2021 has been a big year for the Pakistani tech and development sectors. Just to kick things off, according to PTA, Pakistan now has over 100 million broadband subscribers and 181 million mobile phone users.
From the first-ever electronic voting machine to the start of local production of smartphones and TVs by international companies, this year was packed with major achievements for the tech sector. Here’s a look back at Pakistan’s biggest achievements in the technology space during 2021:
Pakistan’s First E-voting Machine
In late February, the Federal Minister for Science and Technology, Fawad Chaudhry announced the development and use of e-voting technology for conducting fair and transparent elections.
The Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) were developed in collaboration with the National Institute of Electronics (NIE), National University of Science and Technology (NUST), and COMSATS University. As of September 2021, Pakistani-developed EVMs were confirmed to be successfully used in 10 different countries.
Amazon Adds Pakistan to List of Approved Sellers
On May 21st, Pakistan finally secured a spot on Amazon’s list of Approved Sellers. With Pakistan Post as the delivery partner, the approval presents a great opportunity for sellers, entrepreneurs, and SMEs.
Later in July, plans for the inauguration of Pakistan’s first Amazon Fulfilment and Facilitation Centre (AFFC) in Multan were revealed.
International Companies Start Producing Phones in Pakistan
In late February, Vivo, Airlink, and Advance Telecom stepped forth to establish production units in Pakistan. According to the Engineering Development Board (EDB), Vivo planned on establishing the unit in Faisalabad, Airlink in Lahore, and Advance Telecom in Karachi.
In July, Pakistani firm Lucky Motor Corporation Limited and Samsung set up a joint venture for a local assembly facility for mobile devices. Later in December, Samsung officially started the production of mobile devices in Pakistan.
Whereas, R&R Industries in collaboration with Samsung Electronics also stepped forward to establish the first-ever television development facility in Karachi.
Chinese manufacturer Oppo in September also announced its plans to upgrade its assembly plants to manufacturing plants in Pakistan. The company also planned on setting up a research and development center in the country.
Pakistan’s First E-Commerce University
The government plans on laying the foundation for the first Pakistani e-commerce university to help polish the skills of e-commerce traders and create employment opportunities.
The federal government also plans on launching the first e-commerce web portal developed by the Ministry of Commerce in collaboration with China’s Alibaba.
Pakistan’s First International Payment Gateway
In early February, the Ministry of IT and Telecom (MoIT&T) and the National Information Technology Board (NITB) announced plans for launching Pakistan’s first “International Payment Gateway (IPG).” The IPG will be beneficial for e-commerce retailers, traders, entrepreneurs, and many more.
CEO of NITB also revealed that a dedicated team was engaged with a foreign company to establish Pakistan’s international payment gateway. Through this platform, people outside of Pakistan will soon be able to pay through PayPal, Google Pay, and Apple Pay.
Elon Musk’s Internet Service Will Soon be Available in Pakistan
Famous billionaire Elon Musk’s Starlink (an internet-providing service) will soon be available in Pakistan. Operated by SpaceX, Starlink is a satellite internet constellation that provides internet access across the globe.
Starlink Pakistan has already been registered and will soon be operational.
Pakistan Ranked Among Top 30 E-Sports Earners in The World
In January 2021, Fawad Chaudhry announced E-Sports as an official sport in Pakistan. As of December, Pakistan ranks 29th out of 150 countries with the highest e-sports earnings.
Currently, Pakistan has a total of 278 professional players with combined total earnings of Rs. 845 million.
The tech sphere in Pakistan crossed a lot of barriers during 2021. Other major developments included:
Pakistan Ends Manual Visa Services
As of February 2021, Pakistan will no longer issue manual visas, following the government’s implementation plans of the E-visa regime. Non-resident Pakistanis and others planning on visiting the country will now have to apply through the official visa portal.
Spotify Comes to Pakistan
Swedish music streaming service, Spotify, finally stepped into the Pakistani market in February 2021.
With ad-free access for Spotify Premium among other features, the company aims to share the gift of music with as many people as possible across the globe.
Pakistan Becomes 3rd Biggest Contributor of Online Labor
In late February, the International Labor Organization (ILO) listed Pakistan as the third-largest provider of online services. Pakistan beat countries such as the United States and the United Kingdom in online professional services, creative and multimedia services, software development, and many other categories.
Pakistan’s Digital Mapping of Major Urban Centers
The Punjab Board of Revenue in late March started the digital mapping of urban centers across Punjab under the ‘Cadaster of Punjab’ project. It will help with urban planning and expansion for the biggest cities in the province.
K2 Gets 4G Coverage
In mid-May, 4G Base Transceiver Station (BTS) was installed at the K2 base camp area known as ‘Ali Sadpara’ in memory of the late mountaineer. The step is in line with the goals of the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) and other telecom operators in improving telecom services for boosting tourism.
Punjab Police Launched Women Safety App
The Punjab Police launched the Women Safety Mobile app in late August to help women contact authorities in case of emergencies. This is the first venture of its kind by the police department.