Software Industry of Pakistan: Challenges & Opportunities


 By: Salman Junejo  Date: 2 August 2014
Software Industry of Pakistan: Challenges & Opportunities
There could be little doubt that a strong software industry for a country’s economy serves as an invaluable source of foreign revenue. Not only that but it caters to the local software needs as well as providing much needed employment.

Like other 3rd world developing countries, Pakistan possesses immense potential for a thriving & bourgeoning industry with mushroom growth. However it is marred by inconsistent Government policies, law and order situation of the country in general and an international image that acts as a major road block &deterrent.This hinders Pakistan to come in the folds of those countries such as India that are earning billions of dollars in foreign revenue when it comes to software export.

Here are some of the major challengers & potential opportunities with context to the software industry of Pakistan:

Challenges:


Rampant Piracy: Pakistan is one of the most pirated countries when it comes to software, weak Intellectual Property laws makes it almost impossible for any sort of regulation to be effectively put into implementation. This hinders& thus discourages large software companies to shift their business locally or to outsource their work since they are aware of the heavy software piracy penetration levels in Pakistan.

We can’t outright dismiss this problem as a “hazard” because we have to look at it with little more detail. Almost 70 % of the population of Pakistan can’t afford expensive software which runs into hundreds of dollars. Perhaps big software companies should introduce specially subsidized software price packaging scheme which will encourage the population to shift towards authentic software instead of using the pirated version.

This in future will subsequently, lead to increased overall confidence in Pakistan’s software industry to acquire more foreign software related business.

Lack of Quality Education: There are but a few educational institutes that can be counted on one’s finger that are providing up to date and quality education specifically related to this particular sector. (E.g. COMSATS, NUST etc.)

If we are to compete at an international level, with the likes of a graduate who has education from say M.I.T (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) or from Indian software engineers, we need to revamp the curriculum and build more quality oriented education institutes that are directly catering towards the software industry.

Again, this comes in priorities of The Government and how serious they are about this; as such project can potentially run into Billions of Rupees and only private-public sector financial backing can make this feasible.

Opportunities:


Software Development for Mobile Platforms (IOS & Android): Software development for mobile applications for primary platforms such as IOS and Android holds immense potential. As they are still in its nascent and embryotic stage, it has been less than half a decade since these (IOS, Android) became a predominant mobile software platform in terms of applications.

Pakistani software engineers and students alike can start to build applications, games & other software based programs for these platforms. Now billions of mobile devices such as smart phones, tablets along with their native applications compatibility and support are being used throughout the world.

Countries such as Vietnam and India are already investing heavily in this particular sector, we too are seeing some activity in this regards but it is still considered as a cottage industry, much can be achieved if we invest in this mobile software market.

Better Economies of Scale & Cheap Labor: According to Ministry of Labor, the labor market in Pakistan is still cheaper than India; it means better economies of scale for the software companies that want to tap this still untapped market and establish their offices in Pakistan.

According to Buying Triangle, LLC in 2006, the average US $ Cost per FTE (Full time employee) in USA was around $58,598 in India it was $ 11,854. Compared to that, Pakistan is still cheaper coming in at significantly lower at $9,000.

Improving internet infrastructure: As these days more and more software platforms are basing their systems and origins on the cloud based systems and servers, the importance of better and all the time internet connectivity has increased. Luckily while Pakistan per capita average internet connectivity is still low, it is increasing at a rapid scale. Moreover, with the recent implementation of 3g & 4g LTE (Long Term Evolution) in Pakistan, it will only increase in the few coming years.

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