ISLAMABAD: The government has decided to grant a three percent research and development (R&D) allowance to mobile manufacturers from the next fiscal year which would be furthc Federal Minister for Information Technology and Telecommunication Dr Umar Saif while addressing the Pakistan Mobile Summit, presented by TECNO, powered by Jazz, designed and produced by Brand Spectrum here on Monday.

Dr Saif, while highlighting initiatives to increase the export of smartphones manufactured in Pakistan, said the government aims to reach a target of 50 million dollars in the next two years and an ambitious goal of five billion dollars within the next five years.

The country assembled approximately nine million mobile phones worth around $ 1.5 billion during the last two years, said the minister, adding that currently, about 35 different mobile phone brands were actively contributing to the local mobile phone manufacturing industry.

He said the country had exported nearly 250,000 mobile phones and earned around $ 200 million in foreign exchange.

The minister also informed about efforts being made at the local level to prepare some components, with the goal of eventually manufacturing fully assembled phones within the country.

He said that Pakistan is the 7th largest market of cellular users in the world with 191 million cellular connections.

“However, we import most of our mobile phones. We need to manufacture them locally and develop an industry to export made-in-Pakistan phones,” he added. “The Pakistan government has played a pivotal role in supporting the growth of this industry by offering various incentives,” he added.

Highlighting the progress made in the IT and electronics industries over the last three years, he called for the formulation of policies in these domains.

He expressed the view that this decision is expected to encourage and support local mobile manufacturers in their research and development endeavours.

“The move aligns with the government’s broader strategy to boost the technology sector and promote self-sufficiency in the production of electronic devices within Pakistan.”

He expressed confidence that 5G services in the country would be launched by July-August of the current year, and a 300MHz spectrum would be offered for auction.

The minister also highlighted the steps taken by his ministry for the uplift of the IT industry, stating that during the five months, the government has established a Telecom Tribunal to fulfil a longstanding demand of the telecom sector.

“The effective implementation of the Right of Way Policy, the Special Investment Council has removed all departmental hurdles, and all decisions in the interest of the country and the nation have been approved without delay,” he added.

He said that under the nation’s first space policy approved by the federal cabinet, international companies would be allowed to provide communication services through low-orbit communication satellites.

Dr Saif mentioned that satellite communication technology was advancing rapidly, and many private companies worldwide wanted to provide communication services through low-orbit satellites.

“Satellites used to be geostationary, far away from the land. They are useful for broadcasting TV signals, but communicating is difficult because there is latency,” he added.

Dr Saif said that communication services and internet services could be offered through low-orbit satellites, which were relatively closer. He mentioned that there had been a lot of development in this regard in the private sector. “Now it has become possible for communication services in Pakistan to be provided through satellites, and the private sector has this technology,” he said.

Ali Naseer, Chief Data and Strategy Officer at Jazz, said, “This pioneering mobile summit provides all industry stakeholders with a robust platform to address longstanding issues and enable a truly digital Pakistan. There is a great need for consistency and collaboration among all stakeholders to bridge the existing digital divide and match our pace with the rest of the world. We also need to create a conducive regulatory environment, invest in research and development, critically assess our priorities, and realign our efforts to not just keep up but to lead.”

He also wondered why out of the 68 million handsets assembled/manufactured locally since 2020, only 23 million were smartphones.

Kazim Mujtaba, Chief Commercial Officer at Jazz, said that Jazz realized that most users in Pakistan rely on 4G connectivity, so they are focused on optimizing its operations through further investment in infrastructure development and service improvements.

Among others Muzzafar Hayat Piracha, CEO Airlink, Major General Hafeezur Rehman (retd), Chairman PTA, Fatima Asad-Said, CEO ABACUS, Aamir Allawala, CEO Transsion TECNO Electronic, Muhammad Imran Saleem, Country GM, Careem Pakistan, Ehsan Saya, Managing Director, Daraz, and Anwar Kabir, CEO Brand Spectrum attended the event.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

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