Pakistan imported mobile phones worth $1.535 billion during July-March (2020-21) as compared to $979.965 million in July-March (2019-20), showing a growth of 56.74 percent, according to data from the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS).
The overall telecom imports into the country during the period under review had increased by 43.76 percent by increasing from $1.337 billion in 2019-20 to $1.923 billion during the current fiscal year.
On a year-on-year (YoY) basis, the imports of mobile phones by Pakistan had increased by 95.58 percent during March 2021 as compared to the imports in the same month last year.
The data from the PBS showed that the imports of mobile phone imports during March 2021 were recorded at $224.502 million against imports of $114.786 million during March 2020.
On a month-on-month (MoM) basis, the imports of mobile phones had increased by 27.69 percent in March 2021, compared to imports of $175.821 million in February 2021.
On a YoY basis, the overall telecom imports by Pakistan had increased by 78.28 percent during March 2021, compared to the imports of the same month of last year.
The telecom imports during March 2021 were recorded at $303.564 million against the imports of $170.273 million during March 2020. On an MoM basis, the overall telecom imports had increased by 27.95 percent in March 2021, compared to the imports of $237.257 million in February 2021.
Other apparatus imports during July-March (2020-21) had increased by 8.24 percent by going up from $357.890 million in 2019-20 to $387.366 million during the current fiscal year.
According to the sector experts, the implementation of the Device Identification, Registration and Blocking System (DIRBS) has resulted in a significant increase in the legal import of mobile devices. Further, it had helped in the establishment of over 33 local assembly plants of mobile devices.
Since the implementation of the system, these plants have produced over 25 million mobile devices, including 4G smartphones. With the successful execution of the DIRBS, the local assembly industry has evolved from infancy to a well-growing stage, with significant growth in the local assembly of smartphones.
In 2019, only 119,639 smartphones had been assembled locally, but the number of such devices had grown to 2.1 million in 2020. At the end of the second month of 2021, 1.21 million smartphones had been assembled in Pakistan.
In light of this impact of the DIRBS, the Government of Pakistan has introduced a comprehensive Mobile Manufacturing Policy to encourage and attract manufacturers to Pakistan to set up their plants here. The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has issued Mobile Device Manufacturing (MDM) Regulations and has started receiving mobile device manufacturing applications. This initiative will facilitate the creation of more jobs in this technological sector and will enable consumers to buy locally-manufactured mobile devices.
Pakistan has the distinction of implementing the world’s first open-source, full-fledged DIRBS that can identify all the IMEIs latched onto Pakistan’s mobile networks and can categorize them based on their compliant statuses.
The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), with the help of the PTA, has collected around Rs. 100 billion since the implementation of the DIRBS as mobile devices imports via legal channels increased by around 70 percent.
According to the data released by the PTA, the import of mobile devices via legal channels had increased from 17.2 million in 2018 to 28.02 million in 2019 (63 percent increase) due to the implementation of the DIRBS.