IT projects to be outsourced to local firms, says minister
ISLAMABAD, April 5: Minister for Information Technology Awais Ahmad Khan Leghari on Tuesday said the government would outsource mega IT projects like federal data centre project and e-procurement in the public sector to local software companies.
“The government is working aggressively to create demand in the IT sector and will soon identify 15 to 20 key public services to outsource them to local companies which could then charge the government a certain price per transaction,” Minister Leghari said, while speaking at a function organized by the Pakistan Software Export Board (PSEB).
The function was organized to give away CMMI/ISO certificates to 28 IT companies. With the award of 25 ISO certificates and three CMMI certificates in this latest round, the number of Pakistani companies having been awarded ISO/CMMI certification has touched 100 compared to approximately 130 such companies in India.
ISO 9001 is the de facto standard of quality across the globe, while CMMI (capability maturity model integration) is the process framework developed by the Carnegie Melon University in collaboration with the US Department of Defence, and is considered a requirement in all major software tenders floated in the US.
Quality can only be sustained in the IT sector through a consistent supply of quality human resource which has emerged as a major issue in recent years, he said.
The information technology ministry has set up a research and development fund worth over Rs3 billion to train young IT professionals to fill three to four basic skill areas required by the industry. The programme would be implemented in consultation with the industry which would be requested to pinpoint areas that could absorb such trained human resource.
Mr Leghari said a sizable amount of the R&D Fund was also being set aside to be used as seed money for the upcoming venture, capital fund, that would aim at providing financial assistance in launching innovative projects in the IT sector.
Venture capital fund would be used solely by the private sector with no inference from the government. The mechanism and framework for the fund was being prepared through international level consultancy, he said.
The minister admitted that IT companies were short of space to set up and expand their operations in major urban centres such as Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad, adding that the ministry of information technology itself had tasked Nespak to construct in Islamabad a structure offering one million square feet space for setting up offices. The Dubai Internet City is also being wooed to set up a separate echo-system in Islamabad for which it would be provided land at subsidized rates.
Later talking to reporters, Mr Leghari said the country’s IT industry was hugely under-estimated and the $48 million IT export figures recorded last year no way reflected on the size of the industry that had grown enormously in the last few years.
He said the industry, according to rough estimates, was worth more than $100 million, but the realistic size of the industry would be determined within the next four to six weeks his ministry was planning to use to acquire correct revenue figures and export proceeds data from the IT companies.
There are five to six national IT companies boasting a workforce of 2,000 each and many more with 500-600 workforce size compared to three to four years ago when the number of companies with 300-400 workforce was less than few.
The minister said the Pakistan Steel privatization had been concluded in a smooth manner and the reports of its being underpaid were not correct.