KARACHI: Microsoft Pakistan is developing a national connectivity plan to help Islamabad increase broadband penetration across the country, hoping to benefit from increased use of information and communications technology (ICT) in the long term, The Express Tribune has learnt.
Connectivity, low broadband penetration to be more specific, is one of the main challenges of doing business in Pakistan, according to MS Pakistan’s Country Manager Amir Rao. “This is a challenge we are facing as a nation,” Rao told The Express Tribune on the sidelines of a Private Cloud Immersion session for the media at the company’s Karachi office recently.
“There are only about 2.4 million broadband subscriptions in Pakistan against 35 million K12 [from kindergarten to 12th grade] students in the country,” he said.
Responding to a question, Rao said Pakistan doesn’t come in the top 10 markets for the software giant. This, however, tells that there is a huge opportunity for infrastructure growth at the same time. “That said, we should be in the top 10 markets,” he said.
Pakistan has a large tech-savvy population with a massive youth base, which will drive future growth, Rao said, expressing the company’s belief in the country. “We are working on a national connectivity plan for broadband growth. We will share it with the next government,” he said.
Refusing to share specific details, Rao said their plan will guide the government on how it can enhance connectivity across the country that will contribute to economic growth.
Referring to a World Bank study, he pointed out that a 10% increase in broadband penetration can contribute an additional 1.3% to gross domestic product (GDP) growth for middle and low-income economies. “We would like Islamabad to increase its broadband penetration by at least 20%, which can correspond to a 2% increase in the GDP,” he said.
MS Pakistan’s interest in broadband proliferation is understandable. As the use of software and technology increases with the number of Pakistani companies and individuals depending on IT as part of their everyday life, MS believes, the company is poised to thrive even more over the coming years.
Besides offices in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad, which serve as its bases of major commercial activity, MS Pakistan has a huge ecosystem of partners that take its products to end users, according to Rao.
The software giant has partnered with Japan-based hardware provider Fujitsu to launch its cloud services recently, a move to expand its share in the market where technology adoption is still very low.
With more businesses adopting technology, Oracle and SAP, other leading software vendors, are also pushing to expand their financial arm in the software market. Enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions, according to Rao, is one area where competition is rising.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 20th, 2013.
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