The under construction Sheikh Zayed complex in Lahore

The under construction Sheikh Zayed complex in Lahore

Doesn’t that headline just put a smile on your face? You’re not the only one. It’s great to see that the significant human effort augmented by billions of dollars invested in Pakistan’s IT infrastructure and skill-development are bearing tangible fruit. There are several areas where Pakistan is leading the pack already, and others where it is threatening to.

  1. Pakistan is the most connected country in South Asia, with the highest teledensity
  2. Pakistan’s communications costs are lower than any other country in the region
  3. Pakistan has the world’s largest biometric database (NADRA); this system (not the data)  is now being provided to allied countries
  4. Pakistan has the world’s largest WiMAX network
  5. Pakistan has one of the world’s most aggressive Fibre-to-the-Home (FTTH) rollouts
  6. Pakistan has one of the highest rates of cellular connectivity growth in the world (According to PTA 2007′s report the rate of growth in Pakistan’s mobile sector is fourth highest in the world)
  7. Pakistan was the winner of the 2007 GSM industry association award
  8. The US is importing UAVs designed and built in Pakistan to protect America’s borders
  9. With WLL (CDMA), WiMAX, GSM and FTTH, Pakistan is pretty much leading the pack in terms of diversity and breadth of connectivity
  10. According to Gartner, Pakistan is a “first category” offshoring location; this ranking has grown by leaps and bounds
  11. Pakistani companies won several awards at Asia’s APICTA startup/innovation conference and were considered the most “interesting” and cutting edge in Asia
  12. The world’s youngest Microsoft Certified Professional is a Pakistani and so if the world’s youngest Cisco CCNA professional
  13. Pakistani students excelled in MIT’s global software talent competition
  14. Citations of Pakistani scientific publications are rising sharply
  15. Over two dozen Pakistani scientists are working on the Large Hadron Collider; the grandest experiment in the history of Physics

And I tire listing all of these out… there are so many more. The point is that the Pakistani IT industry is rapidly developing and this is most definitely an area where significant progress is being made, damning all the torpedoes and naysayers. Pretty exciting on its own, right? But progress  in IT doesn’t just mean progress in IT. It means a vibrant economy, better healthcare through Telemedicine, increased efficiency in government through record automation (e.g. land records project), a more effective defence, increased outreach for higher education and much more.

Technology is a transformational vehicle for our society. And we’re just now starting to see the impact. Many times, progress in specific areas will appear slow, but in part that is explained by the exponential curves normally associated with technology adoption. When you start small, high growth rates aren’t ‘visible on the ground’ for the first few months or years because the overall numbers remain small. But this changes when you hit the knee of the curve, at which point things are fundamentally transformed and are altered for ever.

In Pakistan, these transformations have occurred in many areas already, and will continue to occur in numerous others. Frankly, I just consider myself lucky to be around to watch the awesome progress unfold!

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