Pakistan is on track to becoming a booming internet market. With all the infrastructure prerequisites in place, Pakistan has the potential to reach top 10 internet markets — in terms of size — with-in next couple of years.
With over 190 million population, 116 million verified mobile phone users and amazing internet growth during past year and a half, it is apparent that internet usage will explode during next few years.
Not to mention, after tapping urban areas, mobile phone companies are ready to stretch their 3G and 4G networks to rural areas to grab first time internet users and that’s when the real addition in internet users is going to take place.
Telenor, for instance, after converting more than one-third of its towers in urban and high ROI areas to 3G, is gearing up to reach farther areas and places where there is no prior internet infrastructure — wired or wireless– available. More or less same is the case with other network operators.
Pakistan to have 60 million plus internet users with-in next 3-5 years, a number that will rank Pakistan above France and UK in terms of number of subscribers
These first time internet users are going to be vital and game-changers for variety of stake holders, ranging from telcos to banks, publishers to advertisers, brands to manufacturers and beyond. This new internet population is going to be eager, exited, passionate and ready to be taken on-board to explore the wonders of the internet.
Estimates and unverified data suggests that Pakistan is going to have 60 million plus internet users with-in next 3-5 years, a number that will rank Pakistan above France and UK in terms of number of subscribers.
With massive untapped market, these penetration trends are likely to remain positive for at least a decade or beyond, hinting that Pakistan is a place where internet boom is just about to happen.
Capitalizing On the Internet Boom
With the stage all set, our response to opportunities that are surfacing through increase in internet penetration is going to be vital. The policies that govern the internet are going to shape up our economy for years to come.
This situation demands a very important and unconventional role from government and public sector as there are things that can’t be managed or arrange by private sector alone.
Regulating internet, friendly and welcoming attitude towards foreign investment, tax-relaxation for internet service companies, deployment and easy access of internet payment system for masses, general awareness, cyber crime laws, regulating e-commerce industry are few to-do things that government must take up to make sure that internet usage is reaped positively for the national economy.
Internet has potential to become largest revenue generating sector for the country!
Private sector, in response, will automatically invest in areas that have potential of offering 3 digit YoY growth.
As an example, look at AliBaba and the way it used massive Chinese population to make available their products to the world and in the process, took Chinese economy to a stage where is has surpassed USA.
Pakistan, just like China, has a significant population that can do wonders by manufacturing products that can be taken to global markets by internet companies for the benefit of everyone in the country. Markhor is one such example but there is potential of over 10,000 such ventures in Pakistan.
There are plenty of other examples where companies that were started only because of the internet went on to become major contributors to the economies of the countries they are in. Take any of Google, Apple or even Amazon for example. All of them employ a huge workforce, generate massive revenues and taxes and are major players in the stock market. Samsung is another example. The company alone is responsible for 20% of South Korea’s GDP.
When you look at local trends, it’s not far fetched to think we could be seeing companies that have a significant contribution to the economy. For instance, look at Daraz.PK, or other online stores that are generating 100 or even 1000X more orders than any retail or offline store.
There is no better time for the government to look at the potential the internet could play in our economy
Its very simple to understand that a store in Hafeez Center, Lahore, will have 1,000 walk-in customers a day, or say 5,000 walk-in customers a day at best as compared to several hundred thousand potential customers that are grabbed by online stores.
With internet, you are simply widening your audience with a scale that has no geographical limits and anyone and everyone can come to you — given you have a product that is worth it. The internet is a great equalizer of opportunity in this way. It might give you access to a ton more users but competing against a variety of other distractions and competition, it ensures only the cream rises to the top.
There is no better time for the government to look at the potential the internet could play in our economy. Outlook from powerhouses like the IMF, World Economic Forum and others have all praised our country’s economic growth and potential to be the next big success story. How we bring online our population and how we empower them is going to be a major factor in determining whether we become one or not.
The internet has the ability to make anyone self sufficient if they are resourceful enough and providing that opportunity to everyone could do wonders for our economy that can’t be matched by any policy change. Here’s to hoping that the upcoming technology and internet boom helps take Pakistan to newer heights.