Tech giant Samsung is looking forward to setting up a smartphone assembly plant in Pakistan, Federal Industries and Production Minister Hammad Azhar announced on Friday.
“Smartphone production in Pakistan is multiplying following DIRBS [Device Identification Registration and Blocking System] implementation and Mobile Policy launched recently,” he tweeted after meeting with the Samsung Pakistan MD and CEO.
“They [Samsung Pakistan MD and CEO] appreciated both policies and are now actively considering setting up a smartphone assembly plan in Pakistan,” he added.
The DIRBS allows the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) to stop the use of smuggled mobile devices.
All mobile devices being connected to local networks using local SIMs are subject to registration within 60 days from their first use on a local mobile network.
Earlier this year, Pakistan was ranked as a 4th Generation Regulator (G4) by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), making it the only country in South Asia to have achieved the status.
Of the 38 economies in Asia-Pacific, only 8% have managed to achieve the G4 status.
In the ITU report “Global ICT Regulatory Outlook 2020 (GIRO)”, Pakistan scored 88 out of 100. The country is also among the top five regulators in the Asia-Pacific region with a global rank of 48.
The GIRO is built on data provided by 193 countries, which forms the basis of ‘ICT Regulatory Tracker’. The tracker is an evidence-based tool that helps decision-makers and regulators monitor the rapid evolution of ICT regulation.
Recently, Bangladesh has started exporting locally assembled mobile phones to USA, thus joining Vietnam, India and Indonesia.
Mobile phone exports out of Vietnam have surged to over $60 billion. India’s mobile phone exports – $3 billion in 2019 – are targeted at $110 billion by 2025, creating thousands of jobs.
Pakistan’s manpower cost is reportedly one-third of the Chinese and it is the seventh largest market of mobile phones.
In 2019, over 28.2 million mobile phones were imported legally into Pakistan – thanks to the full introduction of Device Identification, Registration and Blocking System (DIRBS) by Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) in early 2019, which helped to control smuggling. In addition, around 12 million sets were reportedly assembled in the country.
The demand for high-quality affordable internet-enabled devices is surging as internet is getting integrated into the lives of young tech-savvy individuals. Nearly 40% of the population has yet to cross the age of 15 and start looking for their own smartphones. Seventy-six million mobile broadband users in Pakistan today can easily double to 150 million by 2025.
As per Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, mobile-phone imports reached half a billion dollars in the Jul-Nov period of 2019. At this pace, full-year imports are expected to be over $1.2 billion.
Promoting local manufacturing, together with exports, will start balancing that import bill.