Bill Gates, with his tech-giant Microsoft, has shown interest in exploring business and investment opportunities in Pakistan. The letter was delivered to PM Imran Khan by Dr Christopher Elias, President of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s Global Development Division, in a meeting on Tuesday. In the said letter, Gates expressed the desire to invest in Pakistan and explore the potential market here.
Elias also added Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will continue to invest in Pakistan for the improvement of the healthcare system and eradication of poliovirus. Commenting on it, Prime Minister Imran Khan added that polio is a public health emergency in Pakistan, considering the fact that we remain among the two countries still plagued by it while rest of the world has successfully eradicated it.
“Polio vaccination activities are well organised in close collaboration with the provinces and are directly overseen by the national, provincial and divisional task forces” – he added.
“The government is determined to implement a transformative social and economic agenda for a ‘New Pakistan”’ – Khan added.
Pakistan, a soon-to-be Digital First Country
In the upcoming future, Google sees a lot of potential in Pakistan’s digital sector. The country is destined to become the fourth fastest economy by 2030 as Pakistan’s economy grew by 5.7% during the fiscal year 2018. And we owe the penetration of internet for the optimism, technology experts say.
The technology giant Google says, ”Pakistan is likely to become a digital-first country” – that means the future promises innovative and improved opportunities for businesses and brands to reach consumers.
Vice President of Growth at Fishry.com and Vice Chairman of P@SHA, Badar Khushnood says that the tech giant has realised Pakistan’s potential market.
”It shows that Google has realised the marketing potential of the country and they are now encouraging businesses to focus on Pakistan as a potential market”
According to Google, there are five significant motivating factors to consider expanding digital campaigns into Pakistan. Among them, Pakistan’s growing population stands at number 1, Pakistan has a population of staggering 202 million people, which means there is an increasing number of potential users and daily consumers.
”The country is even more urbanized than neighbouring India, with nearly 40% of total households living in cities” – says the Head of Large Customer Marketing South Asia Google, Lars Anthonisen
The second reason is the improving economy. HSBC in their recently published report (September 2018), project Pakistan to be the fourth fastest growing economy by 2030. According to the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), 90% of companies in Pakistan are SMEs that are contributing over 40% in the country’s 313 billion economies.
The third attraction as defined by Google is the country’s growing smartphone users. According to Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), Pakistan has 152 million phone users and 60 million have subscribed to 3G/4G services. Pakistan also has one of the cheapest data prices in the world, which is contributing to increased mobile usage.
A member of Prime Minister’s newly formed task force on IT and Telcom, Pervaiz Iftikhar says that more work is required to fully utilize the potential. He said that we need to work on the penetration of 4G, optic fibres, the creation of data centres, telecom infrastructure and increase awareness among people.
The country’s internet penetration is 29.9% with 62 million broadband subscribers – which Google describes as the fourth attraction for international investors. The digital consumption in the country appears to be rapidly rising, which can be reflected by the fact that YouTube watch time has seen a growth of 60% over the last three years.
Finally, the last attraction for the international digital market is CPEC (China-Pak Economic Corridor). CPEC is the largest Chinese investment venture in Pakistan with around 62 billion dollars. The project is not only limited to infrastructure and energy sector but is also contributing effectively to the IT sector. One of the first CPEC projects is to lay down 820 km long fibre optic cable, that will connect more Pakistanis to the internet. Another $225 million investment in 4G expansion has been announced by China Mobile.
”A lot of potential exists in IT sector of Pakistan with young population turning to computers, smartphones and digital means and the country offers a big market for local and foreign investors” – says Jehan Ara, another member of PM’s taskforce on IT and telecom
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