Pakistan imported mobile phones worth $1.860 billion during July-May (2020-21) compared to $1.138 billion during July-May (2019-20), showing growth of 63.40 percent, according to the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) data.

The overall telecom imports into the country during the period under review increased by 47.18 percent by going up from $1.587 billion in 2019-20 to $12.337 billion during the current fiscal year.

On a year-on-year basis, the imports of mobile phones into Pakistan increased by 58.03 percent during May 2021, compared to the imports of the same month of last year.

The mobile phone imports during May 2021 were recorded at $175.501 million against the imports of $111.056 million during May 2020, the PBS data revealed.

On a month-on-month basis, mobile phone imports decreased by 17.79 percent in May 2021, compared to the imports of $148.992 million in April 2021.

On a year-on-year basis, the overall telecom imports into Pakistan increased by 38.87 percent during May 2021, compared to the imports of the same month of last year.

The telecom imports during May 2021 were recorded at $22.696 million against the imports of $158.925 million during May 2020.

On a month-on-month basis, the overall telecom imports increased by 14.27 percent in May 2021, compared to the imports of $193.137 million in April 2021.

During July-May (2020-21) other apparatus imports increased by 6.10 percent by going up from $449.299 million in 2019-20 to $476.709 million during the current fiscal year.

The Economic Survey 2019-20 noted that the Mobile Device Manufacturing policy has been approved to promote local manufacturing and assembly of mobile handsets. Pakistan enjoys low-cost labor advantage, a reasonably large home market having more than 178 million subscribers which have increased approximately 1 percent per month during last one year, 83.3 percent tele-density and efficient Device Identification, Registration and Blocking System (DIRBS) in place, which make Pakistan an attractive market for mobile assembly.

Government is all set to make the mobile phone manufacturing industry larger than the automobile in terms of turnover in a few years and employment is expected to grow manifold.

Due to the introduction of DIRBS, legal imports have increased significantly and local manufacturing has also picked up. The government decided to introduce a comprehensive mobile manufacturing policy to encourage and attract mobile manufacturing players to come to Pakistan and establish their plants. The mobile manufacturing policy was approved by Federal Cabinet in June 2020 and in light of this policy, PTA has published Mobile Device Manufacturing (MDM) Regulations on 28th January 2021. To date, 7 companies have obtained 10-year mobile device manufacturing authorization and will manufacture mobile devices including 4G smartphones within Pakistan.

The taxes/duties collected from individual consumers, which prior to DIRBS was an untapped area for revenue collection, stands at Rs 13.93 billion during the period January 2019 to March 2021. On the commercial import side, the revenue of Rs 22 billion during 2018-19 increased to 83 billion for the period from Jan 2019 to November 2020. This is a significant increase despite the economic slowdown caused by the pandemic.

Impacts of DIRBS on the economy
PTA has blocked 175 thousand devices IMEI reported as stolen through DIRBS
The system has also identified and blocked 26.03 million fake/replica mobile devices since 2019 identified as programmed with non-GSMA formation
The system has been successfully able to identify cloned/duplicated IMEI, whereby 657,645 IMEI were cloned against 4.24 million MSISDN The launch of DIRBS has also had a significant impact on the development of the mobile device ecosystem as companies now have a level playing field.
As per figures extracted from DIRBS, it is observed that there is substantial growth in 4G devices that are connected to local mobile networks and the pattern also shows a decline in the use of 2G, 3G devices with consumer appetite shifting towards 4G functionality devices.

This pattern listed below compliments GOP vision of digital Pakistan.

4G devices have seen a growth from 16 percent (Jan 2018) to 41 percent (Feb 2021)
3G devices have seen a drop from 19 percent (Jan 2018) to 8 percent (Feb 2021)
2G devices have seen a drop from 64 percent (Jan 2018) to 51 percent (Feb 2021).