ISLAMABAD: As imports are allowed, the mobile phone manufacturing units have resumed their production, currently satisfying up to 90 per cent of the country’s demand for phone sets.
Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) data showed mobile phone imports surged 77pc year-on-year to $179.47 million during July-August of 2023-24.
Pakistan Mobile Phone Manufacturers Association (PMPMA) Senior Vice Chairman Muzzafar Paracha believed that the easing of the opening of letters of credit for imports would help end the mobile phone shortages in the country. “Within two months the locally assembled sets are meeting around 90pc market needs,” he added.
He said almost all 30 mobile assembly units including three foreign brands have restarted their operations and up to 2m phone sets were currently being rolled out.
Arrival of imported phones surged 77pc in July-August
The government restricted the LCs opening due to the shortage of dollars and almost all the manufacturing units had been closed by the end of March.
Members of the association said that currently around $7m worth of high-end mobile sets were being imported, but that was not even 10pc of the market demand.
Meanwhile, PMPMA Senior vice-chairman Amir Allahwala said that local cellphone assemblers rolled out up to 3.5 million sets in a month including the smart and the feature phones.
“The local market needs are around three million sets per month as people replace their phones and many sets get damaged during usage,” Mr Allahwala said.
He added that Pakistan needed consistency in this regard so that many allied parts including chargers, batteries, handsfree, cable, etc., can be manufactured locally and export markets can be harnessed.
The mobile manufacturers have asked the government to allow the import of parts and components worth $170m every month to operate the industry at its full capacity.
Meanwhile, the mobile telephony service providers have also stressed encouraging local manufacturing of smartphones.
Jazz chief executive Amir Ibrahim said that the digital revolution is unlikely to take place in an environment where a substantial percentage of the population owns and uses 2G-only handsets.
“It doesn’t help that Pakistan still imports and encourages local assembly of non-internet-capable phones on a massive scale in this day and age,” he said, responding to the query about the importance of local assembling of mobile sets.
Mr Ibrahim was referring to the data released by PTA that from January 2021 to July 2023, Pakistan has locally manufactured/ assembled 54.67 million handsets, of which only 20.88 million are smartphones.
Published in Dawn, September 20th, 2023