Pakistan becomes smartphone exporter

Published August 15, 2021
A representative image of mobile phones. — AFP/File
A representative image of mobile phones. — AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has become exporter of 4G smartphones by sending first-ever shipment tagged ‘Manufactured in Pakistan’ to the United Arab Emirates.

The first consignment of 5,500 mobile sets of 4G smartphones manufactured by Inovi Telecom was exported to the UAE on Friday.

However, the local manufacturers of mobile phone sets have stressed the need for an export supportive policy, allowing Pakistan to beat competitors in the Middle East region.

The Pakistan Telecommunication Auth­ority on Saturday congratulated the company for the achievement and hoped the exports of smart phones would increase further. “This is the result of concerted efforts for the development of mobile device manufacturing ecosystem in the country,” said the regulator in a statement.

First consignment of 5,500 4G sets shipped to UAE

Inovi Telecom Pvt Ltd was issued authorisation for mobile device manufacturing in April and it has managed to fulfill its first export order within four months. Chief Executive Zeeshan MianNoor said that their main target was to penetrate in low-end markets of Middle East including Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan.

“We are manufacturing the Chinese brands and there are a large number of expat workers in the Gulf countries,” he said, adding the hi-end consumers of Gulf countries prefer top world class mobile brands and we should not even try to get involved in that market.”

He said that the mass market of Gulf countries was their primary target, while the ordinary citizens of Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan too preferred mobile sets up to $100 each.

IT and Telecom Minister Syed Amin ul Haque told Dawn that favourable government policies have helped achieve the milestone of transforming Pakistan from a net mobile phone importer to an exporting country.

He added that conducive environment was being provided to the local mobile device manufacturing companies and the smuggling of mobile phones has been stopped through Device Identification Registration and Blocking System (DIRBS).

The minister added that the local manufacturers would eventually start moving towards assembling of high-end phones too after the production of spare parts for mobile sets commence next year.

On the other hand a senior player in the field has said that the government’s approach towards enhancing export markets was slow, keeping in view the changing scenario.

Transsion Tecno Electronics CEO Amir Allahwala said that overall exports of mobile set by China is over $140bn, but that was only due to low labour cost, which has now increased significantly.

“The Chinese are moving towards high-tech items and shifting their mobile set manufacturing to countries like India, Vietnam, Indonesia and Bangladesh,” he said.

He added that labour cost was very high in Vietnam and Indonesia and Chinese businesses are not expanding in India anymore due to mounting political tensions.

“Now Pakistan is the only player left to compete with Bangladesh, but is the government ready to provide same level of facilities to us too?” he asked. “We have proved that investors can meet the targets but the future of mobile set exports depends on the government policies,” he remarked.

Published in Dawn, August 15th, 2021

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