Western countries.

Further, the rise of the mobile software market has been a huge gamechanger. “Prior to the iPhone …

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