Digital Pakistan: Broadband Subscriptions Soar to 100 Million

Broadband subscriptions in Pakistan have soared from 2 million in 2012 to 100 million now, according to the country's telecommunications regulator. Ookla, recognized globally for its broadband speed testing, reports that Pakistan's average broadband download speed is 11.35 Mbps, while its upload speed stands at 10.7 Mbps. Thousands of kilometers of new fiber optic cable is being installed and mobile data usage in Pakistan has recently surged to 8,000 petabytes. Smartphone sales are also swelling. All signs are pointing to Digital Pakistan becoming reality in the near future. 

Broadband Subscriptions Growth in Pakistan. Source: PTA


Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA),  the nation's regulator, said in a statement that 87% of the population has access to the internet at the lowest rates. PTA claims the average download speed is 17.7 Mbps, and the upload speed is 11.3 Mbps, higher than the speeds measured by Ookla recently. Ookla found that mobile download speed in Pakistan is 40% faster than in India. It reported that download speed in Pakistan has grown 24% over last year, while the speed in India grew 12% in the same period. 

Broadband Subscriptions Growth in Pakistan. Source: PTA Via Monis Rahman


Rising broadband subscriptions have triggered a significant increase in Internet data, particularly with the spike in Internet traffic caused by the COVID19 pandemic related lockdowns. Mobile data usage in Pakistan has recently soared to 8,000 petabytes. 

Mobile Data Consumption in Pakistan. Source: Rogue Economist


Both the private sector and the government are laying thousands of kilometers of new fiber optic cable to deal with growing mobile broadband subscriptions and expanding coverage. In addition, the growth in international data traffic is being met with new high-speed undersea cables. 

Pakistan and East Africa Connecting Europe (PEACE) is  96 Tbps (terabits per second), 15,000 km long, privately owned submarine cable that will originate in Karachi, Pakistan and run underwater all the way to Marseilles, France via multiple points in the continent of Africa.  It is being built as part of Digital Silk Road sponsored by China. Cybernet and Jazz are the local landing and global connectivity partners of PEACE Cable System in Pakistan. It will enable high-speed access to a variety of content, cloud computing, gaming and video streaming platforms.  


PEACE Undersea Cable Route. Source: Submarine Cable Networks



The laying of PEACE undersea cable in Pakistan's territorial waters will begin in March, following government approval this month for Cybernet, a local internet service provider, to construct an Arabian Sea landing station in Karachi, according to Nikkei Asia. The Mediterranean section of the cable is already being laid, and runs from Egypt to France. The 15,000 kilometer-long cable is expected to go into service later this year.   

A 820-kilometer long China-Pakistan fiber optic cable has already been laid between the city of Rawalpindi, Pakistan in the south and the Khunjerab Pass, China in the north  and operational since July, 2018. It is currently being extended to Karachi for connection to PEACE cable. 

When completed, PEACE cable will be Pakistan's 7th highest bandwidth, lowest latency undersea connection to the global Internet system. Currently, there are 6 international submarine cable systems connecting Pakistan, including SMW3, SMW4, SMW5, IMEWE, AAE-1 and TW1. PTCL is the landing party in Pakistan for SMW3, SMW4, AAE-1 and IMEWE cable systems, operates cable landing stations in Karachi. SMW3, SMW4 and IMEWE land at Hawksbay, while AAE-1 lands at Clifton. Transworld Associates Private Limited (Transworld, or TWA) privately owns the TW1 cable system and is a member of the SMW5 consortium. Both TW1 and SMW5 land at Hawksbay and terminate at Transworld's cable landing station in Karachi.  

Rapid growth in subscriptions has led to a huge increase in imports of smartphones in the country. The nation’s mobile phone imports have swelled by 51.5% to $1.3 billion in July 2020- February 2021, from $865m in the same period last year. Pakistan has begun local assembly of low-cost smartphones to meet soaring demand.  Since the introduction of the mobile phone manufacturing policy in March 2020, several smartphone assembly plants have been set up to produce 18 million units annually. 

Soaring broadband subscription, swelling data usage and huge surge in smartphone sales are all pointing to Digital Pakistan becoming a reality in the near future. 

Comments

Riaz Haq said…
Pakistan ready to adopt digital financial solutions on large scale, says Easypaisa CEO


https://nation.com.pk/06-Apr-2021/pakistan-ready-to-adopt-digital-financial-solutions-on-large-scale-says-easypaisa-ceo


“Pakistan is rapidly progressing when it comes to mobile broadband. Our country has enormous potential with respect to widening financial inclusion through digital solutions. Currently, 95 million people across the country use mobile broadband, a number which has grown by 50 million in the past 5 years. A majority of adults have broadband connections in Pakistan serving as a backbone to developing a digital payments ecosystem in the country.” said M. Mudassar Aqil, CEO Easypaisa/Telenor Microfinance Bank, while talking about Pakistan’s financial services landscape.

“96% individuals have a biometrically verifiable ID issued by the government, indicating that a robust regulatory framework is in place which is supported by credit bureaus. Despite these fundamental factors, 70% of Pakistanis don’t have access to financial services when the rails to address these challenges are in place,” he added. During COVID-19, digital payments witnessed a boom. According to the SBP’s quarterly report, 296.7 million e-banking transactions, valuing at PKR21.4 trillion, were carried out during Oct – Dec 2020, growing by 24% in volume and 22% in value compared to the same quarter last year.

“During COVID-19 industry numbers of digital transactions grew at an exponential rate. At Easypaisa, our annual throughput increased by 64% as compared to the previous year reaching PKR 1.5 trillion in 2020. Similarly, the number of active Easypaisa App users reached 3.44 million, registering a 54% increase in comparison to previous year.” he commented. Pakistan is predominantly a cash-based economy. However, things are changing as the use of digital payments is taking center-stage.

Mudassar opined: “The Pakistani economy is ready to adopt digital financial solutions on a large scale as opening a mobile wallet account on a smartphone or feature phone takes less than a minute. Roughly PKR 6 trillion or about one-third of the country’s deposits are in circulation. This is one of the highest percentages anywhere in the world and the only way to reduce this is for every adult in the country to have a mobile wallet. Furthermore, all retail outlets in Pakistan should be mandated by law to accept digital payments from mobile wallets. Tax incentives should also be introduced making digital payments cheaper than cash.”
Riaz Haq said…
Edkasa launches mobile app to revolutionise on-demand learning in Pakistan

https://nation.com.pk/10-Apr-2021/edkasa-launches-mobile-app-to-revolutionise-on-demand-learning


LAHORE-Edkasa, a fast-growing education technology startup in Pakistan, has launched its new exam prep mobile application, aiming to reach millions of secondary school students. Edkasa already has a user base of 55,000 students and more than 40 schools throughout Pakistan that currently use its solutions. This new exam prep app is an evolution of this work, and will leverage and grow its existing community. The company has already helped thousands of students, and recorded over 1.3 million hours of viewing time with over 250,000 queries answered by its teachers in 2020. “Education is the biggest bridge between the world that we have, and the world that we want,” said Annum Sadiq, Co-Founder of Edkasa along with Fahad Tanveer. “Edkasa is a dream coming to fruition, as we prepare to educate millions of Pakistani learners.”

The new mobile application, available to download for Android smartphone users (iOS will be available soon), features an initial quiz to gauge a student’s requirements, and then offers customised studying paths based on their needs such as a specific exam, subject, or exam board. Matric and Intermediate students from classes 9-12 can view over 4,500 video lectures on demand and take quizzes based on 15,000 past paper multiple choice questions (MCQs) to gauge their understanding of specific topics. Students can also see how they rank on the app’s leaderboard, compared to fellow Edkasa students from across their exam board, city, or country to get a sense of where they stand. Students sign up for the app for free, continue with a monthly subscription fee starting as low as Rs 899 per month, gaining access to Edkasa’s learning material in Maths, Physics, Chemistry, Biology and English. Edkasa teachers are highly qualified, with experience educating thousands of students.

The Edkasa app has been designed with feedback from Edkasa’s pre-existing user base, and is also aimed at countering the effects of school closure and an uncertain learning environment due to Covid-19. The launch comes ahead of Board examinations in June, and gives young learners in Pakistan a timely chance to revise studying material.

Edkasa, co-founded in 2017 by LUMS alumnus and Fulbright Scholar Annum and LUMS and Harvard alumnus Fahad, leverages mobile broadband technology to offer online remedial classes for standardised exam preparation. Its Chief Technology Officer, Muneeb Ali, a GIKI gold medalist, is also the founder and CEO of OneByte, which works with pre-seed, early-stage, and growth-stage startups to help build their products.

The company raised a pre-seed round of USD320,000 led by i2i Ventures, with participation from Walled City Co., Zayn Capital, and strategic angels in Southeast Asia. The investment was made to build out the exam prep app and scale Edkasa’s e-learning impact with students across the country.
Riaz Haq said…
Fortune at the bottom of the digital pyramid


https://www.pk.undp.org/content/pakistan/en/home/blog/2021/fortune-at-the-bottom-of-the-digital-pyramid.html


The majority of Pakistan’s online users come from a lower socio-economic segment with low levels of literacy. They have come online recently and are navigating interactive devices like smartphones for the first time in their lives. Most of them only use apps like Whatsapp (100%) and Facebook (about 60%) and very few of them do online shopping.

Most blue-collar workers which include drivers, cooks, guards, office boys, electricians, gardeners and shopkeepers fall in this group. Only a quarter of them have access to consistent, stable internet connectivity. Still getting familiarized with the majority of features on their newly acquired smartphones, they do not occupy the same digital spaces, and are unable to navigate most of the sites and apps that most of the upper socio-economic segment frequently uses.

To install a new app on their smartphones, most users typically have to uninstall other apps they use, due to lack of space. Phones also crash routinely due to insufficient memory. There is also a major language and user interface barrier as most interfaces are in English. A recent survey conducted by Rozee in worker colonies revealed that their primary mode of online communication is through voice notes on Whatsapp, followed by messages written in Urdu. Some also use Facebook, Tiktok, Google, and Youtube. Many are neither aware of nor have ever used the web browser on their phones. Few local online services have been built understanding these constraints.

Meanwhile, the number of Pakistan’s online users has skyrocketed during the last five years. To be more precise, out of 85 million connected smartphone users in Pakistan today, a staggering 70 million came online just during the last five years. In the last year, e-commerce and mobile payments growth have swelled 300% to 400%, further propelled by the COVID-19 pandemic. Majority of the users have second-hand Chinese handsets and widely available 3G/4G networks.

Prevailing conventional wisdom amongst our local digital ecosystem is that this segment is not profitable and difficult to monetize. Thus, the focus has been on the Haves rather than the Have-nots. The former orders gourmet food on FoodPanda, buys eye shadow on Daraz, a DHA plot on Zameen, or a bank executive job on Rozee; while the latter have been largely excluded from participating in the massive opportunity created by this quickly evolving digi-sphere. While our e-commerce market has rapidly grown to over USD $4 billion annually, this growth has come almost entirely from the top 40% of the online users.

However, there are some very encouraging early signs of disruptive progress.

During the COVID-19 lockdown, the majority of daily wage workers were displaced as supply chains, businesses and affluent households closed their doors. The Rozee team spent considerable time in worker colonies digitally onboarding unemployed workers on to a donation platform named Project Pakistan. They engaged 60 volunteers from worker communities armed with smartphones. They recorded videos of workers, assessed household incomes, digitally verified ID cards, and did skills assessments. The software identified the neediest of them. In three months, donations were digitally sent to 10,000 households consisting of over 60,000 people. Thanks to technology, a core team of only five people from Rozee managed to make this happen.

Building on this experience, Rozee and UNDP partnered for the development of Rozgar.pk – a blue-collar employment platform that digitally onboards the often ignored blue-collar worker segment, and connected them with part-time or full-time opportunities near them.
Riaz Haq said…
Pakis­tan’s imports of cellphones swelled by 56.74 per cent to $1.54 billion in the first nine months of 2020-21 compared to $979.965 million over the corresponding period last year.

https://twitter.com/bilalgilani/status/1385728340229767170?s=20
Riaz Haq said…
Tech in the Post-Pandemic World
Assessing its future, both the bad and the good.

Kara Swisher
By Kara Swisher
Ms. Swisher covers technology and is a contributing opinion writer.

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/20/opinion/tech-covid-future.html


The freaky video of the New York Police Department’s robot dog owned the internet earlier this month. The minute that DigiDog creepily trotted out of a public housing building, many people decided that the “Terminator” future had arrived — and that humanity was doomed.

Humanity is not doomed. But the hubbub got me thinking about how to assess the future of tech, both the bad and the good, in the wake of the pandemic.

Much like the major changes that raced through American society after the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic (also after World War I), this will be a jarring time. Here’s my take on five of the key arenas we need to be thinking about post-pandemic.

Telecommuting. Work, and specifically its shift from the office to the home, has been one of the most significant changes of the past year. Of course many jobs still require physical presence, but the number of workers who do not have to be analog is vast and growing.

These so-called knowledge workers have realized — even with all the griping about being on Zoom all the time — that it can be both cheaper and more productive to have a work force that is more flexible in terms of place and time.

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Telehealth. Health care is another area that was ripe for disruption prepandemic, as the industry had resisted tech for many years. A number of giant companies like Microsoft and Google have tried to streamline the consumer health experience, while many others have been part of digitizing the back end, but it’s still a miasma of confusion. The pandemic only underscored the poor state of the country’s health services.

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Retail. Physical retail — including restaurants and bars — has been under enormous pressure for years, as tech companies have increasingly placed themselves between the goods and customers. All the while, tech companies have been building one moat after the next to solidify their strength by providing better service, streamlining delivery logistics and offering better prices.

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Tele-education. Online education has not worked out so well in the past year. A reliance on virtual education has taken a toll on our mental health and revealed inequities in internet access. It’s still a problematic experience for most users. Everyone I talk with agrees that it’s been a failure for most students.

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Innovation. The most important thing to come out of the pandemic could be a flowering of innovation, across a wide variety of sectors. After the 1918 pandemic, the 1920s saw a burst of aggressive ideas, most especially with the introduction of the television.

While I can’t predict what the 2020s equivalent of that will be, if I had to guess, I would say we’ll see new breakthroughs related to the messenger RNA technology used to develop several Covid vaccines. Such a thing would be both ironic and fitting, and in keeping with how innovation works: Out of the ashes of great distress comes a major discovery. And the rest is, as they say, history.
Riaz Haq said…
PM #ImranKhan: Kisan Card will 'transform' farming in #Pakistan. #Technology will eliminate bribes and let #farmers get #agriculture loans and have direct access to agriculture #subsidies for #seeds, #pesticides & #fertilizer.
https://www.dawn.com/news/1620494


The premier said that the subsidy on DAP (diammonium phosphate), which was previously Rs500, would also be increased to Rs1,000 under the Kisan Card.

"Subsidies will also be available for seeds and pesticides," said the prime minister, adding that loans to farmers would also be provided through the card and preparations for this were already under way.

---"

The premier said that during the PTI government's tenure, farmers had gained an additional Rs1,100 billion due to the prices they received for produce such as sugarcane, wheat and corn.

"Pakistan's poverty is concentrated in rural areas," he said, adding that the additional money that farmers would gain would help to improve their standard of living. He said that reducing poverty had been the "real purpose" of the PTI government since day one, adding that it was now "moving towards that target".

The prime minister also mentioned other measures the government was taking to improve the agricultural sector and pointed out the Rs300bn transformation package.

"Water is a very big problem. If farmers face water shortages then their produce is affected," he said, adding that two big dams were being made after 50 years to address this issue and Rs220bn from the transformation package was set aside for the fortification and lining of canals. Additional small scale water projects were also being carried out, he said.

He also stated that due to his efforts, agriculture had been brought under the scope of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) to benefit from Beijing's agricultural technology and seed development. Pakistan's own research institutions on seed development would also be revamped, the premier said.

The prime minister also stated that a lot of agricultural produce that was imported, would now be grown in Pakistan, adding that the country's favourable climate and temperature provided the necessary conditions to increase crop yield.

"Our farmers are still using old methods," lamented the premier and stated that extension services were being privatised. A trained professional per Union Council would be responsible for visiting farmers on a motorcycle in the area and informing them about new agricultural techniques.

"There is great need for this because we need [to adopt] new [agricultural] practices," said the prime minister, adding that Pakistan's agriculture was subsistence level so "we will train them (farmers) through extension services to increase their productivity."

He also pointed out initiatives to develop Pakistan's livestock and said Pakistan still imported milk due to low productivity. Thus, Rs40bn have been set aside to import semen so livestock breeds could be improved, said the premier.

"You will see that change will come in one to two years and because of that, milk production will increase three-fold," he said, adding that improving the breed of livestock will not only allow Pakistan to provide cheap milk but also export cheese and milk.

"We can earn $25bn just from cheese and milk exports in the next three years."

Prime Minister Imran Khan lamented the losses that vegetables and fruits suffered at 50 per cent and 20pc for grains. "So we have decided to develop storage for them and food processing plants," he announced, adding that billions of rupees were lost due to 20pc of wheat being lost and fruits and vegetables could otherwise be provided much cheaper.

Among other measures he mentioned were doubling of loans for farmers, local production of fertilisers, doubling cereal production as well as improving local production of medicinal plants, corn and developing the fishery sector such as prawns.
Riaz Haq said…
Two trillion rupee stimulus revives #Pakistan's #economy. Rising foreign exchange reserves, improving current account balance & economic indicators such as #manufacturing, #cement, #automobiles and #FMCG, the economy is moving again toward higher growth https://www.khaleejtimes.com/business/economy/rs2t-stimulus-revives-pakistans-economy

Top government officials, analysts and corporate leaders repose trust in the growing economy and said higher GDP growth in the five-to-six per cent per annum range is going to be a ‘new normal’ in the next five years considering strong economic indicators.

“Yes, we have a potential to grow at much higher rate in coming years. The State Bank of Pakistan [SBP] projects three per cent GDP growth in financial year 2020-21 and four per cent in 2021-22,” SBP governor Dr Reza Baqir told Khaleej Times during a recent event.

Newly-appointed Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin said Pakistan will go for an ambitious six per cent economic growth target in the next two years as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) shows its willingness to renegotiate tough conditions for a $6 billion loan in the wake of rising Covid-19 cases.

“The federal government will earmark as much as Rs900 billion [$6 billion] for development expenditure in the year beginning July. That’s the bare minimum we need for a country this size,” he said.

Climbing the charts

The IMF has projected four per cent GDP growth for Pakistan during fiscal year 2021-22, which starts in July. Islamabad is expected to post a 1.5 per cent expansion during the current fiscal year ending on June 30 after a rare contraction of -0.4 per cent last year.

“We have strong economic indicators this year despite the Covid-19 pandemic challenges and this is a good omen for the economy. The government ensures more than Rs2 trillion stimulus to steer the economy out of Covid crisis by supporting the businesses through much-needed liquidity and funds distribution at grass root level,” Dr Baqir said.

Elaborating, the central bank governor said the SBP offered Rs450 billion liquidity under its Temporary Economic Refinance Facility to the private sector to absorb the Covid shock, while another Rs240 billion was provided as working capital to avoid layoffs and job losses.

“The central bank also offered a Rs900 billion cushion to banks to ensure relief to distress businesses in deferment and restructuring of principal payment and mark-up charges. These are some of the measures which helped the economy to bounce back quickly to meet global demand after the lockdown period,” Dr Baqir said.

Referring to rising foreign exchange reserves, an orderly rupee-dollar parity, improving current account balance and other economic indicators such as large-scale manufacturing, cement, automobiles and fast-moving consumer goods, the SBP governor said the economy is moving in the right direction and will perform better in coming years.

“Pakistan is one of the few countries that reduced its fiscal deficit despite the Covid challenge and global economic slowdown by reprioritising spending. The country’s public debt-to-GDP ratio has remained broadly stable last year while it has risen for most emerging markets due to Covid; this has improved the country’s creditworthiness,” he said.

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High single-digit growth

Samiullah Tariq, head of research at Pakistan Kuwait Investment, said the country’s economy should grow at much higher rates to realise the true economic potential of the country.

“Pakistan is a nation of 220 million-plus people and every year new earners are now coming into the main stream. Renewable energy is providing everyone a sustainable and cheap energy making lives easier and production cheaper,” Tariq told Khaleej Times.

“IT, e-commerce, the Internet and cellular sectors have huge potential to drive economy into fast lane and achieve much higher GDP growth in next five years. High signle-digit growth is going to be a new normal in years to come,” he said.
Riaz Haq said…
#KP province of #Pakistan takes lead in #IT sector with first-ever #5G trial. Experimental test in #Peshawar comprises remote surgery concept & cloud gaming. The trial in Peshawar will increase pace of #internet penetration in Pakistan. #Telecom #Tech
https://tribune.com.pk/story/2305786/k-p-takes-lead-in-it-sector-with-first-ever-5g-trial

The country took one step further towards expanding its internet horizon on Thursday with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) conducting the successful test of 5G technology for consumers at the Durshal Incubation Center in Peshawar.

The PTCL Group and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Information Technology Board (KPITB), under the umbrella of Department of Science and Information Technology, conducted the 5G trial in a limited environment on a non-commercial basis.

The demonstration included successful remote surgery concept, cloud gaming and an overview of anticipated 5G technology applications in Pakistan. Once the infrastructure and systems are operational, surgeons will be able to perform surgeries remotely in the far-flung areas.

Once operational, Pakistan would join a select group of nations benefiting from the latest internet tech. The first country to adopt 5G was South Korea way back in 2019. Other leading nations like Switzerland, Kuwait, Finland, Qatar, US, UK, China, Italy, Spain, Australia etc followed later.

There are a host of others, including India, who have started making remarkable progress with 5G or have already achieved 5G technology. Noman Ahmed Said, Chief Executive Office (CEO) Si Global said that there were several advantages in introducing 5G in Pakistan.

The advantages, he added, included increased bandwidth along with faster speed with the potential to integrate seamlessly with technology that supported it. “The 5G, the 5th generation mobile network, enables a new kind of network that is designed to connect virtually everyone and everything together, including machines, objects, and devices,” he told The Express Tribune.

K-P Senior Minister and Minister for IT, Science and Technology Atif Khan termed the 5G trial in Peshawar a “significant milestone in the history” of K-P. Speaking at the trial, he congratulated all the stakeholders on “making significant contribution to this latest technology demonstration”.

“This technology, once deployed, will enable provision of best medical and healthcare facilities to remote areas, provide international-level education opportunities to the underserved areas, and have a significant overall impact on the socio economic landscape of the country,” he added.

The main challenges facing the developing counties like Pakistan in implementing 5G is that “we have very recently implemented 4G for which the overall roll-out phase is still incomplete”, Said said. “There are also major technical challenges that we are likely to face while deploying 5G.”

According to Said, there were various security aspects of the 5G networks, which were an ongoing issue and added: “We are currently not technologically competent to handle the many security glitches of 5G networks.”

He said: “Additionally, there are infrastructural hurdles that will need to be completely reworked and will also involve heavy costs in doing so. Spectrum costs, costs of increased network density and dynamic spectrum sharing are also issues that are to be considered.”

Said said that introducing 5G would be a massive step in the formation of a Digital Pakistan in accordance with the vision of Prime Minister Imran Khan, adding that 5G would facilitate the move towards digital currency and cryptocurrency, putting the country at par with the rest of the world.

According to Si Global CEO, implementation of 5G could ultimately change the technological landscape of Pakistanm but stressed that several arrangements had to be made prior to its implementation.
Riaz Haq said…
IT ministry to establish more software technology parks

https://pakobserver.net/it-ministry-to-establish-more-software-technology-parks/


He (Minister of IT) said the (Pakistan federal) government had also decided to set up an information technology park near the Jinnah International Airport in the trade and business hub of Karachi at a cost of Rs 31 billion.

The IT park would house about 210 IT companies having 8,400 employees. Pakistan Software Export Board (PSEB) would act as the project executing agency and complete it in six years.

The IT park would span over an area of 106,449 square meters with eight floors above the ground and three basement floors, he said.

To a question, the official said the ministry of IT had recently inaugurated IT Park in Islamabad, consisting of twelve-storey self-contained building on covered area of 66,893 square meters.

The IT Park would be developed with state-of-the-art infrastructure and allied facilities for IT companies with financial assistance of Exim Bank, Korea, he added.The project, he said, would be completed in 30 months with the total cost of Rs 13.72 billion.
Riaz Haq said…
#Samsung plans #smartphone assembly in #Pakistan. Smartphone imports in Pakistan have swelled by 63% to $1.860 billion in 11MFY21 from $1.138bn in the same period last year. There are over 100 million #mobile #broadband subscribers. DAWN.COM

https://www.dawn.com/news/1633812

South Korean tech giant Samsung has been in talks with three investors for setting up a mobile manufacturing unit in Pakistan.

Sources said out of three parties, one has a franchise from Korea which has already set up vehicle assembling plants in Pakistan under Auto Development Policy (ADP) 2016-21, while other two are different parties.

They said so far no agreement has been signed as Samsung, after short listing various companies, is in the process of finalising its plan to award the licence to one of the companies for cellphone manufacturing.

The world’s biggest smartphone maker said in an earnings estimate on Wednesday that it expected operating profit of around 12.5 trillion won ($11 billion) for April to June, up from 8.15 trillion won a year earlier.

Companies being shortlisted for award of licence

“The Korean company aims to start local assembly of cellphones in the last quarter of this year,” a source, who is looking after the development in the mobile phone sector, told Dawn on Wednesday.

Market sources said Samsung may prefer the option to ink the agreement with one of the Korean companies operating in Pakistan owing to comfort level which it may not find with non-Korean firms.

The Engineering Development Board (EDB), an arm of the Ministry of Industries and Production (MoIP), approved Mobile Device Manufacturing Policy (MDMP) in 2020 and so far 21 companies have been given the green signal for mobile device manufacturing authorisation from March to June 2021.

As per EDB list, factories’ locations include Rawalpindi, Karachi, Lahore, Faisalabad and Islamabad. Some prominent brand names include Nokia, Oppo, Infinix, Tecno, Itel, Vivo, Alpha, Realme, VGOTEL, DCODE, Calme, Xcell, Spice, TCL, Alcatel, etc.

Sources said that the government has framed MDMP to encourage foreign players to take a plunge in Pakistan for setting up cellphone manufacturing unit. The aim is to produce the product under the banner of “Make in Pakistan” and to discourage imports.

Cellphone imports, as per figures of Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS), have swelled by 63pc to $1.860 billion in 11MFY21 from $1.138bn in the same period last fiscal year.

According to the Economic Survey 2020-21, during July 2012 to February 2021, telecom sector has attracted over $3.9 billion of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). The FDI in telecom during July-February FY21 was $101.1 million. Telecom operators have invested an amount of $363.9m during July-December FY21.

The main driver behind this investment is the cellular mobile sector which has invested $253.5m during the period. The overall investment in the telecom sector during the first eight months of FY21 crossed $465m. Pakistan’s cellphone subscribers have reached 183.48m till May 2021.
Riaz Haq said…
#China #tech-giant Xiaomi to Set up Local #smartphone assembly unit in #Pakistan. Xiaomi is following the footsteps of other major brands like Tecno, Infinix & Realme which have recently opened their local #manufacturing units in Pakistan. #mobilephones https://www.phoneworld.com.pk/tech-giant-xiaomi-to-set-up-local-assembly-unit-in-pakistan-source/

In a landmark development, the Chinese tech giant Xiaomi has announced that it will set up a local assembly unit in the country in three to four months, according to sources. The latest development will not only generate employment opportunities for the indigenous people but will also boost the local smartphone manufacturing space in the country. Furthermore, the local manufacturing of smartphones will also attract foreign direct investment (FDI) and ramp up a foreign exchange through exports.

Tech-giant Xiaomi to Set up Local Assembly Unit in Pakistan: Source
Basically, Xiaomi is following the footsteps of other major brands like Tecno, Infinix, Realme, etc. who have recently announced to open their local manufacturing unit in Pakistan. It will greatly benefit the company as Xiaomi is currently one of the most loved brands in Pakistan. It can be evident if we look at the sale of its recently launched devices like Mi 11, Note 10, etc. The primary reason behind its huge demand is that it renders quality, consumer-centric (gaming phones, camera phones, etc.), and affordable products.

Furthermore, as we know that Xiaomi deals in a range of accessories and IoT products. So if the company’s smartphone local assembly becomes a success story then the company will surely install other product manufacturing assemblies as well.

Currently, Pakistan is the 7th largest importer of mobile phones with a humungous market size of over 40 million users. Thus, consequently, local manufacturing will also save foreign exchange on mobile phone imports.
Riaz Haq said…
Lucky Motor to produce of Samsung-branded mobile #smartphone in #Pakistan beginning in December 2021. Plant will be located at LMC’s existing plant facility producing vehicles at Bin Qasim Industrial Park, Special Economic Zone, Port Qasim, #Karachi. https://www.brecorder.com/news/40107634

https://twitter.com/haqsmusings/status/1416039226492129281?s=20

Lucky Motor Corporation (LMC), a subsidiary of Lucky Cement Limited, has entered into an agreement with Samsung Gulf Electronics Co., FZE (Samsung) for the production of Samsung-branded mobile devices in Pakistan, stated a notice sent to the country’s stock exchange on Friday.

“In pursuance of this transaction, LMC has also initiated the process of seeking necessary regulatory approvals to carry on the said business and, in this endeavor, has filed an application with the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) for securing the license,” added the notice.

The notice added the production facility for producing Samsung mobile devices will be located at LMC’s existing plant facility producing vehicles at Bin Qasim Industrial Park, Special Economic Zone, Port Qasim, Karachi.

Secretary informs parliamentary panel: 'Samsung poised to enter local market; two firms short-listed'

“The production facility is anticipated to be completed by end of December 2021. That further information on the amount contemplated to be invested in the production facility and the capacity thereof shall be discussed between the Parties (Samsung and LMC) in due course of time.”

LMC is currently engaged in the business of manufacturing, assembly, marketing, distribution and sales of Kia and Peugeot branded vehicles, parts and accessories thereof, in Pakistan.

The development comes as a major landmark for Pakistan that has been pushing to join the league of smartphone manufacturing countries.

In a bid to boost Pakistan's telecom and manufacturing sector, some 21 new companies have been authorised to start local manufacturing/assembly of mobile phones.
Riaz Haq said…
Emerging Technologies Centre will be Established in Pakistan with UK-Pakistan Collaboration

https://www.phoneworld.com.pk/emerging-technologies-centre-will-be-established-in-pakistan-with-uk-pakistan-collaboration/

The Extreme Commerce Magna Carta College (ECMCC) and the British Computing Society are collaborating for the development of Pakistan’s first Center Of Emerging Technologies in the private sector, IT industry is highly dependent upon the newest technology developments. Yesterday, the agreement has been signed to start this project.

The collaboration has been established by AccrediNation Founder and Managing Partner, Mr. Asad Aamir Ansari and ECMCC Head, Mr. Abdul Hafeez Malik. British High Commissioner Mike Nithavrianakis and the Director of Commerce for Pakistan also participated in the signing ceremony.


With respect to the idea behind the campaign, Sunny Ali, the founder of Extreme Commerce, said:

“The Center for Emerging Technologies was lacking in Pakistan. While initiatives in the public sector have been made. We are pleased to be leading this initiative in Pakistan.”

In addition, Sunny says how this would provide a new path towards the formation of a new industry of human resources in the country, therefore soon that would lead a greater industry in Pakistan. Founder of AccrediNation’s Asad Aamir Ansari emphasizes as new technologies will help many sectors including the healthcare, finances and more not only IT industry, those will get huge profit from technology like Artificial Intelligence.

In addition, the CEO of Ejaz Chaudhry Magna-Carta college said, “It would enhance employability and the worth of our young people worldwide through IT certifications from BCS UK. In the vibrant and challenging market of today’s world, IT professionals require internationally renowned and industrially relevant knowledge, experience and practical competencies to compete the technology improvements.”



Riaz Haq said…
#China's Oppo to set up a dedicated assembly line in #Pakistan for Realme to produce #5G-enabled #smartphones and another for artificial intelligence (#AI) products at affordable rates. #Mobile #technology #Telecommunications #Internet #Broadband
https://tribune.com.pk/story/2311681/chinese-firm-to-launch-5g-phones-in-pakistan

Many smartphone companies have expressed their intention to begin production of mobile phones in Pakistan after cellular giant Samsung collaborated with the Lucky Group to produce high-quality phones in the country.

Now, the companies are making efforts to introduce 5G phones in the local market.

Chinese smartphone manufacturer Realme has shared plans to launch 5G-enabled phones in Pakistan at affordable prices after its parent announced the establishment of a local assembly line in the country.

Speaking to The Express Tribune, Realme Regional Marketing Director Sherry Dong said that the brand received an excellent reception in Pakistan, hence the company was now prioritising the country to introduce 5G mobile phones.

She added that the company was the first smartphone brand in Pakistan to sell over a million devices in less than a year, which was a significant milestone and paved the way for new investments and introduction of diverse products.

She announced that the company was planning to set up a local assembly line for its products after which top-notch technology would be available in Pakistan at affordable prices.

Read More: Why 5G is still out of Pakistan’s grasp

A few years ago, Realme’s parent company, Oppo Mobile Telecommunications Ltd, had expressed its interest in setting up a mobile assembly plant in Pakistan.

Giving further details, she said that the facility would have two separate assembly lines - one for each brand.

With a dedicated assembly line for Realme, the company will introduce 5G-enabled mobiles as well as other artificial intelligence (AI) products at affordable rates.

“5G is the future, therefore, we have to provide up-to-date technological products to Pakistani consumers at affordable prices,” she added.

The company utilises online marketplaces to promote its products because e-commerce has grown significantly in Pakistan due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Keeping this in view, the management of the smartphone company has decided to introduce its own digital store in Pakistan’s online marketplace.

“We entered into partnerships with a couple of local companies to sell our products, but now we have decided to establish our own digital outlet in Pakistan,” she said.

Sherry added that digital platforms in Pakistan had matured over the past couple of years, but they still lagged behind regional countries.

She pointed out that the company faced some issues with Pakistan Customs as delay in release of shipments had caused shortage of its products.
Riaz Haq said…
Google's and Kantar's"Journey to Digital" report on Pakistan

https://www.geo.tv/latest/362818-google-research-highlights-digital-revolution-overtaking-pakistan

https://youtu.be/7mlSvA7MyWo

The two-stage study interviewed 4,135 Pakistanis aged between 15-55 in both urban and rural areas.
The study found that 76% of Pakistanis are connected to the internet in the top three cities of the country.
The study further shows 46% of all Pakistanis access the internet every day.

Pakistan is witnessing a digital revolution and most of the citizens are ready to embrace it as more than half the population of the country access internet on daily basis, a study has revealed.

Google and Kantar shared new research “Journey to Digital” about the digital population in Pakistan. The two-stage study interviewed 4,135 Pakistanis aged between 15-55 in both urban and rural areas.

The study found that 76% of Pakistanis are connected to the internet in the top three cities of the country (Karachi, Lahore, Rawalpindi / Islamabad).

Overall, 66% of internet users are based in urban areas while 47% are based in rural areas. The study further showed that 46% of all Pakistanis access the internet every day.

According to the study, young males are early adopters, who access the internet more than any other group. They are also keener to try new things and need the internet for education and work.

Internet usage surged due to COVID-19, finds the study, as, before the lockdown, 79% of internet users in urban locations accessed the internet daily, which increased by 10% since lockdowns were imposed.

Google Search and YouTube are most popular in Pakistan, said the study. YouTube, used by nearly 90% of all internet users, is the most popular app in Pakistan for streaming music and watching video/TV, and 38% of Pakistan's internet users go to YouTube in the research phase of their shopping journey.

The study also says that one-third of all internet users in Pakistan have made a purchase online and one-fourth of these shoppers have increased their spending during COVID-19 lockdowns.

Pakistan is a witness to the e-commerce boom as 71% of Pakistani shoppers find purchasing products or services online easy, while 66% find it convenient. Another 54% agree that online shopping websites or apps give personalised product recommendations, which is a common question from shoppers.

However, 66% of consumers believe that online shopping is the way forward, and two-thirds of Pakistan online shoppers believe that they will buy products or services online after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Faraz Azhar, Industry Head, Performance, South Asia Frontier Markets, Google explained, “With half of its population on the internet - Pakistan is now online! This is the first time Google and Kantar released a study to understand more about Pakistan’s internet population. But it’s not only about people getting online, this research has uncovered new insights and behaviours that show how COVID is impacting online behaviour and the digital opportunities waiting to be unlocked.”

"More people are coming online in Pakistan, creating a great opportunity for eCommerce businesses - if they are ready to seize it. As we see more exploration of the internet beyond social, e-retailers can capture natural cross-category purchasing on its rise, but only if they have first established themselves and their product offering in an online marketplace," he said.

Trust is also crucial, so helping customers gain confidence by showing them how easy, convenient and personal the e-shopping experience will be critical to continuing the upward rise of eCommerce in Pakistan, Leah Westwood, Client Manager at Kantar added.


Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan begins #export of #smartphones . After authorisation from Pakistan #Telecom Authority (PTA), Inovi Telecom has exported 5,500 units of 4G smartphones carrying "manufactured in Pakistan" tag to the United Arab Emirates (#UAE). #electronics

https://tribune.com.pk/story/2315622/pakistan-begins-export-of-smartphones

"PTA congratulates the company for this landmark achievement. This is the result of concerted efforts for the development of the mobile device manufacturing ecosystem in the country," the authority said in a statement issued on Saturday.

It said that the successful implementation of the Device Identification Registration and Blocking System (DIRBS) and enabling government policies including the mobile manufacturing policy have created a favourable environment for mobile device manufacturing in Pakistan.

"As a part of this policy, Inovi Telecom Pvt. Ltd was issued mobile manufacturing authorisation by PTA on 9th April 2021," it added.

Within four months, according to PTA, the company has managed to export "manufactured in Pakistan" phones.

In recent times, the telecom sector has emerged as a prominent contributor to Pakistan’s economy as its share in the national exchequer soared 129% in 2020 compared to 2019, despite economic pressure arising from Covid-19.

In July, Lucky Motor Corporation entered into an agreement with Samsung Gulf Electronics to produce Samsung mobile phones in Pakistan at its automobile plant at Port Qasim.

In comments to The Express Tribune, Tecno Pack Telecom CEO Aamir Allawala termed the joint venture excellent development for the country

Samsung was a mobile phone giant and its decision to assemble phones in Pakistan was an indication of the success of the Mobile Device Manufacturing Policy (MDMP) launched by the government in June 2020, said Allawala.

The vision of the policy was clear i.e. by 2022, 80% of all mobile phones sold in Pakistan should be locally manufactured, he said.

The brands already being manufactured in Pakistan included Tecno, Infinix, Itel, Vivo, Oppo and Realme while Nokia was in the process of setting up a plant and kick-starting operations in September 2021, Allahwala further said.

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