The telecom sector posted the highest-ever revenue of Rs644 billion in fiscal year 2020-21 as compared to the revenue of Rs592 billion in the previous year.
The sector attracted $202 million in foreign direct investment (FDI) and contributed Rs226 billion to the national exchequer, according to Pakistan Telecommunication Authority’s (PTA) annual report for 2021.
During the year, an amount of $486 million was generated through spectrum auctions and licence renewals in the country.
Broadband service subscribers surged to 110 million, the report said, adding that around 50% of the country’s population subscribed to broadband, with bulk (49%) consisting of mobile broadband connections.
Broadband subscribers touched the milestone of 100 million in March 2021, it said.
Regarding the Device Identification, Registration and Blocking System (DIRBS), the report mentioned that the system proved productive for positioning Pakistan as a major manufacturer of mobile devices.
“PTA has so far issued mobile device manufacturing authorisations to 30 companies, attracting investments to the tune of $120 million, producing 10.1 million smartphones in 2021 and creating 2,000 jobs,” the report said.
Talking to The Express Tribune, SI Global CEO Noman Ahmed Said was of the view that the increase in revenue was expected, given the surge in use of telecom services in the country in recent times.
“It is heartening to see that the telecom sector secured $202 million in FDI,” he said. “This should remain our goal for 2022, to secure even more FDI and expand our operations locally as well as internationally.”
He emphasised the need for setting long-term goals, which “must be structured in such a way that they can be achieved”.
According to ICT expert Parvez Iftikhar, the telecom revenue in 2020-21 increased almost 9% in Pakistani rupees.
In dollar terms, the revenue increased around 7% over the previous year, “though they are still nearly a billion dollars less than what they were in 2017-18”, he said.
“Surprisingly, despite the increase in overall revenue, the contribution made to the exchequer (Rs225.8 billion) is lower than the previous year (Rs290.1 billion),” he noted.
He underlined that telecom and ICT (information and communications technology) services had spread nationwide, covering over 89% of the population with teledensity reaching 87% and cellular mobile penetration touching 86%.