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Tuesday, 17 September, 2002, 16:50 GMT 17:50 UK
Pakistan claims technology progress
Computer user
A virtual university has been set up to promote computer courses
Pakistan has long been eager to develop an information technology industry, much like neighbouring India has done.

Rising costs in developed countries have significantly increased software development outsourcing in recent years, enabling other countries, especially those in Asia, to tap into the offshore market.

So far Pakistan has not been able to secure any significant share of the global software business.

But Pakistan's Information Minister, Nisar Memon, told the BBC's World Business Report building up the sector has been one of the government's priorities and progress is now being made.

"So far the Pakistan government has already improved [the industry's] structure, all the telephones in the country are digital, we have fibre optics," he said.

And Mr Memon said internet services are now available across the country.

Attracting investment

One problem holding Pakistan back is the lack of skilled workers available to the industry.

Experts estimate the country needs at least 60,000 computer science graduates to allow it to compete on the global market.

The government has set up a virtual university course to encourage interest in the sector.

Mr Memon said there has been a great response to the course and many other universities and colleges offer similar training so the reservoir of skilled workers is growing.

Until now the government has provided most of the funding needed to build up the sector but Mr Memon said the country's progress was attracting local and foreign investors.

"They see the environment, there is an enabling environment under which IT operates, and there is an English speaking workforce in Pakistan which is what the world needs."

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 ON THIS STORY
Nisar Memon, Pakistan's Information Minister
"We have internet facilities available along the length and breadth of the country"
See also:

13 May 02 | Science/Nature
09 May 02 | Business
17 Jan 02 | Business
23 Nov 01 | Business
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