ISLAMABAD: The Global System for Mobile Communications Association (GSMA) and Kistpay in collaboration with the Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication here on Wednesday launched the ‘Smartphone for All’ initiative to facilitate affordable smartphone ownership for low- and middle-income consumers in Pakistan on easy installments.
While addressing the GSMA ‘Smartphone for All’ launching ceremony, federal Minister for IT and Telecommunication Syed Amin Ul Haque said: “Today, the Ministry of IT and Telecommunication took another concrete step towards achieving the vision of digital Pakistan. With our ‘Smartphone for All’ initiative, we aim to improve the buying ability of marginalised people via installment-based financing instruments and seek to encourage the digital inclusion of youth, women, and rural communities through early smartphone adoption. Improved access to smartphones is a key priority so that everyone in Pakistan can participate in the digital economy and the socio-economic benefit from increased smartphone penetration can be achieved.”
While appreciating the scheme, he said that alongside smartphones, connectivity is also vital, adding that the Ministry of IT through the Universal Service Fund (USF) launched many connectivity projects across the country. He said that projects worth Rs 65 billion had been launched in the last four years for providing broadband services in unserved and underserved areas of the country.
He said during the current year 28 different projects have been launched to provide telecom services in different parts of the country. IT Minister congratulated the team of Universal Service Fund and its CEO Haaris Chaudhary on their performance to provide connectivity in un-served and under-served areas of Pakistan.
Haque said that steps are also underway to increase IT exports. Efforts are also on to settle issues in the telecom industry, he said. He said that the empowerment of youth especially women is the vision of the Ministry of IT.
The minister said that Google finally decided to open its office in Pakistan and has been registered in SECP. A Google delegation will visit Pakistan in second week of December this year, while TikTok also planned to open an office in Pakistan and Facebook authorities are in contact for the same.
According to the details, Kistpay enables Shariah Compliant Smartphone Financing on leading smartphone brands with plans ranging from 3 to 12 months with the fastest application approval process.
Customers can avail the financing facility via the retail network, telecom partners, the Kistpay website and the Kistpay Whatsapp channel. Smartphones will be available through Kistpay in the price range of PKR 10,000 to PKR 100,000.
In his welcome note, Julian Gorman, Head of Asia-Pacific (APAC), GSMA, said: “A connected population is a basic ingredient for a Digital Nation from which flows digital economic growth, empowered industry and entrepreneurs and improved livelihoods for every citizen.”
On the occasion, Major General Amir Azeem Bajwa (retd), Chairman of the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) lauded the efforts of Kistpay and the GSMA for bridging the smartphone affordability gap as it is a key barrier to the adoption of the mobile internet.
He further said that improved access to smartphones will increase access to information which will create micro-entrepreneurs and reduce poverty.
In the opening remarks at the event, Syed Asif Jafri, CEO of Kistpay highlighted the challenges being faced by the majority of Pakistanis in gaining access to both smartphones and Shariah-Compliant Financing.
Asif Jafri added: “Kistpay will enable many millions of disconnected users for digital and financial inclusion so that they can enjoy the benefits of a digitally connected life.”
Asif Aziz, CCO Jazz suggested that to facilitate the transition to mobile broadband for an additional 50 million people in the next three years, the government needs to discontinue the import and local production of 2G phones, prioritize local assembly of 4G-enabled smartphones, develop and implement a regulatory cover that enables telecom companies to offer smartphones on installments, and reduce withholding tax on essential telecom services from 15% to 8%. This will help boost digital adoption and unlock tremendous socio-economic opportunities for the masses.