Local Manufacturing in IT Industry

made_in_pakistanRecently, the Aakash tablet was launched in India with the help of the Indian Government. It’s currently the cheapest tablet in the world and it’s available at reduced rates to students and academic institutions.

It isn’t without its faults but the question is why we can’t come up with such a product ourselves? Children in rural areas could benefit tremendously from such a product. So why doesn’t anyone step up?

The current situation in the country is bad, inflation is rising and the spending power of the people is on the decline. This furthers the importance of State assisted production which facilitates and caters the demands of people with low-price and high quality products.

Let’s stop looking over foreign manufacturers to set up their plans on our soil, they have their reasons for not hitting Pakistan – whatever they are, why can’t we do it ourselves? Maybe we can start with small projects that definitely mature in next few years. We should start something at least.

But there is no initiative from the government on this front. Governments like India recognize that technology is crucial in order for a country to move forward. The crowning achievement of the Aakash tablet in my opinion isn’t just the price; it is that the entire production takes place in India. And with 3 lakh orders already placed, it brings jobs into the country. Its time for our government should take cues from the neighbor.

Just one thing they could do is recognize that there are a huge number of students who are currently enrolled in technical degrees like engineering and the job market is in a slump. Once they graduate, they’re going to have a pretty tough time. The enthusiasm of the youth is what we need.

The government should introduce policies and programs to mentor and help young entrepreneurs amongst these graduates instead of letting them get embittered. Because these people are the ones who are more equipped to innovate and come up with radical ideas and products. If there’s one thing we know, it’s that our students are capable of holding their own against anyone. Financially backing innovative ideas through schemes would benefit everybody.

No, National Research and Development Fund isn’t enough. The scope of fund and how it is being used, rather I would say being sabotaged by a group of few, it isn’t providing sufficient platforms that will enable us with product manufacturing ability.

I know a few people who came up with great ideas for products but ideas were all they remained. When I enquired as to why they didn’t convert their ideas into products, they said it wasn’t cost effective.

In the current economic climate, loans are hard to get and then there’s always the risk when undertaking a venture that it might not payoff. Also, with people preferring Chinese alternatives if their budget is low and going for more reputable brands if they can afford them, they were priced out. They couldn’t afford to sell their products as cheap as the Chinese ones and if their prices were higher, people would just choose a reputable brand.

The reason is because the middle class in the true sense of the expression doesn’t exist anymore. The lower classes have other priorities and the upper class doesn’t have an issue with getting things no matter what the price.

The consumers aren’t doing themselves any favors either. Most of the stuff that’s locally produced; lets take computer peripherals for example, are of flimsy quality. An average customer would rather pay 300 for a substandard keyboard which would last 4 months and buy a new one when its malfunctions rather than buy one that costs 600 even if it’s advertised to last for a year with warranty.

So if the lower quality keyboards are giving a local manufacturer more profit, they won’t improve quality since there is a “kam chal raha hai to chalai jao” kind of attitude prevalent in the country. Even if a company comes up with a good product, its popularity remains local. Product oriented companies don’t tend to market their products for a national audience and that’s a thing they have to consider if they want to make it big.

When a company starts, of course they try to minimize costs while maximizing revenue. It might just be cheaper for them to import things rather than go for a local supplier. But in a job climate like ours we need to keep jobs in Pakistan and if some encouragement to do so is needed then the government needs to step in.

Vendors need to promote local products and local manufacturing companies need to improve their products to an extent that customers are compelled to buy them. The journey for a good local manufacturing industry in IT industry is in no ways an easy one. But that doesn’t mean the journey shouldn’t be undertaken.

Talal is the Editor in Chief at ProPakistani. Reach out at [email protected]