Google's Head of Large Customer Marketing, South Asia, Lars Anthonisen believes Pakistan, that he describes as a fast emerging "digital-first country", will prove to be a good investment for entrepreneurs around the world.
Anthonisen believes that Pakistan is on its way to "produce one of the largest digital audiences in the world" and is, therefore, a growing market for foreign investors.
He listed five reasons for companies to expand their digital campaigns to Pakistan in a blog post he wrote for Think with Google, a platform that hosts expert analysis for e-commerce and digital branding in the Asia-Pacific region.
Take a look: The digital landscape of Pakistan
According to Anthonisen, Pakistan's fast-growing population means that it has an increasing number of people that go online every day.
He also refers to growing urbanisation in the country, where 40 per cent of total households live in cities. The rate of urbanisation in Pakistan is higher than that of India, which means there are more "potential customers".
Anthonisen says that Pakistan's economy — expected to be the fourth fastest growing economy in the world by the year 2030 — is largely driven by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Around 90 per cent of the businesses in Pakistan are SMEs that have a 40 per cent share in the country's gross domestic product.
Increasing number of smartphone users
Pakistan has a sizeable online population due to decreasing smartphone prices and cheap data packages. About 59 million people in Pakistan use smartphones, out of which 83 per cent have Android devices, Anthonisen says. As smartphone prices continue to drop, the number of users is likely to increase.
Also read: 3G and 4G mobile internet users cross 30m milestone
As data prices are "some of the cheapest... in the world", the usage of mobile apps, like YouTube, is increasing.
Internet penetration at a 'tipping point'
Even though internet penetration in Pakistan stands at 22 per cent, Anthonisen claims that digital consumption in the country is on the rise. Currently, there are 4.46 million internet users in the country. He cites the increase in YouTube watch time as an example of increasing digital consumption. The video platform has witnessed a 60 per cent increase in its watch time over the past three years.
Exclusive: The CPEC plan for Pakistan’s digital future
According to Anthonisen, the Chinese-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) programme is China's largest investment in a foreign country. One of the projects of that are part of CPEC is the laying of 820 kilometres of fibre-optic cable, that will connect more Pakistanis to the digital world.
Anthonisen advises businesses to "leave a mark" on Pakistan's growing online market to grab the "endless opportunities that it can offer to investors.