A representational image of a mobile shop in Pakistan. — AFP/File 

Despite worrying economic indicators and financial woes that have gripped Pakistan, the country’s mobile industry has managed to defy the odds stacked against it by producing an impressive 84.4 million mobile devices between January 2019 and September 2023. 

The revelation, made in a Pakistan Telecommunication Authority’s (PTA) annual report, holds significance as the country has been gripped with rampant inflation which has significantly dented the people’s purchasing power.

The report highlights that local companies manufactured 25 million smartphones in the last five years.

Furthermore, the regulatory authority said that 33 local and foreign companies locally established manufacturing plants under the Mobile Device Manufacturing (MDM) Regulations introduced in 2021 — with these companies, operating both as standalone entities and through joint ventures, obtained a 10-year MDM authorisation.

The country also has initiated the export of locally manufactured handsets, with 120,000 SEEGO brand mobiles labelled as ”Manufactured in Pakistan” exported to the African market in December 2022.

The Device Identification Registration and Blocking System (DIRBS), introduced by the PTA, has provided a level playing field for foreign investments in the mobile device manufacturing industry in Pakistan.

In addition to promoting local manufacturing, DIRBS has been a source of revenue generation for the government, collecting Rs48.8 billion in customs duties in the individual category from January 15, 2019, to October 25, 2023. This revenue stream remained untapped before the implementation of DIRBS.

Leveraging this system, PTA has blocked 758,113 International Mobile Equipment Identities (IMEIs) which were reported as stolen.

DIRBS has also identified and blocked 35.5 million non-compliant IMEIs, including 7.3 million duplicate or cloned IMEI numbers.

The revelation holds significance as the country has been gripped by an economic crisis provisioning a deteriorating local currency, depleting foreign exchange reserves, and soaring inflation.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has also revised its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rate projection to 2% for Pakistan during the current fiscal year from its earlier projection of 2.5%.

Inflation in Pakistan registered a decline for the first time in three months, easing to 28.34% year on year in January 2024, according to the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS).

As per The News, inflation declined by 1.32%, down from the previous month’s 29.66%. However, on a month-on-month basis, it marked an increase of 1.8% over the previous month.

Despite this rise, inflation in Pakistan persists in the double-digit range, though it remains below the peak of 38% recorded in May 2023. In November 2023, the consumer price index (CPI) was at 29.2% and 26.9% in October. 

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