P@SHA ICT Awards: IT gets its one night of positives but a difficult year lies ahead

Published: October 8, 2011

In what was a positive year for the information, communication technology (ICT) industry of Pakistan, foreign and domestic challenges point towards a difficult time ahead. PHOTO: sxc.hu

KARACHI: In what was a positive year for the information, communication technology (ICT) industry of Pakistan, foreign and domestic challenges point towards a difficult time ahead.

It was then not surprising when Naseer Akhtar, the CEO of Infotech, urged the gathered industry bigwigs at the 8th P@SHA ICT awards on Thursday at Sheraton hotel to set a strategic goal of exceeding the five-billion-dollar revenue target for fiscal year 2011-2012.

“The industry is growing at an organic pace and we need to step that up with some goals to grow faster and strategically,” said Akhtar. “I am setting one goal, tentatively, of reaching the $5 billion mark by 2015.”

The awards, which were already under a cloud given the untimely demise of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs on the morning of the function, continued its pre-set course of a night full of fun and music, albeit with an emotional tribute to the legendary technology innovator.

Microsoft and Nokia, two of the sponsors for the awards, both commended the progress Pakistan had made in the field of IT over the past years, despite the lack of support from the government which neither helped with seed money nor created a conducive environment for clients to come in.

“The quality of work from Pakistan is phenomenal and we have proved ourselves globally, “ remarked Microsoft’s Tahir Masood.

Both Microsoft and Nokia were full of praise for how Pakistani products had not only competed in the international market, but proved that they were among the best. Nokia revealed that despite their dismal forecast of 100,000 apps being downloaded, Pakistanis downloaded over a million applications from Nokia in September 2011 alone, with some apps developed in the country doing very well worldwide.

“We have been conducting a lot of competitions in Pakistan and the some of the apps have done really well globally,” said the Nokia representative.

However, despite the international recognition that the industry has received this year, some were more pessimistic than optimistic, with Mustafa Paracha of Wi-Tribe saying that piracy remained a major issue that threatened the local industry. “We offered subscribers premiere security software for Rs100 to Rs150 extra on top of their monthly bill, but people did not buy it as they preferred to go with a pirated copy,” he explained.

The silver lining to the event could be that the National Information Communication Technology Research and Development fund has promised to work harder and expedite proposal processing and make seed capital available much sooner.

In its eighth year, the Pakistan Software Houses Association (P@SHA) received a record number of entries with 110 applications in 33 categories showing the creativity and depth the local software industry has developed.

The awards were given to those involved in key aspects of business development and management ranging from financials, e-Government, communications, environment conservation, education, security, community, health, mobile applications as well as research and development.

The awards chose to recognise local start-ups and innovative tertiary student projects. Students from NED University and the National University of Science and Technology (NUST) were winners and runners-up. However the pick of the winners remained the Islamabad-based Centre for Advanced Research in Engineering (CARE) which won in three categories.

Also of note was the growth of collaborative projects between local companies as two awards, in the industrial applications and the financial applications categories went to projects created by collaborations between local firms.

The winners in the product categories will now be accompanying the P@SHA delegation to the Asia Pacific ICT Awards 2011, a regional ICT platform where Pakistan won 11 awards last year.

Umar Cheema, who had been featured on a Massachusetts Institute of Technology innovators list, was due to present a keynote address at the awards, however he cancelled at the last minute due to some engagement.

Some of the winners:

Digital Media & Entertainment Applications

Product: Angry Monkey, GeniTeam Pvt Limited

E-Government Applications

Product: National Air Space Management System (NASMS)

Center for Advanced Research in Engineering (CARE)

E-Learning Applications

Product: Toffeetv.com, Toffee TV

Best Mobile Application

Product: The Photo Editor

Five Rivers Technologies – Pepper.pk

Best in Start-Up Companies

Product: Venture Dive, ShopHoller

* This is not a complete list

Published in The Express Tribune, October 8th, 2011.

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Reader Comments (23)

  • Hasan Zuberi
    Oct 8, 2011 - 2:34AM

    Following is the complete list of Categories and the winners:
    – Digital Media and Entertainment Application: Geniteam Pvt Limited;
    – E-government Application: Center for Advance Research in Engineering (CARE); Research and Development Application: Tunacode Pvt Ltd.;
    – Industrial Application: Evamp & Saanga; Tools & Infrastructure Application: Center for Advance Research in Engineering (CARE);
    – E-logistics & Supply Chain Management Application: Lumensoft Pvt. Ltd;
    – E-learning Application: Toffee Tv; Security Applications: Center for Advance Research in Engineering (CARE);
    – Financial Applications: Infotech Pvt. Ltd;
    – E-Health Application: Center for Advance Research in Engineering (CARE);
    – E-Inclusion & E-Community Application: GoGreen Campaign by Farhan Masood Runners Up: EMAN initiative by Engro Foods & Orix Leasing Pakistan;
    – Best Mobile Application: Five Rivers Technologies — Pepper.pk ;
    – Best in Start-up Companies: Shopholler;
    – Best Tertiary Student Project: Institute of Space Technlogy — Syed Akhlaq Hussian Shah;
    – Best Tertiary Student Project: Ned University —Moneeb Ahmed Usmani & Team;
    – Best in Managed Services: Access Group;
    – Best Innovative HR Practices: TRG Pakistan for Genius Hunt – a joint initiative with High IQ society Mensa Pakistan;
    – Best in Service Innovation: Interactive Group of Companies;
    – CIO of the Year — Public Sector: Anwar Amjed, HEC;
    – CIO of the year — Private Sector: Ayaz Ahmed, CIO, HBL

    Recommend

  • S Qureshi
    Oct 8, 2011 - 9:42AM

    Congratulation to all the winners. Pakistan is proud of you. Please keep up the good work guys & gals.

    R.I.P Steve Jobs. And Thank you for all you have given to the people of the world. We will miss you.

    Recommend

  • maz3tt
    Oct 8, 2011 - 1:57PM

    Good event enjoyed it. Well i think government should stand up and start supporting the software industry which is really very important . Where there is you can feel the difference. .

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  • Ali
    Oct 8, 2011 - 3:16PM

    Having awards and such industry competitions is a good thing. My only pain being the low bar we set for ourselves. While I can name a few Indian products doing fairly well internationally, I cant think of even one Pakistani – yet the holla holla we sing on the quality of the pakistani entrepreneurs and the products in such conferences makes be think (foolishly) that we have 10x Mark Zumbergs amongst us.

    Recommend

  • Witribe_Really
    Oct 8, 2011 - 4:56PM

    “We offered subscribers premiere security software for Rs100 to Rs150 extra on top of their monthly bill, but people did not buy it as they preferred to go with a pirated copy,” he explained.”

    This guy is living in fools paradise. Everyone uses AVG free antivirus. Why should one have to pay an extra 100 – 150 bucks when there are free alternatives.

    @Ali I agree with you. Bar is too low. In Russia, Eastern Europe and China people are making amazing softwares that is far batter then shown at ICT awards. This must be fun event but. Because in Pakistan these days there is no good news.Recommend

  • NA
    Oct 8, 2011 - 7:04PM

    This award ceremony was not more than praising friends, sponsors and colleagues. It doesn’t reflect true talent of Pakistan.

    The perception building around about this award is creating doubts about the people and organizer behind. The way they’re honoring friend and colleague really affecting the local small IT industry.

    People here are already working in very tough conditions and nobody trust Pakistan and this all award game was just piece of crap.

    If they really want to honor people and this industry then find the real talent and products which really did something for this industry.

    Thank You

    p.s I’ve posted the same comment on Propakistani blog and today was reading the tribune blog and got the same story so thought to share here as well.

    Recommend

  • NA
    Oct 8, 2011 - 7:09PM

    @Witribe_Really this was just a commercial show and wi-tribe guy was selling their Antivirus services and instead of thinking whats wrong with their offer they blame piracy. What an insane excuse!

    Do I look insane to pay 150 extra for online virus service where I can get many free AV as well as license of Kaspersky in few thousand which is no doubt one of the best AV.Recommend

  • Aamir
    Oct 8, 2011 - 11:52PM

    Good job…hope Pakistan IT industry continues to grow.

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  • Naseem
    Oct 9, 2011 - 2:36AM

    FIRST late timings, Respectfully saying dear Jehan Ara always heard complaining and lecturing about value of time in what she is really true but in her show/award it was 1 hour late, 1 hour wasted outta 3 hours. Value of time of others was (*ponka) but It was overall good show, and we should appreciate this event , yes as always Awards gone to favorite personals but what is new here? why are we shouting about. nothing new at all, all of us forgot Rehman M. bhai and Babar Bhai also awarded…who doesnt know about them and their performance ?? but they were award reason we all know very well, this is same at small scale ,
    If award was given to talent then how this would be arranged? sponsors are businessman they want something in return, Pakistan IT is small industry and they can’t just give away millions like this… recent example witribe, I am user of wiTribe and it’s really worst but that guy was literally selling Manjan as per part of marketing,
    in nutshell , THIS IS BAD START OF NICE THINGRecommend

  • naseem
    Oct 9, 2011 - 3:58AM

    FIRST late timings, Respectfully saying dear Jehan Ara always heard complaining and lecturing about value of time in what she is really true but in her show/award it was 1 hour late, 1 hour wasted outta 3 hours. Time values of others was (*ponka) but It was overall good show, and we should appreciate this event , yes as always Awards gone to favorite personals but what is new here? why are we shouting about. nothing new at all, all of us forgot Rehman M. bhai and Babar Bhai also awarded…who doesnt know about them and their performance ?? but they were award reason we all know very well, this is same at small scale ,
    If award was given to talent then how this would be arranged? sponsors are businessman they want something in return, Pakistan IT is small industry and they can’t just give away millions like this… recent example witribe, I am user of wiTribe and it’s really worst but that guy was literally selling Manjan as per part of marketing,
    in nutshell , THIS IS BAD START OF NICE THINGRecommend

  • NA
    Oct 9, 2011 - 4:11AM

    Aamir how IT industry can grow with all topi drama and rewarding friends and colleagues? Could you please give some light on your statement :)

    Recommend

  • Rasheed
    Oct 10, 2011 - 2:44AM

    Well I read same post about ICT OSCAR on ProPakistani and 1 of friend showed some shocking thing, thanks to his quick research , Its about e-taleem
    Award was awared to ToffeeTV.com where as Ilmkidunya.com has more page rankings globally and even in Pakistani Rank
    Here what i did on Alexa,

    toffeeTV.com
    Global Rank : 1,067,350
    Pk Rank : 26,590
    Site Links : 5

    ilmkidunya.com
    Global Rank : 16,923
    Pk Rank: 125
    Site Links : 328
    ToffeeTV is run by Rabia Ghareeb , she is good friend of Jehan Ara,
    Someone please clear us on which criteria , what are the basic rules or guidelines to get into real competition and what unique or creative poing causes you the medal in neck ?(hope not FAVORITISM )
    If yes then how this lovely tech based industry will grow if Giants are eating new talent before they are into mainstream. And expecting such things from IT related personal is really disappointing! If it was done by our lovely ministers then it could be justify by iteself, but .. .. …
    Allah sab ko naik hidyat de and apni zaat se agay ka sochnay ki toffeek dai. AmeenRecommend

  • Oct 10, 2011 - 7:29PM

    I read the above comments and I realize why Pakistan can’t get anywhere in the world. Most of us act like crabs pulling each other down.

    Great Job Jehan Ara and P@SHA as always…. Ignore the haters and keep serving the good cause… Pay no attention to what the critics say. A statue has never been erected in honor of a critic….

    Recommend

  • Oct 10, 2011 - 7:48PM

    If you didnt get it than it was fixed, unfair, and favoritism; for God sake we have seen this after almost every election now dont bring this to software industry if this award has no value ij your opinion than why ranting over it. If you people think that you diserve the award better than prove it with your work rather than rants.
    P@SHA and Jehan Ara mam atleast took initiative to provide a platform where government dont even offer grass to the ICT mazdoor.
    Great job done PASHA and Ma’am Jehan Ara. And hatters please get some life.

    Recommend

  • Oct 10, 2011 - 7:58PM

    tremendous work done by P@SHA and the entire team of Jehan Ara.
    Kudos to you all.

    Congratulations to all the winners and runners up and a round of applause for all who nominated for the Awards as their attempts are commendable.
    You people are a ray of hope for the future of our country.

    May God bless you and bestow you more energy and passion to do more for the betterment and development of our motherland, Pakistan.

    Long Live P@SHA, Long Live Pakistan.

    Recommend

  • Oct 10, 2011 - 8:41PM

    Despite the fact we actually WON THE FIRST PRIZE let me speak neutrally about the awards. It was CRAP…….Toooooo much noise pollution, senseless pictures and clipart we all have seen ages ago…….no lights before the even the start of the show….late show..and mostly everything for the PASHA LIFTING close families and friends…Recommend

  • Oct 10, 2011 - 8:45PM

    For all the people who are criticizing “P@sha” & “Jehan Ara” for being Biased, I have only 1 thing to say Bachay “Angoor Khatay Hen” :)

    ~PEACE

    Recommend

  • Zia Imran
    Oct 10, 2011 - 9:30PM

    @Ali:

    Really, please watch the press a bit more carefully bro.

    Mixit Technologies sold to UK Investors for $25 million.

    GameView Studios selling its mobile gaming operation to DeNA for reportedly tens of millions of dollars. DeNA, the Japanese video game/content joint now planning to hire more than 500 engineers in Pakistan this year alone.

    MindStorm Studios winning the bid to make the official on-line cricket game for the official ICC Web Site.

    Small work, low bar for some, world class stuff for others. Let’s be proud of what we have got.

    Recommend

  • Zia Imran
    Oct 10, 2011 - 9:37PM

    @NA:

    seems like everyone is having a go at P@SHA and Jehan Ara.

    But let’s do the numbers.

    The companies that win at P@SHA ICT Awards go on to participate in annual APICTA conference where judges from more than 10+ Asian countries rate companies that participate from APICTA member economies.

    Last year 5 Pakistani companies won 6 Awards at APICTA. All the APICTA winners from Pakistan had won in their category at the annual P@SHA ICT Awards.

    There can’t be a more neutral, independent and competitive benchmark for the quality of P@SHA awards than APICTA. BTW APICTA includes economies like Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand among others.

    Be fair my friend.

    Recommend

  • Zia Imran
    Oct 10, 2011 - 10:27PM

    It seems like everyone is having a go at P@SHA and Jehan Ara.

    But let’s do the numbers.

    The companies that win at P@SHA ICT Awards go on to participate in annual APICTA conference where judges from more than 10+ Asian countries rate companies that participate from APICTA member economies.

    Last year 5 Pakistani companies won 6 Awards at APICTA. All the APICTA winners from Pakistan had won in their category at the annual P@SHA ICT Awards.

    There can’t be a more neutral, independent and competitive benchmark for the quality of P@SHA awards than APICTA. BTW APICTA includes economies like Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand among others.

    Be fair.

    Recommend

  • Oct 11, 2011 - 9:51AM

    Dear Friends

    I think we all are confused here as most of us havent ever participated in any international competition. Let me share you how it works with my winning experience at 3 P@SHA ICT Awards, 2 APICTA Awards and many others won in other countries.

    Presentation Skills of a presenter count a lot in winning a competition. These competitions are the preparation of the IT industry to face a venture capitalist in future, so it is important who presents the product, how easy it was to comprehend, its market size has to have a potential, its uniqueness in terms of had anyone done anything similar before in your area, its financial model and a lot more other factors.

    A product may be good but it may loose due to a weaker presentation. The judges in P@SHA are few of the judges from APICTA, they shouldnt be wrong otherwise Pakistani companies should never win in Asia Pacific ICT Awards.

    Please keep your cool, and I appreciate a lot of love you have spread for me. Me smiling in front of Indians and saying you are funny, when they say any thing against Pakistan is just to save a useless argument. I am a peace lover and here I rest my case.

    Recommend

  • Optimist
    Oct 12, 2011 - 12:33AM

    As pointed out in some of other comments too, if P@SHA ICT awards were so biased, Pakistan wouldn’t have bagged 7 Awards in APICTA last year; or you think Jehan Ara has got friends in APICTA Jury too who make sure to award just her bunch of friends without considering what others from the entire Asia Pacific region present?

    For all the cynics out there, this post says it all:
    http://startup.riskreviews.net/2011/10/11/the-psha-ict-awards-debate/

    Recommend

  • Asif Shah
    Oct 13, 2011 - 4:50PM

    @Rasheed: kindly get your facts right before pointing fingers at people who are doing something positive in this country, for your information ilmkidunya, is nothing like toffeetv.

    Recommend

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