Archive for the ‘Economy/Business’ Category

The lost German connection

Lufthansa plans to cease flying to Pakistan

Lufthansa plans to cease flying to Pakistan

Lufthansa plans to stop its Pakistan operations meaning that flights between Lahore and Frankfurt will be no more :(

Loot Sale: Business Closed, Last Chance

Yesterday, while walking down the usual zig zag of streets from bus stop to my flat, I was thinking randomly about inflation, cost of living, job security, stock markets, dollar price,  Zardari, Lawyers Movement, Bajour, Baluchistan etc. etc.  Then suddenly I came across this banner….

Last Chance, Last Price, Below Purchase Price, Shop has been sold, Business Gone Broke

Banner in Urdu Reads: Last Chance, Last Price, Below Purchase Price, Shop has been sold, Business Gone Broke

This banner per see looks like just another business trick. But If you look closely and try to read between the lines. This banner becomes a satire, a commentary at current state of affairs in this country. It describes in very few words the political, economical and moral dilemma being faced by us.

I invite you to elaborate through your comments on each/any expression(s) on the banner you can relate to…

P@sha’s Career Fair

Pakistan Software Houses Association (P@sha) is bringing an IT career expo Lahore after arranging such events at Karachi and Rawalpindi successfully this year.

The scheduled event details are as follows:

Date: Sunday, August 24, 2008

Time: 9am to 6pm

Venue: Avari, Lahore

For further information and queries, please visit Jehan Ara’s web-place or the event’s page on Facebook.

Organizers are bringing a bunch lot of Information Technology companies based in and around Lahore including NetSol Technologies, InfoTech, VahZay and internationally renowned firms like Intel and IBM this time.

Following the career expo will be held the volume next of previous year’s super charged Startup Insiders 11; a session to inspire, encourage and support entrepreneurship among passionate individuals with sharp and innovative brains.

So, just be there!! ;)

It is the Stock Exchange for the time being

Yesterday’s situation in Pakistan’s stock exchanges was no different from each day during the last four months that saw the markets plunge consistently resulting in the main Karachi bourse losing more than 30% of its value.

LSE protests
Protestors burning tires outside the LSE – Daily Times

Angry small investors went on rampage in the Karachi Stock Exchange demanding the closure of market for a few days to curb its slide. Scenes were a bit calmer in Lahore where a crowd protested outside the Lahore Stock Exchange building by burning tires and shouting slogans against the regulators and the big players.

This grim situation follows the failure of the new coalition government in tackling rising food & oil prices, electricity shortages and burgeoning trade & budget deficits triggering mindless inflation and depreciating the Pakistani Rupee to record lows against the US Dollar.

All this is happening when the country is facing a huge security threat on its western borders from the militants and NATO forces as its cities are no better safe from street-crimes, robberies and bomb blasts. Amidst all this lawlessness and chaos, our leaders seem to be least concerned when they are visiting their ‘families’ abroad leaving no person of strength and character in authority behind in the country.

I’ve never beeen pessimistic about my country’s situation but this has to be sorted. People in authority need, I repeat, desperately need to become serious in tackling the country’s problems. People in the north-west are Pakistanis, they need to be heard not bombarded upon; Balochistan deserves its gas-royalties and Sui itself should be supplied with gas; Thar coal should be exploited to create a mega-pool of electricity supply which can provide at least 20,000 MW of electricity by using only 2% of the reserves over the next 20 years.

Forget the judges, forget the president, yes, I mean it! Focus on the core issues, the main problems of the masses and the industrialists alike for poverty can only be elevated if industry flourishes.

Bring peace, bring food, bring prosperity, bring unity – only this is what has elected you guys to the seats of power and the failure in bringing what will pull you down. We have seen the violence at the Stock Exchanges; I’m afraid it’s not that hard to imagine when it comes to the streets soon…

Can we solve the energy crisis?

The sleepless nights and disruption to daily routine through load-shedding has come to be known as business as usual in Pakistan. Over the years however, the realms of what is normal in terms of duration has been pushed to the limit with the country experiencing up to 10-hour electricity and gas load-shedding – an unprecedented level. My sympathies go out to the people who have to bear this experience alongside soaring mercury levels (up to 50 degrees celsius). Thanks to a series of broken promises and sheer mismanagement by the rulers, there doesn’t seem to be any short term solution nor a long term commitment to solve this problem.

It doesn’t take much to conclude that the existing scenario is essentially due to some of the following factors (in no particular order):

1. Uncontrolled population explosion
2. Rising Middle Class with more energy needs
3. Unchanged power infrastructure
4. Inefficient management of power authorities
5. Lack of vision and investment by the Government

Add to the above a consistently unstable political framework and massive levels of illiteracy, any solution not only seems very daunting but downright impossible for the next few years. So what can be done to break this vicious (and self-sustaining) cycle. Considering the indispensability of energy to the future growth needs of the country, a clear vision and plan needs to be drawn up and an unwavering commitment by people and rulers to the process of rolling out the goods regardless of political affiliation.

Based on geological analysis, it is evident that the most pragmatic and sustainable solutions would involve adding multi giga-watt capacity through coal and hydropower based projects. According to research, Pakistan sits on top of the world’s 8th largest reserves of coal and is also home to one of the most extensive natural river systems. Despite the fact that there is widespread agreement on the basis of these two options, progress has been slow and even stalled due to lack of commitment at all levels of government. I would like to draw a distinction here between financial and political ability. It is fair to assume that if a nation wide motor-ways and a new port city (Gwadar) can be built, so too can more dams, power plants and coal exploration be funded by the same government.

Another less talked-about aspect of power generation is solar and wind energy. It is clear that the world’s appetite for non-renewable sources such as crude oil, coal and gas is set to diminish over the next 50 years as some of the world’s largest deposits show signs of depletion. At the same time, there is a shift towards renewable energy sources such as solar, wind and water with great advancements in the development and distribution of infrastructure. Pakistan could seize an opportunity in the current crisis by investing in solar and wind energy farms. With one of the most sunniest outlooks in the world, the plains of Punjab and Sindh could house industrial-scale solar farms or subsidise the technology for distribution at domestic level to help increase self-sufficiency. The coastal regions of Sindh and Baluchistan could be utilised for off-shore wind farms which would not only provide additional capacity but also result in thousands of jobs for locals across the coastal regions.

All the above options seem quite plausible in the case of Pakistan and given some political will, might even get to see the light of day. But what can we do to stop the crisis from further deterioration and provide some ways to survive this summer? The solution lies in a collective national effort.

It is clear that consumption habits of consumers across Pakistan are grossly inefficient. Leaving lights and home appliances on even when they are not being used is a common practice across our homes. Similarly, many businesses such as small retail outlets use excessive lighting. It is commonly observed that shops that could do with a few energy efficient lights to meet the desired level of luminance use as many as 15 to 20 tube lights. Not only does this increase power consumption, it also generates heat and creates a need to purchase even more power hungry cooling appliances such as ACs. The inefficient consumption trend simply runs across all domestic, industrial, trade and commercial sectors. It is crucial that there is an immediate collective national-level effort to stop this misuse of energy.

So what can be done to buck the current trend? With minimal effort, well over ten percent of the overall consumption can be saved by simply changing our attitudes. The people of Pakistan need to acknowledge that the country is faced with an acute energy crisis which requires a national-level effort to overcome it. Together we must draw a distinction between electrical necessities and luxuries. There is simply insufficient levels of energy to fuel both aspects.

There is real potential to avert a real disaster by simply promoting conservation and meet almost half of the energy deficit. To ensure success, public awareness is essential. With the help of effective electronic and print media campaigns the government can quickly educate the masses on the necessary steps.

Unfortunately, we will have to compromise on luxury in order to meet the necessities. Commercial establishments can substantially reduce their power consumption by changing their working hours. An early start and early end to maximise daylight ought to be adopted as opposed to afternoon until late at night hours. AC usage must be dropped to a minimum.

The AC has long been associated in Pakistan with higher social class and with a sign of a luxurious lifestyle. It is probably a fact that rising middle class’s demand for ACS finally broke the proverbial camel’s back. At the current AC consumption trends, we will probably have to stare at the silent ACs with no power as there will be no electricity left for anyone to run them. So let’s stop the use of ACs and grab the good old fan and mosquito net and take in the pleasure of sleeping on the roof. Oh and the beauty of the celestial setting will truly take away any worries of heat. On a personal note, some of my most memorable nights in Lahore have been under the sky during cloudless summer nights.

To conclude, there is no denying the fact that probably the whole world is faced with a form of energy crisis. Energy is scarce and is becoming increasingly dear. The power to harness and conserve energy is in the hands of the people of each nation – In our case, all Pakistanis.

I call on the educated and ruling elite to lead by example and convince the poor and common man that charity indeed starts at home. The masses will take on the idea when they see that the rulers practice what they preach and will play an equal role in changing the status quo.

Hopefully projects such as Dams, Wind, Nuclear and Solar farms will eventually see the light of day. But until then, it is the simple solutions that could potentially save us from a slow and painful process of suffering.

CDGL’s Operation Cleanup

City District Government Lahore (CDGL) is finally taking an effective step against encroachers on main commercial streets in the city starting with demolition of illegal extensions of gas and fuel stations on Thokar Niaz Baig and removing encroachments on both sides of Multan Road.

CDGL’s Operation Cleanup - 2

CDGL’s Operation Cleanup - 1

This bold step has been undertaken in presence of LDA (Lahore Development Authority), LESCO (Lahore Electric Supply Company) representatives and officials belonging to the related law-enforcing agencies.

Regulation and proper implementation of property laws and strict action against offenders regardless of their status are initiatives that are so very good for the commuters, business owners and ultimately the annoyed residents of the affected localities and their surrounding areas.

Unfair or just competition in another LIGHT!??

The Cavalary crossing that leads to Cantt on one side and Defence Housing Authority on the other flaunts few of the largest sites available for outdoor advertising. No brownie points for guessing that two of the leading telcos have captured these sites and using them for their advantage to its max. However on a regular basis for at least the past few weeks (if not months for sure) Every evening, the Warid billboard is dark as the night itself whereas the Mobilink one is shining like a golden sun.

 daytime     night time

Is this a deliberate move by the golden sun or is night descending on the brand team of the other player? (Comments are welcome, what do you think?)

PIA’s Gola Project

PIA’s Gola Project

Looks like now they are raising capital from selling ‘Golas’ outside girls colleges in Lahore to recover from soaring budget deficits at the Pakistan International Airlines.

Why is ‘Aata’ now available?

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And they say it was an artificial crisis caused by smuggling of wheat to Afghanistan, Central Asia; fueled by evil intentions of the stockists; worsened by unplanned exports by the government; and hyped by bulk consumer purchases…

What factor do you blame the most?

Startup Insiders ~ Nourishing Young Entrepreneurs

Experiences, insights, thoughts and ideas were shared in abundance at the 6th Startup Insiders session held on February 24 at the LUMS campus.

With quite an active, participating and respectably patient audience, though limited to almost 50 individuals, the session took off in high spirits and was able to maintain it throughout.

SInsiders1.jpg

Main topic of discussion was ‘the ways of finding, identifying and targeting the right customer’ as an entrepreneur specifically in the Information Technology industry which was very intelligently moderated by Jehan Ara [President, P@SHA] and Jawwad Farid [CEO, Alchemy Technologies].

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Everyone benefited from listening to and questioning some of Pakistan’s most promising IT entrepreneurs including Zafar Khan [Sofizar]; Faisal Qureshi [Kolachi Advanced Technologies]; Fahd Bangash [Amaana]; Zia Imran [Vahzay]; Umar Saif [BumpIn; Chopaal] and Jawwad himself. Almost all of these people started off with just a few individuals and have tasted success of varying degrees.

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The most refreshing aspect of the session was the desire as expressed by all panelists to help and guide people who really want to break barriers and are striving to make a mark for themselves and their country. It was very heartening to see these people actually willing to share and spread their success among promising stars of the future.

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