Frontier plans to establish IT center -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Frontier plans to establish IT center

PESHAWAR – The NWFP government has abolished the Peshawar Software Technology Park and Information Technology cell projects. Officials say that the software business is not viable under current circumstances in the province.

After abolishing the software park and the IT cell, the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal government is planning to set up a centre of excellence for IT to produce skilled manpower. NWFP Minister for Science and Technology Hussain Ahmad Kanju, talking to Dawn, said that the software project was abandoned due to non-availability of professionals and experts.

He said that the Information Technology cell which was set up by the previous military government had also been abolished and excluded from the next annual development programme.

The previous government had set up a software technology park at a rented building in Hayatabad township in 2001 and its main objective was to attract foreign investment in the province.

The former adviser to the governor on science and technology, Dr Lutfullah Kakakhel, who also headed the cell said that the park was set up to promote IT culture and attract foreign investment.

“We have very negative approach towards science and technology that is why the IT culture cannot flourish in our society,” Mr. Kakakhel said, adding that it was very difficult to convince non-professionals about IT.

After commencing the project, seven companies established software houses in the park, set up at the defunct Peshawar Development Authority’s building. According to the memorandum of understanding the provincial government provided building infrastructure to the companies, while the federal ministry of science and technology was to provide digital cross connection on subsidised rate.

Officials, while blaming bureaucracy for the failure of the project said that the whole concept collapsed due to lack of interest and coordination between the provincial and the federal governments.

They said that internet connections were not provided to the companies at the software houses, although the federal government was bound to do so. Even the federal ministry of science and technology had yet to release funds for the project.

On the other hand, the City Development and Municipal Department also used tactics to discourage investors to leave the premises. Recently, the software companies vacated the building as some of them had been accommodated in the Special Development Unit building in the provincial secretariat.

Mr. Kanju said that the previous government initiated software park without any plan and homework. He said that after winding up the information technology cell the provincial government established the department of science and technology. He said that two IT parks were already functioning in the country so it might not be feasible to run the IT park in Peshawar.

He said that the directorate of information technology and science technology and the Centre of Excellence of Information Technology would be established during the next financial year.

He further said that the ministers for science and technology from the four provinces would meet in Lahore on June 10 before holding meeting with federal minister for information technology Owais Leghari in Islamabad on Friday. The provincial ministers would discuss various projects with the federal minister, he added.
Source: Dawn
Date:6/9/2004