Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Trump Vows to At Least Quadruple US-Pakistan Trade

Talking with the media during Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan's visit to the White House on July 22, 2019, US President Donald Trump said the United States “have a fantastic trade relationship (with Pakistan). I don’t mean we’ll increase it by 20 per cent. I mean, I think we can quadruple it. I think it could go — I mean, literally, it sounds crazy — you could go 10 times more. You could go 20 times more.” This is good news for Pakistan which has seen its exports stalled over the last 5 years. This has created a serious balance of payments crisis forcing the country to seek yet another IMF bailout.

US-Pakistan Trade Volume:

So what is the current volume of bilateral US-Pakistan trade?  The United States is currently Pakistan's largest export market accounting for 16% of the country's exports. The United States Office of the Trade Representative (USTR) website says that "Pakistan is currently our 56th largest goods trading partner with $6.6 billion in total (two way) goods trade during 2018. Goods exports totaled $2.9 billion; goods imports totaled $3.7 billion. The U.S. goods trade deficit with Pakistan was $783 million in 2018."

Pakistan's Exports to US: 

Pakistan's major exports to the United States are made up of garments and other textiles. In aggregate the apparel and textile industries accounted for 37.8% and 35.1% respectively of all U.S. imports from Pakistan in the 12 months to May 31, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence. Given Pakistan accounted for just 1.7% of U.S. apparel imports and 8.4% of textiles there may well be room for increased market share, particularly in light of US-China trade tensions.

Pakistan's Exports to the United States. Source: Standard and Poor Global


Pakistan's garments exports to the United States have jumped 12% in first quarter of 2019 from the same period a year ago, according to USITC Dataweb.  This double digit exports growth is being partly attributed to US President Donald's Trump ongoing trade war with China with the US government imposing 10% to 25% tariffs on certain Chinese goods. Pakistani rupee devaluation has also contributed to the nation's overall competitiveness.

Textile Exports to United States. Source: Bloomberg

American buyers are diversifying their supplier base away from China, the No. 1 exporter of these goods to the U.S. Already, Bangladesh is close to snatching the trousers-to-towel crown, according to Bloomberg News. Pakistan, at No. 6 last year, has grown its own shipments to the U.S. by almost 12% this year. It may overtake India, which has seen virtually no improvement.

Major US Importers of Pakistani Apparel: 

Who are the largest American importers of apparel and textile products from Pakistan? The largest importer of apparel and textiles from Pakistan in the past 12 months, aside from trade finance houses, has been Levi Strauss with 1,682 TEUs (Twenty Foot Equivalent Unit Containers) shipped. That followed a 101.5% year over year surge in shipments in 2Q. Other importers have also already been expanding their shipments. That was followed by JC Penney with 991 TEUs shipped after a 13.3% rise in 2Q while Adidas shipped 641 TEUs and grew by 9.9%, according to Standard and Poor Global Market Intelligence.

Biggest Importers of Apparel From Pakistan. Source: Standard and Poor Global


Pakistani Apparel Exporters: 

Pakistan's Interloop Limited based in Faisalabad is one of the largest manufacturers and exporters of apparel and textiles. The company recently raised nearly Rs. 5 billion on Karachi Stock Exchange to expand production of stitched denim designs for its clients including Levi’s and H&M. Interloop's major clients also include Nike, Reebok, Adidas, and Puma, as well as other major clothing retailers like Uniqlo and Target.

Pakistani Export Competitiveness: 

Pakistani apparel exports are becoming more competitive in international markets because Pakistani rupee has declined by almost 25% recently. This has wiped out the currency’s overvaluation adjusted for inflation differences with trading partners, as estimated by the IMF.

Average Annual Cost of Manufacturing Worker in US$ in Asia. Source: JETRO

Textiles industry is just one the export industries seeing exodus of manufactures and buyers from China.  Electronics industry is seeing similar moves. Engadget is reporting that Google is moving production of its US-bound Nest thermostats and motherboards to Taiwan. The Wall Street Journal has reported that Nintendo is shifting at least some production of its Switch console to Southeast Asia.

Last November, Nomura Securities strategists had said they expected Malaysia, Japan and Pakistan  to be the top 3 beneficiaries of import substitution triggered by US-China trade war escalation. Nomura's analysis is based on detailed study of 7,705 items which will be subject to tariffs and counter tariffs by US and China if the stand-off continues. Nomura developed two indices as part of its research on the subject: NISI (Nomura Import Substitution Index) and NPRI (Nomura Production Relocation Index). This is good news for Pakistan which has seen its exports stalled over the last 5 years. This has created a serious balance of payments crisis forcing the country to seek yet another IMF bailout.

Pakistan's Stalled Exports. Source: Standard and Poor Global

Summary: 

President Donald Trump at his July 22, 2019 White House meeting with Prime Minister Imran Khan vowed to at least quadruple trade with Pakistan.  It means the bilateral trade between the two countries could grow from the current $6.6 billion to at least $26.4 billion.  Pakistan's garments exports to the United States have jumped 12% in first quarter of 2019 from the same period a year ago, according to USITC Dataweb.  This double digit exports growth is being partly attributed to US President Donald's Trump ongoing trade war with China with the US government imposing 10% to 25% tariffs on certain Chinese goods. Pakistani rupee devaluation has also contributed to the nation's overall competitiveness. This is good news for Pakistan which has seen its exports stalled over the last 5 years. It has created a serious balance of payments crisis forcing the country to seek yet another IMF bailout.  Pakistan's Interloop Limited based in Faisalabad is one of the largest manufacturers and exporters of apparel and textiles. The company recently raised nearly Rs. 5 billion on Karachi Stock Exchange to expand production of stitched denim designs for its clients including Levi’s and H&M. Interloop's major clients also include Nike, Reebok, Adidas, and Puma, as well as other major clothing retailers like Uniqlo and Target.

Here's a discussion recorded prior to the Trump-Imran Summit in Washington:

https://youtu.be/Y6fFRSpuNh0




Related Links:

Haq's Musings

South Asia Investor Review

Can Pakistan Avoid Recurring Balance of Payment Crisis?

Pakistan Economy Hobbled By Underinvestment

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Pakistan-China-Russia Vs India-Japan-US

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Saturday, July 27, 2019

Imran Khan's Historic Washington Rally: The Largest Ever For a Visiting Foreign Leader

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan's rally drew nearly 30,000 Pakistani-Americans to Capital One Arena on Sunday, July 21, 2019. It was the largest ever public gathering of any diaspora to welcome a foreign visiting leader in the United States. Earlier record of 18,000 was set by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's rally at New York City's Madison Square Garden in 2014.

Prime Minister Imran Khan Addressing 30,000 Pakistani-Americans at Capital One Arena in Washington DC
Pakistani-Americans' Rally at Capital One Arena:

Coming a day prior to the prime minister's official meetings with President Donald Trump and the US Congressional leaders, the 30,000 cheering supporters at Capital One Arena boosted the confidence and the legitimacy of the Pakistani leader in the eyes of the US government leadership in the White House and on Capitol Hill. It also put on full display the increasing numbers and the growing clout of the Pakistani-American in their adopted home.

Asians in America. Source: National Geographic

There are over half a million Pakistani-Americans and nearly 4 million Indian-Americans in the United States,  a ratio of one-to-eight. However, enthusiastic Pakistani-Americans managed to pull off a bigger rally for their leader than the Indian-Americans did for their Prime Minister back in 2018.
Prime Minister Imran Khan with President Donald Trump in the Oval Office

Imran Khan Meets President Trump:

On July 22, 2019, Prime Minister Imran Khan was warmly welcomed by President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania who tweeted her pictures with visiting leader.  Prime Minister Imran Khan reminded the President that he has always believed that there is no military solution to Afghanistan. The only way to end America's longest war is through a political process involving negotiations with the Taliban.

Rep Sheila Jackson Lee and other Members of Pakistan Caucus With PM Imran Khan

Speaking with the media in a joint press conference with Prime Minister Imran Khan in the Oval Office, President Trump said: "It's my honor to have the very popular and great athlete, the Prime Minister of Pakistan at White House". The President added that Pakistan was helping the US to "extricate" US troops from Afghanistan, through political negotiations.

President Trump offered to mediate in the India-Pakistan conflict in Kashmir. He said that he was making the offer after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi requested that he "mediate or arbitrate" in the long running dispute between two South Asian neighbors."If I can help, I would love to be a mediator," Trump said in the Oval Office. "If I can do anything on that let me know."

Prime Minister Imran Khan with Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Capitol Hill

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Capitol Hill:

US Congress Speaker Nancy Pelosi welcomed Prime Minister Imran Khan on Capitol Hill on Tuesday. She said US-Pakistan relations are "important" and thanked Pakistan for the "beautiful gift" of Pakistani Americans that she said the country had given to the US. She was joined by a large number of members of the House of Representatives and the Senate.

The United States House of Representatives passed resolution H. RES 506 "welcoming the inaugural visit to the United States of the 22d Prime Minister of Pakistan and continuing support and commitment to the long and enduring friendship between the United States and the Islamic Republic of Pakistan".

The House Resolution acknowledged the "significant role of the Pakistani-American diaspora in building bridges of friendship between Pakistan and the United States; and... encourages people-to-people contact, particularly in the economic domain, as the way forward in rebuilding the bilateral relationship into an enduring partnership."

PM Imran Khan Signing "Dil Dil Pakistan" Cricket Bat For Congressman Swalwell

Many congressmen with large numbers of Pakistani-American voters were particularly eager to have their pictures taken with Prime Minister Imran Khan. San Francisco Bay Area Rep Eric Swalwell tweeted: "Representing one of the largest Pakistani-American congressional districts in the country, it was an honor to welcome #Pakistan PM @ImranKhanPTI to #America. A former cricket star, he was kind enough to sign a bat I bought in #Islamabad."

Silicon Valley Rep Ro Khanna and Members of Pakistan Caucus With PM Imran Khan

Another Congressman, Rep Ro Khanna representing Silicon Valley, tweeted: "Honored to meet PM Imran Khan. We spoke Hindustani, and I shared that my grandfather, an Indian freedom fighter with Gandhi, always had a hope for reconciliation. South Asian Americans of my generation hope for peace in the subcontinent in the 21st century."

Imran Khan at USIP:

Prime Minister Imran Khan was a guest at the United States Institute of Peace (USIP), a Washington DC think tank funded by the US government. He was interviewed by USIP President Nancy Lindborg in front of a live audience. In response to a question, the Prime Minister called for “a relationship as equals, of friendship,” rather than, “as it has been before,” with Pakistan “wanting aid from the U.S. and then for aid Pakistan is expected to do certain things. The reason why I'm happy leaving the U.S. this time because we have a relationship now based on a mutual interest, which is peace in Afghanistan.”

Summary:

Prime Minister Imran Khan's successful historic visit to the United States has brought into sharp focus the increasing numbers and growing clout of the half a million strong Pakistani-American community. The 30,000 Pakistani-Americans who attended the rally at Capital One Arena in Washington DC made it abundantly clear that the community has "arrived". Several Congressmen whose districts have significant numbers of Pakistani-Americans tweeted their pictures with Imran Khan. The House resolution welcoming the Prime Minister also acknowledged the "significant role of the Pakistani-American diaspora in building bridges of friendship between Pakistan and the United States; and... encourages people-to-people contact, particularly in the economic domain, as the way forward in rebuilding the bilateral relationship into an enduring partnership."

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Monday, July 15, 2019

Algorithm: Origins of Artificial Intelligence in Islamic Golden Age

When Gmail completes your sentences or Netflix offers you recommendations for movies to watch, do you wonder where it all came from? Do you know how airplanes fly or autonomous vehicles drive on auto-pilot? What algorithms are used to make it happen? Who made these possible? Where did the word "algorithm" come from? Have you heard of Mohammad ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi?

Al-Khwarizmi:

The word algorithm comes from Muhammad al-Khwarizmi, the name of a Muslim mathematician and scientist who developed the concept of algorithms. He was appointed the head of the House of Wisdom (Darul Hikma) in Baghdad in 820 AD. He is also credited with the invention of Algebra (hisab al-jabr). Darul Hikma, also known as the Grand Library of Baghdad, was a major public academy and intellectual center in Baghdad during the Abbasid rule.


The House of Wisdom was founded by Caliph Haroon al-Rashid in the late 8th century that later turned into a public academy during the reign of Al-Ma'moon. It was destroyed by the Mongols in the Siege of Baghdad in 1258, leaving very little archaeological evidence.

AI Algorithms:

An algorithm is a step-by-step procedure developed for accomplishing specific tasks. In artificial intelligence (AI), algorithms help  accomplish tasks that used to require human judgment —such as flying airplanes, driving vehicles, composing emails and making recommendations for books and movies. High-powered computers help execute these algorithms at high speeds.

Social media platforms like Facebook and Google have long used AI algorithms relying on user profile data to help advertisers target potential customers.  Now, under tremendous pressure from governments and civil society, the companies operating social media platforms are attempting to use AI algorithms for censoring hate speech.

Such algorithms are designed to be self-learning. They are trained by feeding lots data and examples selected by humans to help their ability to make judgements. Success rate of these algorithms improves with more data over time.


Artificial Intelligence Applications

Muslim Contributions to Math and Science:

A recent Twitter poll by Texas-based American journalist Wes Trueblood III asked the question: “Should schools in America be forced to teach Arabic numerals as a part of their curriculum?” He was shocked to see that 90% of respondents said "No".  It was obvious that they did not know the fact that Arabic numerals are already taught in American schools because all mathematics today is based on Arabic numerals. And without mathematics, there can be no STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).

Most people today are unaware of how much the Islamic civilization has contributed to mathematics, science and technology.  Dick Teresi, author of 'Lost Discoveries', says it is partly attributable to the reluctance of the western scientists to acknowledge the work of Muslim scientists. The claim of Muslims as being mere "conduits" of knowledge has been rejected by Dick Teresi. Says Teresi, "Clearly, the Arabs served as a conduit, but the math laid on the doorstep of Renaissance Europe cannot be attributed solely to ancient Greece. It incorporates the accomplishments of Sumer, Babylonia, Egypt, India, China and the far reaches of the Medieval Islamic world.

Teresi describes the work done by Copernicus. Nasir al-Din al-Tusi, a Persian Muslim astronomer and mathematician, developed at least one of Copernicus's theorems, now called The Tusi Couple, three hundred years before Copernicus. Copernicus used the theorem without offering any proof or giving credit to al-Tusi. This was pointed out by Kepler, who looked at Copernicus's work before he developed his own elliptical orbits idea.

A second theorem found in Copernican system, called Urdi lemma, was developed by another Muslim scientist Mu'ayyad al-Din al-Urdi, in 1250. Again, Copernicus neither offered proof nor gave credit to al-Urdi. Columbia University's George Saliba believes Copernicus didn't credit him because Muslims were not popular in 16th century Europe, not unlike the situation today.

Tipler completely ignores the great contribution of another giant of science from the Islamic world, Ibn Haitham (Alhazen), who developed the "Scientific Method". Alhazen is also considered the father of modern optics. The ancient Greeks thought our eyes emitted rays, like a laser, which enabled us to see. The first person to explain that light enters the eye, rather than leaving it, was Ibn al-Haitham. He invented the first pin-hole camera after noticing the way light came through a hole in window shutters. The smaller the hole, the better the picture, he worked out, and set up the first Camera Obscura (from the Arab word qamara for a dark or private room). He is also credited with being the first man to shift physics from a philosophical activity to an experimental one.

The fountain pen was invented for the Sultan of Egypt in 953 after he demanded a pen which would not stain his hands or clothes. It held ink in a reservoir and, as with modern pens, fed ink to the nib by a combination of gravity and capillary action.

The algebra as we know today came from the Muslim world. Al Khwarizmi wrote the first book on algebra. The term "algebra" was first used by him. Al Khwarizmi was born about 790 in Baghdad, Iraq, and died about 850.

The word for "Algebra" comes from the Arabic word for "al-jabr" which means "restoration of balance" in both sides of an equation. Algebra was based on previous work from Greeks, Alexandrians in Egypt, and Hindus who had preserved the work from ancient Egyptians and Babylonians.

In the ninth century, al-Khwarizmi wrote one of the first Arabic algebras with both proofs and examples. Because of his work, he is called "the Father of Algebra." Al-Khwarizmi was a Persian born in the eighth century. He converted (changed) Babylonian and Hindu numerals into a workable system that almost anyone could use. He gave the name to his math as "al-jabr" which we know as "algebra".

A Latin translation of al-Khwarizmi's book on algebra appeared in Europe in the 12th century. In the early 13th century the new algebra appeared in the writings of the famous Italian mathematician, Leonardo Fibonacci. So, algebra was brought into Europe from ancient Babylon, Egypt and India by the Arabs and then into Italy.

In his 1864 book "The History of the Intellectual Development of Europe", English-born American scientist J.W. Draper wrote that “I have to deplore the systematic manner in which the literature of Europe has contrived to put out of sight our scientific obligations to the Mohammedans. Surely they can not be much longer hidden. Injustice founded on religious rancor and national conceit cannot be perpetuated forever".

University of Al Quaraouiyine:

University of Al Quaraouiyine (also spelled al karaouine) was founded by Fatima Al Fihri in 859 CE in Fez, Morocco. It is believed to be the world's oldest continuously operating university.

Al-Fihri, born in Kairouan (Qayrawan) in what is now Tunisia, was a well-educated daughter of a wealthy merchant. Her family migrated to Fez where she started the world's oldest continuously operating university named after her place of birth.

The University started as a madrassa affiliated with a mosque. It had the basic infrastructure and systems associated with modern universities. It had a formal curriculum, administered examinations and awarded degrees. It became part of the foundation of the glory days of the Islamic Civilization.

The University currently has staff and faculty of over 1000 and it has over 8000 students enrolled. The list of its most distinguished alumni includes Ibn Khaldun, widely regarded as the forerunner of the modern disciplines of historiography, sociology, economics, and demography. Other notable alumni are Jewish philosopher Maimonides,  Muslim philosopher Ibn Rushd (Averroes) and Muslim geographer Mohammad Al-Idrisi.

The world's second oldest continuously operating university is Al Azhar in Cairo, Egypt established in 970 CE.

Universities in Europe:

University of Bologna, the oldest university in Europe, was established in 1088 CE, more than two centuries after  University of Al Quaraouiyine was founded by Fatima Al-Fihri in Fez, Morocco.

Then came Oxford University in 1096, Salamanca University in 1134, Paris University in 1160 and Cambridge University in 1209.

Brigham Young University (BYU) history professor Glenn Cooper has traced the concept of receiving a degree to Islam and is associated with completing a set curriculum. The ceremonial cap and gown used in graduation ceremonies is also a legacy of Islamic tradition.

Rise and Fall of Islamic Civilization:

Where did star names like Ain ( عين),  Betelgeuse (إبط الجوزاء ) and Cursa ( الكرسي) come from? Who named Californium and Berkelium elements of the periodic table?  Famous American scientist Dr.Neil deGrasse Tyson answered these and other questions in some recent video presentations.

Neil deGrasse Tyson is an American astrophysicist, cosmologist, author, and science communicator, according to Wikipedia. Since 1996, he has been the Frederick P. Rose Director of the Hayden Planetarium at the Rose Center for Earth and Space in New York City.

What Dr. Tyson describes as "naming rights" simply means that those who discover new things get to name them. Californians got the naming rights to some of the elements of the periodic table  while the Arabs got to name vast majority of the stars in the Cosmos. In modern western astronomy, most of the accepted star names are Arabic, a few are Greek and some are of unknown origin.

Continuing on the naming rights theme, Dr. Tyson also describes the Islamic origins of Arabic numerals, Algebra, Algorithm, Alchemy and Alcohol as products of the Islamic Golden Age of Science in 800 to 1100 AD.

The lesson Dr. Tyson draws from the rise and fall of Muslims is as follows: Islamic civilization remained dominant in sciences and mathematics as long as Muslims practiced Ijtihad to ask questions and find answers to questions. What led to their decline was Taqlid, the unquestioning faith in Revelation.

Dr. Tyson credits the great Muslim philosopher Alhazen (Abū ʿAlī al-Ḥasan ibn al-Ḥasan ibn al-Haytham 965-1040 AD) with inventing the modern scientific method. Alhazen questioned everything, especially the things everyone took for granted, says Dr. Tyson. Alhazen's work was lavishly funded by the Muslim Caliphs. All of it changed when Imam Al Ghazali, or Algazel, a highly influential Islamic scholar of his time, succeeded in persuading Muslims to accept Taqlid that triggered rapid decline of the Islamic world.

Dr. Tyson has used the example of the great Islamic Civilization's decline to warn Americans against repeating it. He has particularly targeted those in America who denounce Darwin's theory of evolution or reject the validity of climate science.

World Changing Inventions/Discoveries:

While the concept of universities has had the biggest impact on the world, there are several other innovations and-or discoveries by Muslims that have changed the world. A short list includes coffee, Algebra, marching band and camera. Here is a video about the top 5 Muslim inventions that changed the world:

https://youtu.be/CC6CkdsuN-k




Related Links:

Haq's Musings

South Asia Investor Review

Rise and Fall of the Islamic Civilization

Artificial Intelligence in Pakistan

Pakistani Woman Leads Global Gender Parity Campaign

Muslims Have Few Nobel Prizes

Ibn Khaldun: The Father of Modern Social Sciences

Obama Speaks to the Muslim World

Lost Discoveries by Dick Teresi

Physics of Christianity by Frank Tipler

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How Islamic Inventors Changed the World

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Sunday, July 14, 2019

PM Imran Khan Meets President Trump Amid Improving US-Pakistan Ties

How much have US-Pakistan ties improved since President Trump's "lies and deceit" tweet on Pakistan? Has Trump completely abandoned the tough Pakistan policy recommended by the 2017 Husain Haqqani-Lisa Curtis paper? What do the US actions such as backing Pakistan's IMF bailout and BLA terror listing suggest?

What should be on top of Imran Khan's agenda when he meets President Trump at the White House on July 22, 2019? Economy? Investment? Trade? Energy? Security? FATF? IFI loans? How can the US best help Pakistan?

Why has the Trump administration changed its Pakistan policy? Does it have anything to do with Afghanistan? How is Pakistan supporting the US-Taliban peace dialogue? Why has US ignored the pro-India Kabul government to move forward with the Taliban? Why has the US agreed to include China and Russia in the efforts to end its war in Afghanistan?

Azad Labon Kay Sath host Faraz Darvesh discusses these questions with Sabahat Ashraf and Riaz Haq.

https://youtu.be/W0U3VfJq_AM





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Riaz Haq's YouTube Channel

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Pakistan Digital Media Advertising Growth Among World's Fastest

Rapid growth of broadband access in Pakistan is changing the country's media landscape. Digital advertising revenue is forecast to grow by 32% in 2019 to Rs. 10.8 billion ($103 million), 12% of total national advertising revenue (NAR), according to Magna Advertising. Digital marketing expert Lars Anthonisen believes Pakistan is quickly becoming a "digital first country". Anthonisen sees "new opportunities for brands to reach and engage with consumers who may have previously been overlooked". Overall ad spend in Pakistan is expected to rise by 15% in 2019 to Rs. 88.3 billion ($840 million) following a steep decline (-11%) in 2018, according to a Branding in Asia report. Growing availability of smartphones, tablets and mobile broadband is extending the reach of advertisers to digital media where it is possible to precisely target prospective customers.

Return to Media Growth in 2019: 

Magna expects to see a return to growth in Pakistani media revenue in 2019, with television, which makes up two-thirds of total NAR, benefitting from the 2019 Cricket World Cup (+15%), according to a Branding in Asia report.

In 2018, Pakistan media industry went through a major shakeout after a long period of rapid double-digit growth since the turn of the century. Hundreds of journalists and other staff lost their jobs last year.  It was a horrible year for Pakistani media industry which saw steep 11% decline in revenue during the year.

2019 Advertising Growth Forecast. Source: Magna
Digital Advertising Growth: 

Digital advertising is forecast to grow by 32% to Rs. 10.8 billion ($103 million), 12% of total national advertising revenue (NAR), according to Magna Advertising. Digital marketing expert Lars Anthonisen believes Pakistan is quickly becoming a "digital first country". Anthonisen sees "new opportunities for brands to reach and engage with consumers who may have previously been overlooked".

Growing availability of smartphones, tablets and mobile broadband is extending the reach of advertisers to digital media where it is possible to precisely target prospective customers. As of May 2019, there are over 70 million broadband subscriptions in Pakistan and more than a million new subscribers are are being added every month, according to data from Pakistan Telecommunication Authority  (PTA).

Pakistan Telecom Indicators. Source: PTA

Overall Media Market: 

Print and radio are likely to grow as well, now that the initial shock of the government’s strict reforms has worn off and a preliminary IMF bailout agreement has been reached. Digital formats, particularly social (+39%) and video (+31%), will continue to see the strongest growth, +32% to Rs. 10.8 billion ($103 million), 12% of total NAR.

The ad spend in Pakistan is expected to grow by 15% in 2019 to Rs. 88.3 billion ($840 million) following a steep decline (-11%) in 2018.   In 2018, Pakistan media industry went through a major shakeout after a long period of rapid double-digit growth since the turn of the century. Hundreds of journalists and other staff lost their jobs. At least one TV channel, Waqt News, was closed while several others downsized. While such consolidation was long overdue after nearly two-decade long period of explosive growth, the PTI government's decision to reduce advertising budget, which constitutes nearly a quarter of all ad spending in the country, appears to have been the main trigger. Those affected by consolidation are accused the government of exercising press censorship by cutting its ad spending.

Pakistan Broadband Growth:

As of May 2019, there are over 70 million broadband subscriptions in Pakistan and more than a million new subscribers are are being added every month, according to data from Pakistan Telecommunication Authority  (PTA).

China is aggressively pursuing its plans to build a global digital superhighway that runs through Pakistan. This "Digital Silk Road" involves laying fiber optic cables in Pakistan which connect with China to the north and link with Africa and the Arab World via undersea cable to be laid from Gwadar Deep Sea Port built as part of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

A 820-kilometer long China-Pakistan fiber optic cable has already been laid between the city of Rawalpindi, Pakistan in the south and the Khunjerab Pass, China in the north  and operational since July, 2018.

By 2020, the 6,299 kilometers of underwater cables will extend to Djibouti from Gwadar and form the Digital Silk Route between Asia and Africa. At the same time, a space-based Silk Road will provide satellite navigation support to all BRI (Belt Road Initiative) countries. The first Beidou base station of the Space Silk Road is already operational in Pakistan since 2017.  BeiDou is making rapid progress with 30 BRI countries already linked up.

When completed, the ambitious global initiative would use an exclusive satellite navigation system, BeiDou, fiber networks and 5G on land and submarine cables to create a multi-dimensional digital mega-project across land, sea and space.

Summary:

Rapid growth of broadband access in Pakistan is changing the country's media landscape. Digital advertising is forecast to grow by 32% to Rs. 10.8 billion ($103 million), 12% of total national advertising revenue (NAR), according to Magna Advertising.  Digital marketing expert Lars Anthonisen believes Pakistan is quickly becoming a "digital first country". Anthonisen sees "new opportunities for brands to reach and engage with consumers who may have previously been overlooked". Magna expects to see a return to media market growth in 2019, with television, which makes up two-thirds of total NAR, benefitting from the 2019 Cricket World Cup (+15%), according to a Branding in Asia report. Growing availability of smartphones, tablets and mobile broadband is extending the reach of advertisers to digital media where it is possible to precisely target prospective customers.

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Saturday, July 6, 2019

Pakistan Ramps Up Nuclear Power to Boost Low-Carbon Electricity

Construction of 1,100 MW nuclear power reactor K2 unit in Karachi has been completed by China National Nuclear Corporation, according to media reports. A similar reactor unit K3 will add another 1,100 MW of nuclear power to the grid, bringing the total nuclear power installed capacity of Pakistan to 3,630 MW (12% of total power) by 2022.  Hualong One reactors being installed in Pakistan are based on improved Westinghouse AP1000 design which is far safer than Chernobyl and Fukushima plants.  In addition, Pakistan is also generating  9,389  MW (about 28% of total power) of low-carbon hydroelectric power in response to rising concerns about climate change.

Karachi Nuclear Power Plant (KANUPP):

With the placement of the outer containment shell, K2 is  now ready for containment and heat tests. It is scheduled to begin operations in 2020. It’s built using the Chinese HPR1000 technology, which features a dual containment design, with the outer containment providing additional protection for the primary containment.

Karachi Nuclear Power Plant K2 Unit Under Construction. Source: CNNC

KANUPP is Pakistan's first nuclear power plant where construction started in 1966 in Karachi. The plant was connected to the national grid on 18 October 1972. KANUPP, a pressurized heavy water reactor of 137 MW gross capacity was constructed by Canadian General Electric under a turnkey contract. In 1976, vendor support for spare parts and fuel was withdrawn. The PAEC undertook the task of indigenously manufacturing the required spare parts and nuclear fuel on an emergency basis and, since 1980, KANUPP has successfully operated using fuel manufactured by the PAEC, according to International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Here is an except of IAEA's 2018 report on nuclear power in Pakistan:

"Despite the keen interest of Pakistan in building additional nuclear plants, it took more than two decades before the second nuclear power plant started construction. This delay was due to Pakistan’s lack of access to international nuclear technology coupled with a lack of indigenous industrial infrastructure. The construction of Pakistan’s second nuclear plant, C-1, a pressurized water reactor (PWR), was made possible in 1993 with the help of the China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC). The plant was connected to the national grid on 13 June 2000 and has a gross capacity of 325 MW. A third nuclear power plant, C-2, with 325 MW gross capacity started commercial operation on 18 May 2011. The fourth unit, C-3, started commercial operation on 6 December 2016. It has a gross capacity of 340 MW and a similar plant, C-4, sited beside C-3, was connected to the grid on 25 June 2017. The first concrete pours to mark the start of construction of Karachi Coastal Power Project, a project containing two nuclear units, K-2 and K-3 (1100 MW each), based on an improved PWR design, were 20 August 2015 and 31 May 2016, respectively."

International Energy Agency:

International Energy Agency (IEA) has recently warned that "steep decline in nuclear power would threaten energy security and climate goals". "With nuclear power facing an uncertain future in many countries, the world risks a steep decline in its use in advanced economies that could result in billions of tonnes of additional carbon emissions", the IEA has said.

Pakistan Among 31 Countries Operating Nuclear Power Plants


Nuclear is the second-largest low-carbon power source in the world today, accounting for 10% of global electricity generation. It is second only to hydropower at 16%, according to International Energy Agency (IEA). Pakistan nuclear plants are expected to generate 3,630 MW  (12% of total power vs 10% global average) by 2022.  Pakistan is also generating  9,389  MW (about 28% of total power vs 16% global average) of low-carbon hydroelectric power in response to rising concerns about climate change.

Nuclear Plant Safety Concerns:

Activists in Pakistan have raised serious concerns about potential risks from K2 and K3 plants to the population in Karachi. Are such concerns valid?

The worst nuclear disaster in the history of nuclear power generation was at Chernobyl in present day Ukraine. One of the key reasons was that the Chernobyl plant did not have the fortified containment structure common to most nuclear power plants elsewhere in the world. KANUPP K-2 and K-3 reactors have two containment shells: primary and secondary. It is noteworthy that Bhopal Union Carbide disaster was history's worst industrial disaster, far bigger in terms of human toll than the Chernobyl disaster.

China signed a technology transfer deal with the United States in 2006 that put the Westinghouse AP1000 reactor design at the “core” of its atomic energy program. Chinese reactor manufacturers also resolved to build advanced third-generation technology in their safety review after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear plant disaster.

Unlike Fukushima where underground emergency cooling system failed due to flooding, the Hualong One design stores water above the reactor that can be gravity-fed to keep it cool if the pumps fail in the event of meltdown. The Chinese HPR1000 reactors employ multiple redundant generators and cooling systems to lower meltdown risk.

Hydropower Generation:

The biggest and most important source of low-carbon energy in Pakistan is its hydroelectric power plants. Pakistan ranked third in the world by adding nearly 2,500 MW of hydropower in 2018, according to Hydropower Status Report 2019.  China added the most capacity with the installation of 8,540 megawatts, followed by Brazil (3,866 MW), Pakistan (2,487 MW), Turkey (1,085 MW), Angola (668 MW), Tajikistan (605 MW), Ecuador (556 MW), India (535 MW), Norway (419 MW) and Canada (401 MW).

New Installed Hydroelectric Power Capacity in 2018. Source: Hydroworld.com

Pakistan's Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) says commissioning of the 108-MW Golen Gol 2, 1,410-MW Tarbela 4th Extension and 969-MW Neelum Jhelum hydropower projects in 2018 boosted its hydroelectric generating capacity of 9,389 MW, an increase of 36% in just one year, according to Hydro Review. Hydropower now makes up about 28% of the total installed capacity of 33,836 MW as of February, 2019.   WAPDA reports contributing 25.63 billion units of hydroelectricity to the national grid during the year, “despite the fact that water flows in 2018 remained historically low.” This contribution “greatly helped the country in meeting electricity needs and lowering the electricity tariff for the consumers.”

Top 20 Countries by Newly Installed Hydropower Capacity. Source: IHA

Pakistan has the potential to generate 59,000 MW of hydropower, according to studies conducted by the nation's Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA). Currently, it's generating only 9,389 MW of hydroelectric power, about 16% of the estimated potential. Media reports indicate that China is prepared to finance and build another 40,000MW capacity as part of the development of the Northern Indus Cascade region which begins in Skardu in Gilgit-Baltistan and runs through to Tarbela, the site of Pakistan’s biggest dam, in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province.

Pakistan has made only a small contribution to climate change through carbon emissions.  And yet, it counts among the dozen or so nations considered most vulnerable to its damaging effects. These include rising temperatures, recurring cycles of floods and droughts and resulting disruption in food production.

Summary: 

Construction of 1,100 MW nuclear power reactor K2 unit in Karachi has been completed by China National Nuclear Corporation, according to media reports. A similar reactor unit K3 will add another 1,100 MW of nuclear power to the grid, bringing the total nuclear power installed capacity of Pakistan to 3,630 MW (12% of total power) by 2022.  Hualong One reactors being installed in Pakistan are based on improved Westinghouse AP1000 design which is far safer than Chernobyl and Fukushima plants.  In addition, Pakistan is also generating  9,389  MW (about 28% of total power) of low-carbon hydroelectric power in response to rising concerns about climate change. One of the ways Pakistan can help reduce carbon emissions is by realizing its full nuclear and hydroelectric power potential by building more nuclear plants and dams. The development of the Northern Indus Cascade region to generate 40,000MW of hydropower is a significant part of this effort.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

South Asia Investor Review

Nuclear Power in Pakistan

Recurring Cycles of Drought and Floods in Pakistan

Pakistan's Response to Climate Change

Massive Oil and Gas Discovery in Pakistan: Hype vs Reality

Renewable Energy for Pakistan

Digital BRI: China and Pakistan Building Fiber, 5G Networks

LNG Imports in Pakistan

Growing Water Scarcity in Pakistan

China-Pakistan Economic Corridor

Ownership of Appliances and Vehicles in Pakistan

CPEC Transforming Pakistan

Pakistan's $20 Billion Tourism Industry Boom

Riaz Haq's YouTube Channel

PakAlumni Social Network

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Pakistani EdTech and FinTech Startups Win Prizes in International Competitions

Two Pakistani technology startups have recently won recognition in international competitions.  Sabaq, an EdTech startup, has been shortlisted for Siemens Foundation’s global award. Another Pakistani startup Tez Financial Services in FinTech space has been selected as one of the winners of $100,000 Prize at 2019’s Inclusive Fintech 50.  Growing availability of smartphones, tablets and mobile broadband is enabling Pakistani technology entrepreneurs to offer technology-based solutions in multiple fields including education and financial services. These young ambitious entrepreneurs are beginning to attract venture investments from overseas. Tez Financial Services has received $1.1 million seed funding led by Omidyar Network.

Sabaq:

Karachi-based Pakistani education technology (EdTech) startup SABAQ has been shortlisted for Siemens Foundation’s global award. The award recognizes and endorses low-cost technologies providing vital services and solutions for daily needs in developing countries. Earlier this year, Sabaq was selected among the Top 6 Global EdTech startups at the Global Education and Skills Forum in Dubai.

Sabaq Tablet
Sabaq is among 11finalists selected from a 800 submissions from 86 countries.  It will be compete with other finalists for the top 3 spots in Cairo, Egypt next month. The award recognizes low-cost technologies providing vital services and solutions for daily needs in developing regions. Projects submitted are judged on their technical functionality, local adaptability, social impact, team structure, and financial and business sustainability.

SABAQ has partnered with the National Rural Support Program and identified communities where it has set up SABAQ Centers, non-formal learning spaces for out of school students who are taught using the meraSABAQ Tab. This is SABAQ’s custom-made android tablet that features the meraSABAQ app for primary level, each containing digital learning resources for Urdu, Science and Math, developed in-house in accordance with the national curriculum.

Sabaq Foundation is a non-profit organization that offers a tablet app and a website. The meraSabaq is a custom-made tablet designed to be used both by  experienced and new teachers across formal and non-formal learning environments.  Sabaq's website offers online video tutorials with free video lectures for Pakistani students. The website provides tutorials for four main science subjects -- Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry and Biology for secondary school students. The tutorials follow the exact syllabus of respective boards of education for Cambridge, Federal, Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) and Balochistan.

Tez Financial:

Tez Financial Services is a woman-led financial technology startup in Karachi, Pakistan.  It has Visa Everywhere Initiative Women’s Global Award after Worldwide Search. It is the first fully digital financial institution in the country providing financial services to the unbanked/underbanked population via a smartphone app.

Tez FinTech App
Last year, Tez Financial raised $1.1 million in a seed round led by Omidyar Network, the impact investment firm established by Pierre Omidyar, the founder of eBay. Other investors on this round include Accion Venture Lab, the seed-stage investment initiative of global nonprofit Accion; and Planet N. Funds will help the company build its credit portfolio, enhance its mobile technology platform, and secure the company’s NBMFC (Non-Bank Microfinance Company) license.

The Visa Everywhere FinTech competition measures how competing companies leverage their companies’ unique ability to solve or transform consumer and/or commercial payment experiences locally, regionally or globally.

The founders of Tez were previously involved in the creation of Tameer Bank, Easypaisa, and CheckIn Solutions.

Pakistan Telecom Indicators. Source: PTA

Technology Entrepreneurs:

Growing availability of smartphones, tablets and mobile broadband is enabling Pakistani technology entrepreneurs to offer technology-based solutions in multiple fields including education and financial services. As of May 2019, there are over 70 million broadband subscriptions in Pakistan and more than a million new subscribers are are being added every month, according to data from Pakistan Telecommunication Authority  (PTA). These young ambitious entrepreneurs are beginning to attract venture investments from overseas. Tez Financial Services has received $1.1 million seed funding led by Omidyar Network headed by E-Bay founder Pierre Omidyar.

Summary:

Two Pakistani technology startups have recently won recognition in international competitions.  Sabaq, an EdTech startup, has been shortlisted for Siemens Foundation’s global award. Another Pakistani startup Tez Financial Services in FinTech space has been selected as one of the winners of 2019’s Inclusive Fintech 50. Growing availability of smartphones, tablets and mobile broadband is enabling Pakistani technology entrepreneurs to offer technology-based solutions in multiple fields including education and financial services. These young ambitious entrepreneurs are beginning to attract venture investments from overseas. Tez Financial Services has received $1.1 million seed funding led by Omidyar Network.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

South Asia Investor Review

Digital BRI: China and Pakistan Building Fiber, 5G Networks

Afiniti and Careem: Tech Unicorns Made in Pakistan

Silicon Valley NEDians Digitizing Pakistan School Lessons

FinTech to Promote Financial Inclusion in Pakistan

AI Research Lab and Startup Incubator at NED University

NED University Ranked Among World's Top 200 For Impact

NED Alum Raghib Husain Sells Silicon Valley Company for $7.5 Billion

Pakistan's Research Output Growth Among World's Fastest

Pakistani Universities Ranked Among Asia's Top 500 Up from 16 to 23 in 2018

Pakistan's Tech Exports Surge Past $1 Billion in FY 2018

NED Alum Naveed Sherwani Raises $50 Million For SiFive Silicon Valley Startup

OPEN Silicon Valley Forum 2017: Pakistani Entrepreneurs Conference

Pakistani-American's Tech Unicorn Files For IPO at $1.6 Billion Valuation

Pakistani-American Cofounders Sell Startup to Cisco for $610 million

Pakistani Brothers Spawned $20 Billion Security Software Industry

Pakistani-American Ashar Aziz's Fireeye Goes Public

Pakistani-American Pioneered 3D Technology in Orthodontics

Pakistani-Americans Enabling 2nd Machine Revolution

Pakistani-American Shahid Khan Richest South Asian in America

Two Pakistani-American Silicon Valley Techs Among Top 5 VC Deals

Pakistani-American's Game-Changing Vision