Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Digital Transformation: Pakistan is Now Online!

Pakistan's digital transformation is in full swing. Over three-quarters of Pakistanis living in the top three metros of Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad are connected to the Internet, according to a report titled "Journey to Digital" produced by global tech giant Google and Kantara consultants. Researchers found that two-thirds of urban and nearly half of rural Pakistanis regularly use the Internet in the South Asian country of 220 million, the 5th most populous nation in the world. It has a young population with the median age of 22.8 years. 46% of Pakistanis access the Internet everyday.  They use the Internet for education, entertainment, shopping and to search for information.

Over Half of All Pakistanis Are Connected to the Internet. Source: Google-Kantar

Pakistan has seen a phenomenal growth of 3500% in broadband subscriptions over the last 8 years . Pakistanis now own more than 103 million smartphones with mobile broadband subscriptions. In a Youtube presentation of the report, Faraz Azhar, Industry Head, Performance, South Asia Frontier Markets, Google said: “With half of its population on the internet - Pakistan is now online!"  

Google Search and YouTube are the most popular Internet applications in Pakistan, according to the study. YouTube is used by nearly 90% of all internet users in Pakistan for streaming music and watching video/TV, and 38% of Pakistan's internet users go to YouTube in the research phase of their shopping journey. 

Pakistan has also experienced an e-commerce boom in the midst of the COVID pandemic. 71% of Pakistani shoppers find purchasing products or services online easy, while 66% find it convenient. Another 54%  find that online shopping websites or apps give personalized product recommendations, which answer common questions. Two-thirds of consumers believe that online shopping is the way forward. They say they will continue to buy products or services online after the COVID-19 pandemic.    

Faraz Azhar, Industry Head, Performance, South Asia Frontier Markets, Google said: “With half of its population on the internet - Pakistan is now online! This is the first time Google and Kantar released a study to understand more about Pakistan’s internet population. But it’s not only about people getting online, this research has uncovered new insights and behaviors that show how COVID is impacting online behaviour and the digital opportunities waiting to be unlocked.” 

Global Investors of Pakistani Startups. Source: Google-Kantar

"More people are coming online in Pakistan, creating a great opportunity for eCommerce businesses - if they are ready to seize it. As we see more exploration of the internet beyond social, e-retailers can capture natural cross-category purchasing on its rise, but only if they have first established themselves and their product offering in an online marketplace," he said.

Pakistan Startup Funding. Source: Google-Kantar

With expanding Internet infrastructure and rapidly growing user base, Pakistan is now seeing robust growth in venture money pouring into technology startups. Pakistani startups are on track to attract more than $230 million in funding in 2021, more funds than all the money raised by Pakistani startups in their entire history. A recent example is Kleiner Perkins, a top Silicon Valley venture capital investment firm, that led series A round of $17 million investment into Pakistani start-up Tajir. The startup operates an online marketplace for small store merchants in Pakistan. The announcement came via a tweet by Mamoon Hamid, a Pakistani-American Managing Partner at Kleiner Perkins who led the investment. Last year, Tajir raised a $1.8 million seed round.  The company's revenue has increased by 10x since its seed round. 

Pakistan Technology Exports Trend 2007-2021. Source: Arif Habib

Pakistan's technology exports are experiencing rapid growth in double digits over the last decade. Total technology exports jumped 47% to $2.1 billion in fiscal year 2020-21. 

Pakistan University Enrollment Growth. Source: Encyclopedia of Higher Education

The foundation for Pakistan's digital transformation was laid with the higher education reform and telecommunications deregulation and investments starting in the year 2001 on President Musharraf's watch. With huge increase in higher education funding, Higher Education Commission Chairman Dr. Ata ur Rehman succeeded in establishing 51 new universities during 2002-2008. As a result, university enrollment (which had reached only 275,000  from 1947 to 2003) soared to about 800,000 in 2008. This helped build a significant human capital that drove the IT revolution in Pakistan.      

Here's a video presentation of Pakistan's "Journey to Digital":


Ahmed said...

Dear Sir

Thanks for sharing this information, Sir is their branch office of Google and Youtube in Pakistan? As far as I know Microsoft and Cisco have their small offices in Pakistan.

Can you pls answer this question?


samir sardana said...

And so,the time has come for a Pakistani Digital Currency.

There will be a large number of people in Pakistan,who spend legally,and have no qualms,in paying indirect and direct taxes.This market will embrace the Digital PKR

The Digital PKR will bypass online banking,and crash the marketing costs of Pakistani companies,as online trade,will exponentially increase.

It will also provide valuable Data Analytics to SBP,as the trail and route of each Digital PKR,will be known and traced

The Digital PKR will also solve the problem of remittances by overseas Pakistanis and the issues with BTC price volatility.dindooohindoo

Jiye Jiye Pakistan !

Riaz Haq said...

Digital Pakistan Policy may be launched by end of August

ISLAMABAD: The Digital Pakistan Policy (DPP) 2021 is expected to be launched by end August 2021, envisaging providing the necessary elements to tab the digital global market, economic growth and citizen empowerment. This was stated by Member Information Technology (IT) of the Ministry Information Technology and Telecommunication Syed Junaid Imam, while addressing at a two-day consultative meeting on DPP 2021.

Oxfam in Pakistan and Bargad in collaboration with Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication (MOITT) organised consultative meeting on DPP 2021. The meeting discussed ways to include rural youth especially women, transgender persons, and disabled persons in the DPP 2021.

Participants were briefed about the process of developing the DPP 2021 by the ministry officials.

Imam said the DPP 2021 was being formulated through a comprehensive consultative process from all four provinces and the two regions (Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir).

He said the policy was a start to the digital era for Pakistan and would provide the necessary elements to tab the digital global market.

Digitisation is not only about business, it is also for providing services to marginalised groups. Overall objective of the DPP 2021 was economic growth and citizen empowerment, he added.

Sabiha Shaheen, executive director, Bargad said that policy design was as important as the policy implementation. The real issue is to make policy work for the marginalised groups in implementation. Seher Afsheen from Oxfam stressed the need for robust digital transformation.

Highlighting the benefits of a digital Pakistan, she shared how she foresees 'the DPP 2021' paving the way to enable growth and development, especially for the youth and women, who represent roughly 60 percent and 49 percent respectively of the population. Ensuring women and girls have equal access to Information Computer Technologies will help reduce inequalities, support gender equality, increase productivity, and improve access to health and education, thereby ensuring equitable participation in social, political and economic spheres, thus, breaking barriers of isolation.

Digital transformation can help in creating a future that is equal, where women and girls along with marginalised communities will be able to access better opportunities and live without the menace of poverty. Barkan Saeed, chairman PASHA, said the digital policy should specify actionable initiatives.

Rural youth need affordable internet, devices and skills to benefit from Pakistan's potential in export market globally. Raza Sukhera gave a presentation on the DPP.

The meeting was attended among others by officials of the MoITT and representatives of the Federal Commerce Ministry, Kamyab Jawan National Youth Development Programme and Office of the PM Advisor on Youth Affairs, Ministry of Planning, Development and Special Initiatives, Ministry of Law and Justice, Ministry of Climate Change, National Commission on the Status of Women, Islamabad Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IWCCI), Pakistan Software Houses Association for IT and ITES, Oxfam Youth Advisory Board (YAB), academia, INGOs, civil society and youth organisations/networks, private sector, incubators, practitioners of digital social enterprises, transgender persons, differently-abled persons, and parliamentarians. The day focused on sharing the findings and progress of DPP 2021 with the participants followed by group works around three pillars of the policy, which were an inclusion of (1) rural youth especially women, (2) transgender persons, and (3) differently-abled persons.

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan seeks WB’s technical, financial support to build digital infrastructure

The finance minister shared with the World Bank team that Pakistan would welcome the knowledge of the World Bank team to promote the skills of the IT graduates in the country. The World Bank team conveyed their willingness for providing guidance and informed that the Bank was preparing an operation on digital economy with the Ministry of Information Technology. In his concluding remarks the finance minister thanked the delegation for World Bank’s continued guidance and collaboration on various development projects.

The minister for economic affairs has also appreciated the World Bank’s continued support to Pakistan. He shared that 57 projects worth $ 12.9 billion are under implementation under WB’s financing in the priority areas such as education, health, social protection, finance, agriculture, energy and communication across the country. During the outgoing fiscal year, the government signed sixteen (16) projects worth $ 3.64 billion with World Bank. The minister also appreciated the World Bank for its global initiative amounting to $ 12 billion to help developing countries for procuring Covid-19 vaccines. He highlighted that Pakistan’s efforts to curtail the Covid-19 pandemic through smart lock down approach and addressing the socioeconomic challenges through fiscal stimulus package under the Prime Minister Imran Khan’s vision of lives and livelihoods is being highly recognised and appreciated by the global community.

While discussing the future interventions, the minister for economic affairs emphasised on enhanced connectivity in rural areas though improved road and digital networks. Rural roads connectivity is one of the key components for rural development. An efficient and reliable rural road network promotes access to social services such as health facilities and educational institutions and enhanced economic opportunities through increased agricultural income and employment. Similarly, cold storage is crucial to control the post harvest losses and price fluctuations of perishable commodities. The minister for economic affairs also highlighted that Pakistan has huge potential to enhance its IT exports. The minister proposed that World Bank may provide technical and financial support to build digital infrastructure including fiber optics network and incubation centres for specialised training and certification of IT experts.

samir sardana said...

And so,the time has come for a Pakistani Digital Currency.

It will also wipe out the Counterfeit PKR,floating in Pakistan,which is HOARDED in cash and never hits the banks - and so,is never detected,and is a GIGANTIC FRAUD,on the Poor and Agri and Urban labourers (who are paid in these notes)

Besides,INCENTIVES TO SPEND THE DIGITAL PKR,will also stimulate and direct consumption,into the right sectors,and ROTATE MONEY,INSTEAD OF HOARDING CASH OR BUYING USD OR GOLD !

An incentive to spend a digital PKR,in terns of price or deferred payments,will save costs to the buyer,Increase NSR to the manufacturer and also BOOST VAT to the state ! It is a WIN-WIN-WIN !

On Top of that,the Billions of USD wasted in Banking infra,and the power cost to run that infra, will be saved - FOREVER ! The Massive e-trail of the Digital PKR will also reduce the Tax Admin and Int Costs.

In essence,every Cell phone and Digital PKR owner,will become a MICRO BANKER,w/o a branch or an ATM or a Note Counting Machine or a Counterfeit checker or a HQ - id.est., the perfect banker !

In the Final Leg,if an informal float of the Digital PKR,is done with some ADs in East Asia,then the hawala racket in the PKR will END - as all recipients of the Digital PKR will be tracked - and there will always be a cross rate,of the Digital PKR - with the USD and the Yuan ! If Hawala ends then the Import Smuggling will also end !

Once the Digital PKR hits the EXIM chain - then the banks will exit the EXIM chain - as they will become obsolete !d indooohindoo

samir sardana said...

The Digi PKR is in the long term interest of Pakistani Banks.The Mafia Raj of Banks is OBSOLETE. The days of rippihg off retail in bank charges,Non maintenance charges,interest, debits,ATM charges,Debit card charges,bank statements,not paying interest on savings accounts,cheque books,going to banks for wires ....... is a goner.

Banks have to FOCUS ON CREDIT !

That is their core and only function.When they fail in that function,they start ripping off the hapless retail account holder.

If there are 100 million retail accounts in Pakistan,it is safe to say that Pakistani banks are ripping off,at least 35-50 USD per annum per person, in explicit and implicit costs. That is 3.5 - 5 Billion USD !

Banks will also save Billions in Banking Infra,and Bank IT software costs,which on a lifecycle costing - will be in the billions of dollars.

If Banks FOCUS only on CREDIT - the NPAs and Bank Frauds,will also reduce - and all this,is due to the Digi PKR.dindooohindoo

Providence has chosen Imran Khan,for this revolution.

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan's raises $1 million in seed funding
#Startup hopes to use this funding to boost growth of its #healthcare app. It has registered over 16,000 doctors from 67 cities of #Pakistan on its platform.

With the fourth wave of the Covid-19 pandemic disrupting lives and livelihoods across the country, health tech startups like look to target those who are in dire need of healthcare by improving accessibility to healthcare professionals.

Hamza, a patient who used’s services, also reviewed’s services and commended its efforts for providing on-spot services.

In addition to providing online healthcare services to patients all across Pakistan, also enables doctors in digitising their practices. The startup manages their appointments, patients’ records and feedback channel through its rating system.

“Our vision is to build a healthcare ecosystem," said Ehsan Imam, the CEO and Co-Founder of Marham. "I believe we are all set to do this because of the 1st mover advantage, well-equipped team, and the ability to sustain through bootstrapping”.

Marham has recently launched additional services for lab test booking and online medicine prescriptions, in an effort to cater to the current needs in the market, by partnering with the leading labs and pharmacy networks in Pakistan.

Asma Omer, Co-Founder and COO of Marham, said that for a developing economy like Pakistan, the digital platform will be a game-changer, as patients will be able to receive “quality healthcare from authentic doctors, which will be easily accessible and affordable”.

The startup currently has a team of over 80 employees, with plans to hire new members in different functions over the next few months.

Riaz Haq said...

Mobile Distributor Plans Pakistan’s Biggest Private Sector IPO

Air Link Communication Ltd. plans to raise at least 5.85 billion rupees ($36 million) through an initial public offering this month, which would be the largest from a non-state firm in Pakistan.

The Lahore-based company plans to sell new and existing shares at a price between 65-91 rupees each, Chief Executive Officer Muzzaffar Hayat Piracha said in a reply to queries Friday. It will take investor orders on Aug. 30 and 31 and then price the offering.

Pakistan has seen a record streak of IPOs this year. Air Link, which started operations about a decade ago and has since become one of the largest distributors of phones in the country, saw sales rise 50% to 3.6 million units in year ended June.

The company plans to issue 60 million new shares and Piracha will sell 30 million from his holdings, said Kamran Nasir, CEO at JS Global Capital Ltd., consultant and bookrunner to the transaction. The IPO will be the largest since Interloop Ltd. raised about 5 billion rupees in 2019.

Air Link, which has also recently expanded into mobile assembling, plans to use the funds to expand its distribution network. It aims to have 150 outlets by 2026 from 14 currently, which will boost margins together with the assembly business, said Nasir.

The company expects its revenue to triple to 129 billion rupees and net income surging 500% to 9.2 billion rupees by fiscal 2025 from 2020, according to Nasir.

Salih said...

But unfortunately all this is not that good, as 95% will be watching Ticktok, 4% YT,FB etc

Riaz Haq said...

Salih: "But unfortunately all this is not that good, as 95% will be watching Ticktok, 4% YT,FB etc"

Not necessarily can learn a lot by watching YouTube. There's a vast treasure-trove of knowledge and skills training in YT videos. #education #training #entertainment

Riaz Haq said...

In what seems like an odd move for all involved, Pakistan's telecommunication regulator – the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) – has announced approval for Lucky Motor Corporation (LMC) to manufacture Samsung mobile devices.

The local automobile manufacturer is a joint venture between Lucky Group and South Korea's Kia Motors, and manufactures and distributes Kia cars built in a purpose-built plant in Karachi's Bin Qasim Industrial Park.

"The authorization to manufacture Samsung Mobile devices in Pakistan is a landmark achievement and will further revolutionize the vibrant mobile manufacturing ecosystem in the country by ensuring presence of major local and foreign players in the market," declared the regulator.

The PTA has issued similar Mobile Device Manufacturing (MDM) authorizations to 25 foreign and local companies to produce the tech in Pakistan. The devices will be both sold in the country as well as exported.

Samsung and Lucky inked the deal back in July. The production facility will be located at LMC's existing Karachi auto plant and is scheduled for completion by the end of 2021.

PTA tweeted, celebrating the job opportunity potential stemming from the new plant:

Samsung's decision to partner with an automobile manufacturer may seem unusual but, according to Pakistani brokerage and research firm Topline Securities, Samsung has form setting up factories in the region to serve domestic and export markets. In Bangladesh, for example, Samsung uses a local factory established in 2018 to produce 95 per cent of the 2.5 million mobile devices sold in-country.

Pakistani English-language daily The Express Tribune offers another reason the Lucky Group could be interested: the paper reported this week that an increase in prices for steel and other raw materials, plus shipping cost hikes, have caused a rise in vehicle prices even as COVID-repressed demand for cars was gradually rebounding.

The deal means Lucky Group has diversified into more affordable products, while Samsung has boosted local capacity, given local buyers a good reason to consider its wares, and diversified its manufacturing base.

Ahmed said...

Dear Sir Riaz

I am sorry for asking this question here as I couldn't find any relevant post to ask this question.

Indians feel proud of their English and even visit youtube channels of Pakistan and newspages of Pakistan on facebook. They even brag about their proficiency in English Language.

Is it true that almost all Indians living in India and abroad are really that fluent and proficient in English?

Can you pls throw some light on this?


Riaz Haq said...

Ahmad: "Is it true that almost all Indians living in India and abroad are really that fluent and proficient in English?"

India ranks 50th in the world and 8th in Asia on English Proficiency Index. It scores 496 on English Proficiency Test.

Pakistan ranks 61st in the world and 11th in Asia on English Proficiency Index. It scores 478 on English Proficiency Test.

Both countries are categorized as "low proficiency" in English.

Monis R. said...

Pakistani startups and now collectively valued at about $3 Billion and growing fast. 6% of KSE so far.

Riaz Haq said...

#Karachi-based #startup Bazaar completes series A round. #Pakistan's B2B marketplace and digital ledger platform Bazaar has raised $30 million led by #SiliconValley-based early stage VC Defy Partners & #Singapore-based Wavemaker Partners. via @techcrunch

A one-year-old startup that is building a business-to-business marketplace for merchants in Pakistan and also helping them digitize their bookkeeping is the latest to secure a mega round in the South Asian market.

Bazaar said on Tuesday it has raised $30 million in a Series A round. The new financing round — the largest Series A in Pakistan — was led by Silicon Valley-based early stage VC Defy Partners and Singapore-based Wavemaker Partners.

Scores of other investors including current and former leaders of Antler, Careem, Endeavor, Gumroad, LinkedIn and Notion as well as new investors Acrew Capital, Japan’s Saison Capital, UAE’s Zayn Capital and B&Y Venture Partners and existing investors Indus Valley Capital, Global Founders Capital, Next Billion Ventures, and Alter Global also participated in the new round.

One way to think about Bazaar is — especially if you have been following the Indian startup ecosystem — that it’s sort of a blend between Udaan and KhataBook. “That’s a good way to describe us,” said Hamza Jawaid, co-founder of Bazaar in an interview. “We had this benefit of hindsight to not just look at India but other emerging markets,” he said.

“We saw lots of synergies between these two. If you look at commerce, you have to acquire every single merchant in every single category differently. Whereas with Khata, merchants in any city and category can download it. So effectively, it’s a great customer acquisition tool for you,” he said on a WhatsApp call, adding that this also provides greater insight into businesses.

Bazaar’s business-to-business marketplace, which provides merchants with the ability to procure inventories at a standard price and choose from a much larger catalog, is currently available in Karachi and Lahore, the nation’s largest cities, while Easy Khata is live across the country.

At stake is a booming $170 billion retail market in the world’s fifth-most populous nation that is yet to see much deployment of technology, said Saad Jangda, Bazaar’s other co-founder. Both of them have known each other since childhood and reconnected in Dubai a few years ago. At the time, Jawaid was at McKinsey & Company while Jangda was working with Careem as a product manager for ride-hailing and food delivery products.

There are about 5 million micro, small, and medium-sized businesses in Pakistan. Like India, even as a significant portion of the population has come online, most merchants remain unconnected, said the founders, who surveyed shops going door-to-door.

“We’ve been investing in FMCG B2B marketplaces across the region since 2017. After working with Hamza and Saad over the past year, we’ve been impressed by their customer-centric approach to product development and the speed of their learning and execution,” said Paul Santos, Managing Partner at Wavemaker Partners, in a statement.

“It’s no surprise that they’ve received glowing reviews from their customers and partners. We’re excited to support Bazaar as they solidify their market leadership and digitize Pakistan’s retail ecosystem,” he added.

The startup said it has amassed over 750,000 merchants since launch last year. And it appears to have solved a problem that many of its South Asian peers are still grappling with: Retention. Bazaar said it has a 90% retention rate.

I asked Jangda if he plans to expand to the ‘dukaan’ category. Several startups in Asia are currently building tools to help merchants set up online presence and accept digital orders. He said the market is currently not ready for a dukaan product just yet. “The B2C market is still developing, so there is not so much demand from the consumer side yet,” he added.

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan to set up #technology zones across the country to “provide special incentives to attract investors, builders, and technology companies to partner with the government” and also provide one-window facilitation to local and international companies

Pakistan will set up special technology zones across the country to create new jobs and opportunities for the bulging youth population.

Presiding a meeting on the establishment of technology zones, Prime Minister Imran Khan said that the top priority for his government is to support youth by harnessing the power of technology and creating an enabling environment for strong partnership among educational institutions, industrial sector and government.

In the meeting, attended by relevant ministers from all provinces and regions including Gilgit-Baltistan and AJK, the premier directed officials to provide all facilities available in developed countries to the investors, entrepreneurs, and business community in the new science and technology zones in Pakistan.

Pakistan government established Special Technology Zones Authority (STZA) in January this year to boost the IT sector and create more jobs in the world’s fifth most populous country.

“STZA is building an integrated technology roadmap to drive innovation and boost economy by leveraging technology and empowering millions in Pakistan” Amer Hashmi, the chairman of STZA, told Gulf News. “This is Pakistan’s opportunity to leapfrog to a new era of innovation” and create a “future brimming with opportunities for young people.”

Riaz Haq said...

Mattias Martinsson
Have followed #Pakistan for 15 years now. Can't recall any time when VC activity was anywhere near what we've seen over the last few months. Impact of reforms kicking in?
#EmergingMarkets #FrontierMarkets

Riaz Haq said...

What the 2020 Companies (Amendment) Ordinance means for startups

The new law takes into account many of the changes that entrepreneurs and venture capitalists had been clamouring for, but there is still a long way to go for Pakistani startups

1. Paying people in equity will become easier
One of the biggest changes in the new law ratified by the President on May 4, 2020 – and one that both venture capitalists and entrepreneurs had been eager to see – is the easing of rules around paying employees in equity. A whole host of rules around this matter are set to be relaxed under the ordinance and could significantly boost interest among young college graduates in working for startups.

The first change proposed is expanding which companies can issue equity compensation. In the previous law, only public limited companies (whether they be publicly listed or privately held) were allowed to issue employee stock options. Now, even private limited companies, especially companies classified as startups, will be able to offer such benefits as well.

“Sometimes when companies are young and new, they cannot afford to pay their employees market competitive salaries. In such cases, they issue employee stock options,” said Barrister Ahmed Uzair, a partner at AUC Law, a law firm based in Lahore. “With the new amendments, now even private companies may issue the same for their employees and may also do so without needing any further approval from SECP.”

Beyond simply allowing companies to issue stock options, however, the company has also made it easier for founders to consider the value of their ‘sweat equity’ – or the value of the work they put into the startup without cash compensation – in the valuation of the company.

“Strictly speaking it [considering sweat equity in valuing a company] was allowed but required valuation by the SECP which ultimately decided how much worth could be assigned to a resource’s worth,” said Uzair.

Under the current regulations, the value of sweat equity would be determined by an independent valuation advisor – typically the advisory arms of major accounting firms – and submitted to the SECP for approval before such valuations could be accepted. Under the proposed regulations, however, startups would be exempted from the requirement of that valuation exercise, which can be quite expensive and often end up costing hundreds of thousands of rupees in advisory fees.

Many costly regulatory requirements have been relaxed for startups
The proposed legislation also seeks to remove many other bureaucratic requirements that may seem minor but add to the headache and cost of running a startup. These include things like the specific time limit during which the company has to deposit the cash it needs for its startup capital, or having a chartered accountant from the very beginning.

The startup capital deposit requirement was one that was created as part of the 2017 Companies Act, and it stated that if a company had declared a certain amount as its paid-up capital, that amount would need to be deposited into a company-owned bank account within 30 days of registration. This requirement has now been relaxed for companies classified as startups.

However, it is not yet clear as to how long companies will now have to deposit the cash, merely that the SECP now has the discretion to allow for extensions in that deadline.

Another requirement that has now been relaxed is the one requiring a chartered accountant. Under the amended law, companies were required to have a chartered accountant – duly qualified and a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Pakistan (ICAP) – sign off on their financial statements as an auditor.

Riaz Haq said...

What the 2020 Companies (Amendment) Ordinance means for startups

That, in itself, seems like a reasonable regulation. However, combined with the artificial shortage of accountants in Pakistan created by ICAP, the expense of hiring a chartered accountant ends up being somewhat prohibitive for startups seeking to conserve their cash burn rates. An easing of that requirement, as expected, is welcomed by many entrepreneurs.

Then there are other minor regulations that have also been eased, such as the requirement to have a company seal on all documents that need to be signed by senior company executives.

The number of companies eligible for regulatory relaxations for startups has been increased
An important change in the proposed regulation has been an expansion in the definition of what constitutes a startup. Under current law, a company that has been in operation for five years or less is considered a startup, and there are few, if any, other ways to have a company be classified as such. Under the new regulations, however, companies that have been in existence for up to 10 years will be able to be classified as a startup.

In addition, there will now be other elements of the definition of a startup that will allow more companies to be classified as such. Companies with revenue of less than Rs500 million – or any other amount subsequently defined by the SECP – will also fall under that definition, as will companies that can demonstrate that they are “working towards the innovation, development or improvement of products or processes or services, or is a scalable business model with a high potential of employment generation or wealth creation.” In other words, innovative startups.

The expansion of the definition of a startup means that more companies will be able to take advantage of the regulatory relaxations that have been granted to startups under the proposed legislation. The goal of this provision appears to be to expand the scope of the startup ecosystem in Pakistan.

Startups will now be able to buy back shares from departing founders
This provision is likely to be especially useful for the investors and current management of Patari, where much of the founding team has been forced to depart the company owing to allegations of sexual harassment against one of the founders and allegations of aiding a cover up on the part of the others.

In such circumstances – or in situations where founders leave owing to disputes with each other or with investors – it can often create an awkward situation where the departing founder still owns a large chunk of the company’s equity but is no longer a contributing member of the management team. For startups, this is a very common scenario, and one that is made worse in Pakistan by the fact that, under the very recent law, only publicly listed companies were allowed to buy back their own shares.

Under the proposed legislation, startups will be able to buy back their own shares, in addition to all private limited companies. This allows for the amicable settlement of disputes between founders and does not require one founder or investor to buy out others, but rather have the company’s collective resources be made available to resolve such issues.

Riaz Haq said...

The Ordinance provides 100% tax credit and an exemption for startups.

100% Tax Credit Against Income Tax Liablity of the Startup
Profits and gains of startups were exempt from income tax up till promulgation of Tax Laws (Second Amendment) Ordinance, 2021 on March 22, 2021.

Effective from March 22, 2021, income of a startup is not exempt from income tax; instead, startups have been allowed a 100% tax credit against their income tax liability.

There are SIX conditions attached to eligibility for 100% tax credit. These conditions are enumerated below:

The startup is required to be certified by the Pakistan Software Export Board (PSEB).
100% tax credit is available in the year of certification by PSEB and the next following two years.
The startup has filed the income tax return.
Tax required to be deducted or collected has been deducted or collected and paid by the startup. In other words, the startup has discharged its duty as a withholding agent. For further details on withholding of taxes, read this article.
The startup has filed with FBR the withholding tax statements for the immediately preceding tax year.
The startup has filed the sales tax returns for the tax periods corresponding to the relevant tax year. Therefore, relevant sales tax registration (PRA, SRB, BRA, KPRA, FBR) is also must.
The startups are eligible for 100% tax credit regarding tax payable under any provisions of ITO, 2001 including minimum tax and final tax. However, the startup can be subjected to audit proceedings u/s 177 and 214C.

Shahid H. said...

Do you how much the tech export of Bangladesh is? Just check it out.

Riaz Haq said...

Shahid: "Do you how much the tech export of Bangladesh is? Just check it out"

#Bangladesh #tech #exports in FY 2021 were $1 billion, less than half of #Pakistan's.

Riaz Haq said...

In the first two months of the year, start-ups elicited $23.74 million in contrast to the $37.1 million received in 2020.

The funding in 2018 and 2019 make up almost two-thirds of the total disclosed funding worth $317 million in the start-up segment over the past decade, according to the LightCastle Partners study.

Not all the start-up fundings are disclosed and therefore the actual funding may be higher, the report said.

A total of 78 companies got funding through 146 deals, of which 80 deals were disclosed.

Half of the total fund of $317 million was invested in the fintech start-ups while a third in the logistic and e-commerce businesses.

“It is a very promising time for start-ups as there is a lot of overall interest for investing in Bangladesh, especially from abroad,” said Rahat Ahmed, chief executive officer and founding partner of Anchorless Bangladesh, a New York-based venture capital firm focused on fostering the start-up ecosystem of Bangladesh.

Riaz Haq said...

ISLAMABAD: The number of 3G and 4G users in Pakistan reached 103.12 million by end-August 2021 compared to 101.59 million by the end-July 2021, registering an increase of 1.53 million, revealed Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) data.

The number of cellular subscribers in Pakistan increased by 0.67 million to 185.57 million by end-August 2021 compared to 184.90 million by the end of July.

Teledensity for cellular mobile increased from 84.41 percent by the end of July 2021 to 84.67 percent by end-August.

The total teledensity increased from 86.55 percent by the end of July 2021 to 86.81 percent by end-August.

Monthly Next Generation Mobile Service (NGMS) penetration stood at 47.05 percent by end-August 2021 compared to 46.38 percent in July 2021.

Jazz’s total count for 3G users stood at 7.438 million by end-August compared to 7.598 million by the end of July 2021, registering a decrease of 0.16 million.

Jazz 4G user numbers jumped from 31.745 million by the end of July 2021 to 32.767 million by end-August. Zong 3G subscribers decreased from 4.204 million by the end of July to 4.046 million by end-August, while the number of 4G users jumped from 23.581 million by the end of July 24.099 million by end-August.

The number of 3G users of Telenor decreased from 4.984 million by the end of July to 4.777 million by end-August. The number of 4G users jumped from 17.791 million by the end of July 18.333 million by end-August.

Ufone 3G users decreased from 4.373 million by the end of July to 4.292 million by end-August.

The number of 4G users of Ufone increased from 6.212 million by the end of July 2021 to 6.246 million by end-August.

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan #agriculture #startup Tazah gets #2 million pre-seed funding. It screens produce for quality, removes rotten produce. It sorts into categories for specific types of buyers. Now it offers 5 products: ginger, garlic, tomatoes, potatoes & onions.

The founders of Tazah Technologies, a B2B agriculture marketplace in Pakistan, met while serving leadership roles at Uber subsidiary Careem. Abrar Bajwa and Mohsin Zaka bonded during long working hours as the platform dealt with COVID-19’s impact. Eventually, the two started talking about creating their own startup. When asked how they got from ride-hailing to agri-tech, Bajwa told TechCrunch that the two grew up in farming communities. “We are from central Punjab and every family there has something to do with agriculture,” he said. “We had seen firsthand how farmers, or people who are involved in small holder farming, do not encounter social mobility based on how the deck is stacked against them.”

Agriculture is Pakistan’s biggest sector, contributing about 24% of its gross domestic product and employing half of its labor force, according to government statistics. But fragmented and complicated supply chains lead to inflated prices, food waste and low profits for farmers, all problems that Tazah wants to solve. The startup, which launched two months ago in Lahore, announced today it has raised a $2 million pre-seed round led by Global Founders Capital and Zayn Capital. Other participants included Ratio Ventures, Walled City Co, i2i Ventures, Suya Ventures, Globivest, Afropreneur Syndicate, +92 Ventures, Sunu Capital, Musha Investments and angel investors like senior executives from ride-hailing platforms Careem and Swvl, where Bajwa worked before launching Tazah.

There are currently about 300 small- to medium-sized sellers buying inventory through the platform and it moves multiple truckloads of produce per day. Right now it offers five main kinds of products: ginger, garlic, tomatoes, potatoes and onions. Tazah plans to expand into other vegetables and fruits, but wants to ensure that it can guarantee consistent supply and quality. For example, instead of just serving as a marketplace to connect farmer and buyers, Tazah also screens produce for quality, removing rotten produce. Then it sorts them into categories for specific types of buyers.

For example, potatoes are separated into ones for households, restaurants, small retailers, or to be made into French fries, based on what Bajwa and Zaka learned during market research. “We have spent months in wholesale markets, we’ve interviewed hundreds of retailers and we got to know that standardization of product is needed in Pakistan,” said Bajwa. “We get into the bottom of operations, because retailers will know what exactly is in the sack.” This has resulted in a monthly retention rate of more than 80%, and most customers buy from the platform about four times a week.

“We’re not just a box-moving operation because in one sack of potatoes, there can be multiple rotten potatoes, so you don’t want to just buy from farmers and then give to retailers. That doesn’t add a lot of value,” said Zaka. Tazah is currently focused on small to medium-sized sellers who are overlooked by fast-moving consumer goods and grocery product inventory providers because they aren’t able to buy at sufficient bulk. It’s also started talking to other customer segments, including B2C marketplaces, grocery apps and stores.

Increasing farmers’ profits and reducing food waste
Tazah’s founders say fragmented supply chains mean that about 30% to 40% of produce is wasted because they perish or are damaged each time they are unloaded, warehoused and reloaded onto a truck. The company wants to fix that by creating a shorter, more streamlined logistics infrastructure. It plans to keep costs down by working with third-party warehouse and trucking providers instead of owning its own facilities.

Riaz Haq said...

#Netflix cuts prices in #Pakistan to grow #streaming business. The Standard plan now costs Rs 800 per month whereas the Premium plan is now priced at Rs 1,100. The plans were earlier, Rs 1500 and Rs 1200 respectively. #entertainment #movies #online

While Netflix recently hiked prices in NZ, Netherlands as well as Spain, the company has reduced prices in Pakistan

Last month Netflix announced it is launching a free mobile plan in Kenya as the global streaming giant hopes to bank on the 20 million internet users the country offers. The plan will allow users to sign up free of cost and includes ads.

Netflix has experimented with a different price offerings in different countries to attract customers, esp in developing nations. The mobile plans offered in India and Pakistan are one such example.

Riaz Haq said...

Udhaar Book, a #Pakistani #tech #startup providing cashflow management services for small businesses, raised $6 million seed from VCs like Muir Capital to digitize mom-and-pop stores. Pakistan’s startups have seen record funding rush this year. #Digital

Udhaar Book, a Pakistani cashflow management services provider for small businesses, raised $6 million in early funding to digitize mom-and-pop stores that mostly operate using a manual register and handwritten entries.

The Karachi-based startup, whose parent is Toko Lab Inc., raised the money in seed funding from investors including Fatima Gobi Ventures, Plaid co-founder William Hockey’s Muir Capital, Tinder co-founder Justin Mateen’s JAM Fund LLC, Integra Partners and Commerce Ventures LLC.

Venture capital and private equity investors are ramping up investment in Southeast Asian nations and India. Startups in Pakistan too have seen the funding rush this year with inflows at a record about $300 million, which is more than the past six years combined, according to data from Crunchbase and Invest2Innovate.

Pakistan is mostly a cash-based economy but startups are looking to change that. The nation is home to as many as 30 million micro-, small- and medium-enterprises that operate manually and deal in cash. Many small business owners such as grocery shops are not able to expand since they need to keep an eye on drawer holding all the cash, Fahad Kamr, Udhaar’s co-founder said in an interview.

Udhaar Book that started last year has 1.4 million registered users and a little over half-a-million monthly active users. The company’s app allows small businesses digital book keeping, inventory, invoicing and payroll management along with other features.

“We’ve barely scratched the surface so obviously expanding the reach of the product is super important at this time,” said Kamr, who moved back from Canada for the venture and was previously a founding member of data portal Capital IQ. “That’s where a lot of the funding will also go.”

Riaz Haq said...

BEIJING, Dec 12 (Gwadar Pro) – Pakistan will capitalize on low banking penetration through digital technology, which has great potential for growth in line with the national financial inclusion strategy, said Shaikh Muhammad Shariq, Vice President of the National Bank of Pakistan while addressing a special conference on the innovation & development of the SCO driven by the digital economy.

The participants of Shanghai Cooperation Organization members attended the conference and were committed to increasing collaboration between SCO members in digital economy.

The Chief Representative of NBP in Beijing Shaikh Shariq said that in Pakistan, mobile connectivity is advancing the digital transformation of industries and facilitating the development of new solutions in different areas, and simplifying commercial transactions and remittances between individuals and organizations.

“Pakistan is home to more than 300,000 IT professionals, produces over 25,000 IT graduates annually, and has nurtured over 700 tech start-ups since 2010. Technology exports have grown 15% per year and are expected to reach $3.5 billion in 2022. Pakistan’s online population has grown rapidly and internet penetration is reaching 54% this year” Shaikh added.

He further said that Pakistan introduced its first ‘Digital Pakistan policy’ back in 2018. The primary aim of this policy was to bolster the IT industry by building a digital ecosystem, aiming to enhance connectivity, improve digital infrastructure, increase investment in digital skills and promote innovation, high-tech and entrepreneurship.

“Pakistan’s digital transformation could generate up to Rs. 9.7 trillion ($ 54.86 billion) in annual economic value by 2030. Pakistan is one of the youngest countries in the world (about 60 percent of its population is 15 to 29 years old). IT and IT-enabled industry have the potential to overtake the agriculture and manufacturing sectors in exports”, he mentioned.

Shaikh said that the Special Technology Zones Authority (STZA), is also established, to provide legislative and institutional support for the development of the national technology sector that will harness Pakistan’s IT potential and set the country on the trajectory of an entrepreneurial, innovative, and tech-driven future for shared prosperity & inclusive growth.

“We have 152 Million mobile phone subscribers in Pakistan, mobile wallets reach more than 35 million. Agro-tech is also required to improve yield, efficiency & profitability. Robotics is also a budding industry, and many private corporations, colleges, newly established organizations, and consultants are contributing. Other areas include Bio-tech, travel-tech, IoT & automation”, he said.

He invited all the enterprises to invest in Pakistan and the National Bank of Pakistan will provide maximum facilitation.

Riaz Haq said...

Telenor’s Khushaal Watan platform to empower rural communities and farmers across Pakistan

The M-Agri value chain is a billion-dollar market. In agriculture, a value chain is a set of activities and actors that connect basic agricultural products from the field to the consumer, adding value to each stage of the process. Input suppliers, farmers or primary producers, wholesalers, processors, manufacturers, and retailers are the primary players associated with the process. In Pakistan, the dilemma is that the agriculture GDP contribution remains about 24%, even though the labour force percentage is much higher than other industries, primarily due to the low yield per acre.

The main reason is that farming and agriculture yields highly depend on seasons and weather.

With the help of special weather forecasting tools, the platform enables farmers to plan ahead how and when to do things. Insights into the weather conditions are provided to the farmers to enable informed decisions.

The weather forecast and related information can be used for planning purposes. The information can help in understanding whether to start or withhold the sowing process, whether or not to irrigate the crop, when to fertilise, and whether to begin complete harvesting immediately or to delay it – all of which have a significant effect on crop yields.

After conducting extensive research, Telenor Pakistan was able to conclude that lack of information and education on the farmer's side is the primary reason for this disparity. The farmers in Pakistan lack access to the latest research regarding various aspects of agriculture.

Telenor Pakistan understood that cutting-edge digital tools in agriculture could generate significant benefits to agribusinesses in emerging markets. By providing farmers with a pathway to financial inclusion, digitalising agri value chain benefits the overall socio-economic development in the country as well. Farmers need professional advice about the ever-changing situations in real-time to tackle various crop diseases, weather conditions, and more.

The journey starts when a user calls on 7272. Telenor has deployed the latest technology that enables them to automatically get information about the crops based on the caller’s current location. The platform was able to gather extensive data about which crops were grown in different regions during different seasons, allowing them to provide accurate updates.

When a user subscribes, they begin receiving targeted, geo-localised information every day via multiple mediums. Automated outbound calls or SMS notifications are sent, and they can also call back to listen to the information if it is more convenient. In addition, the service is offered in multiple local languages, including Sindhi, Punjabi, Saraiki, Pashto, and Urdu.

Telenor has gone above and beyond in creating a persona for this service. The brand has curated a virtual character, Bashir, who interacts with the user in their language. Likewise, the user can scroll down the menu to view weather predictions, which is crucial for ensuring a healthy yield. Farmers can call and interact with the user in their native language or scroll down the menu to see weather predictions, which are crucial to ensuring a healthy harvest.

Riaz Haq said...

Shorooq Partners, a leading VC firm headquartered in the UAE and with offices across Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Bahrain,has been granted approval by Special Technology Zones Authority (STZA) for a Zone Enterprise license and will be opening their first office in Pakistan in theIslamabad Special Technology Zone.

Shorooq Partners is the leading technology investor across emerging markets, partnering with startups, and building enduring businesses through seed stage equity and debt funding with afocus on the Middle East, North Africa and Pakistan.

Earlier this year, Shorooq Partners signed a MoU with the STZA to support efforts to build Pakistan’s technology ecosystem in the presence of the Honorable President of Pakistan Dr.ArifAlvi.Shorooq Partners was keen to establish a physical presence in Pakistan to support local founders and other local investors through a series of ecosystem initiatives.

As part of its new office, Shorooq Partners intends to invest and extend its one-of-a-kind value-creation arm to its portfolio companies in Pakistan and give them a real competitive advantage in the market.

Shorooq Partners was early in investing in Pakistan and have done more than 10 investments incompanies such as Airlift, PostEx, DigiKhata, Retailo, KTrade Securities and Tazah Technologies.

Chairman of STZA, Amer Hashmi, reinforced the government’s commitment to facilitating global venture capital firms in the Special Technology Zones.

“The presence of a VC firm like Shorooq Partners will be significant for Pakistan as it will bring global best practices that will enable Pakistani tech entrepreneurs and investors to forge connections on a global level, tap into other markets, and learn from top-tier founders and investors.”

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan Customs to Use TradeLens to digitize #import-#export documentation of the containerized cargo. Pakistan Single Window (PSW) Company signed the agreement on behalf of Pakistan Customs. TradeLens is a #blockchain-underpinned #logistics platform.

Pakistan Customs has entered an agreement with TradeLens to digitise import-export documentation of the containerised cargo moving in and out of the country.

The Pakistan Single Window (PSW) Company signed the agreement on behalf of Pakistan Customs with TradeLens, a blockchain-underpinned logistics platform supported by five of the six largest ocean carriers globally.

PSW integration with TradeLens will help Pakistan Customs and other trade regulators to improve their operational efficiency and create value through the blockchain platform.

The immutability of blockchain-underpinned document information is important in the identification of illegal activities, as well as, improving the smooth operation of legal trade.

Pakistan’s international trade ecosystem is being rapidly transformed through the introduction of technology driven initiatives led by the Pakistan Single Window.

The country’s authorities recognise the potential benefits of digitising supply chains for efficiencies, enhanced transparency, and data-driven decision making.

The authorisation to sign the collaboration came from the PSW Governing Council chaired by Shaukat Tarin. The CEO of PSW Aftab Haider formally signed the agreement with Irtaza Hussain, the Regional Head of Network for TradeLens at IBM.

Cross-border containerised supply chains are some of the largest and most complex business ecosystems in the world today. It is not uncommon for 30 independent parties, 100 people and up to 200 exchanges of information to be connected to a single shipment.

With increased complexity comes increased cost. Shippers or beneficial cargo owners (BCOs) need consistent, auditable and immutable data from multiple sources to effectively manage their supply chains.

Marvin Erdly, Head of TradeLens at IBM, commented, “The growth of the TradeLens’ network is evidence that participants from all across the supply chain ecosystem can derive significant value through digital collaboration.

“Pakistan now joins an increasing number of connected Customs Authorities on the TradeLens platform exploring innovative solutions to enhance global trade access and enhance process efficiencies for all involved”.

TradeLens is a neutral platform brings together data from the entire global supply chain ecosystem including shippers and cargo owners, 3PLs and freight forwarders, intermodal operators, customs and government authorities, ports and terminals, and several ocean carriers.

This data allows TradeLens and its network partners to modernise manual and paper-based documents by replacing them with blockchain-enabled digital solutions. It also allows the network partners to provide their customers with deeper visibility into the entire journey for their cargo from origin to destination and reduce uncertainty allowing for better planning and reduced inventory costs.

TradeLens welcomed its first network member in Pakistan, Al-Hamd International Container Terminal, earlier this year.

PSW is an initiative of Pakistan’s federal government with a focus of transforming the trade and industry ecosystem.

Riaz Haq said...

The user-centric policy drivers on which the foundation of the National Broadband Policy–2021 is laid consists of the following four major pillars.

The first pillar will focus on the digitally divided people who are yet to be digitally included and will provide guidelines regarding use of existing fibre resources, facilitating infrastructure sharing, introducing national broadband networks and its role in the development of sustainable broadband infrastructure in public-private partnerships, reviewing the role of USF for sustainable penetration of broadband services in unserved and underserved areas of the country further enhancing the capability for use of already laid infrastructure, further assessing the rolling spectrum strategy and offering interventions for resource optimization as well as roadmap for inclusion of new mobile spectrum bands, facilitating the provisioning of rights of ways, plan for commercial use of data satellite and proposal for smartphone adoption and increased local manufacturing of internet devices/terminals in Pakistan.

The second pillar will help in organising matters related to enhancing the use of internet and for market enablement such as; roadmap for service-based competition, review of licensing framework, outlining the future course of OTT platforms and content management, broadening the role of Ignite as research and innovation enabler, facilitating the cloud infrastructure and internet exchange points, reviewing the quality of service rules for improving user experience, developing and implementing new services and technologies in public-private partnerships, supporting with necessary infrastructure and services for enabling social services in the digital space.

The third pillar will emphasise on the privacy and protection of user consuming internet and will help in creating awareness and propose a framework for securing identity and data online, ease of access for reporting criminal activity online, guidelines for constituting CERTs, standardising and implementing user privacy, propose common operating environment and standards for internet security, environment protection support, framework for standardising new technologies and services.

The 4th and final pillar of the policy would help user by providing a transformational roadmap for legacy services and technologies, review the role of different public sector organisations responsible for facilitating different telecommunication services, plan for adopting open source technologies and platforms, broadly identify future technologies and make provisions for early adoption, propose broad strategy for the adoption of internet of everything, and last but not the least provide guideline for international cooperation in ICTs.

Riaz Haq said...

#Startups bringing #Pakistan's #farming into #digital age. Since October, #farmers in Chak 26 and pilot projects elsewhere have been given free access to the internet—and it is revolutionizing the way they work. #agriculture #technology via @physorg_com

Agriculture entrepreneurs are bringing the digital age to Pakistan's farmers, helping them plan crops better and distribute their produce when the time is right.
Until recently, "the most modern machine we had was the tractor", Aamer Hayat Bhandara, a farmer and local councillor behind one such project told AFP in "Chak 26", a village in the agricultural heartland of Punjab province.

Even making mobile phone calls can be difficult in many parts of Pakistan, but since October, farmers in Chak 26 and pilot projects elsewhere have been given free access to the internet—and it is revolutionising the way they work.

Agriculture is the mainstay of Pakistan's economy, accounting for nearly 20 percent of gross domestic product and around 40 percent of the workforce.

It is estimated to be the world's fifth-largest producer of sugarcane, seventh-largest of wheat and tenth-biggest rice grower—but it mostly relies on human labour and lags other big farming nations on mechanisation.

Cows and donkeys rest near a muddy road leading to a pavilion in Chak 26, which is connected to a network via a small satellite dish.

This is the "Digital Dera"—or meeting place—and six local farmers have come to see the computers and tablets that provide accurate weather forecasts, as well as the latest market prices and farming tips.

"I've never seen a tablet before," said Munir Ahmed, 45, who grows maize, potatoes and wheat.

"Before, we relied on the experience of our ancestors or our own, but it wasn't very accurate," added Amjad Nasir, another farmer, who hopes the project "will bring more prosperity".

Apps and apples

Communal internet access is not Bhandara's only innovation.

A short drive away, on the wall of a shed, a modern electronic switch system is linked to an old water pump.

A tablet is now all he needs to control the irrigation on part of the 100 hectares (250 acres) he cultivates—although it is still subject to the vagaries of Pakistan's intermittent power supply.

This year, Bhandara hopes, others will install the technology he says will reduce water consumption and labour.

"Digitising agriculture... and the rural population is the only way to prosper," he told AFP.

At the other end of the supply chain, around 150 kilometres (90 miles) away in Lahore, dozens of men load fruit and vegetables onto delivery bikes at a warehouse belonging to the start-up Tazah, which acts as an intermediary between farmers and traders.

After just four months in operation, the company delivers about 100 tonnes of produce every day to merchants in Lahore and Karachi who place orders via a mobile app.

"Before, the merchant had to get up at 5 am or 5:30 am to buy the products in bulk, at the day's price, and then hassle with transporting them," said Inam Ulhaq, regional manager.

"Tazah brings some order to the madness."

In the Tazah office, several employees manage the orders, but for the time being, purchases are still made by phone, as the part of the application intended for farmers is still in development.

The young company is also tackling a "centuries-old" system that stakeholders are reluctant to change, explains co-founder Abrar Bajwa.

Record investment

Fruit and vegetables often rot during their journey along poorly organised supply chains, says partner Mohsin Zaka, but apps like Tazah make the whole system more efficient.

Riaz Haq said...

‘Pakistan fastest growing market for YouTube’

“Pakistan is one of the fastest growing markets for YouTube globally,” said Marc Lefkowitz, company’s director of partner development and management for Asia Pacific.


KARACHI: YouTube Pakistan brought out the big guns on Thursday evening for its maiden Brandcast — a loud show of song and dance with hundreds of young content creators gathered under one roof to dazzle the deep-pocketed advertisers of the country’s “No. 1 online video and music platform”.

Beginning with a short concert and effusive presentations by popular YouTubers, the event featured what seemed like sales pitches to advertisers by top YouTube officials.

“Pakistan is one of the fastest growing markets for YouTube globally,” said Marc Lefkowitz, company’s director of partner development and management for Asia Pacific.

As many as 62 per cent of online Pakistanis between the ages of 18 and 24 reported watching YouTube at least once a month, he said. Citing a study conducted by parent company Google and research firm Kantar, he said 78pc of internet users in Pakistan said YouTube was the video platform they went to when they wanted to watch shows and online content.

The same study showed 76pc of internet users believed YouTube helped them “learn something new”. Three-quarters of internet users claimed the video platform carried content that helped them “dig deeper into their interests”.

In a separate interaction with reporters after the event, Mr Lefkowitz said the number of YouTube channels making Rs1 million or more in revenue has gone up 110pc on a year-on-year basis. There’re currently more than 5,400 YouTube channels with more than 100,000 subscribers in Pakistan, up 35pc on an annual basis. More than 350 of these channels have more than a million subscribers.

In his presentation and subsequent talk with the press, Google Country Director Farhan Siddique Qureshi said YouTube has become the centre of modern life as it fulfils educational, professional and entertainment needs of ordinary people, he said.

He urged businesses to capitalise on the “deep connections” that YouTube users have built on the platform to remain at the “top of (their) minds” for achieving a “greater sales uplift”.

A case study shared with the press showed Nestle Fruita Vitals was experiencing low sales in a few cities. It decided to test which advertising channel — TV or YouTube — would yield “efficient results”. YouTube surpassed TV’s reach on the third day, the case study showed. The on-target reach of YouTube versus the TV campaign was three times higher while its cost was 70pc lower, it said.

PR minders of the firm kept hovering over the YouTube representatives during the press briefing in an apparent attempt to stop them from oversharing. Mr Qureshi didn’t state any numbers with respect to the size of YouTube’s business in Pakistan, its earnings, payments to local content creators or taxes.

In response to a question about the perception that local content creators don’t make as much money as their counterparts from other parts of the world, Mr Qureshi said advertising rates are auction-based, not fixed.

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan set for digital census with tablets supplied by NADRA

The last batch of 17,600 tablets powered by an indigenous solution from Pakistan’s National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) has been received by the chief statistician of the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) Naeem uz Zafar ahead of a planned digital population and housing census.

This brings the total number of tablets supplied for the exercise to 126,000.


The last batch of 17,600 tablets powered by an indigenous solution from Pakistan’s National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) has been received by the chief statistician of the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) Naeem uz Zafar ahead of a planned digital population and housing census.

This brings the total number of tablets supplied for the exercise to 126,000.

According to an agency announcement, NADRA also played an important role in distributing the tablets to all the 495 districts, braving the odds to complete the exercise within a period of nine days.

The digital ID authority also made available about 100 experts to help in the training of over 90,000 enumerators who will be deployed on the field when the census begins.

After handing over the tablets, NADRA Chairman Tariq Malik also visited the facility offering some technical services to the census preparation process at the PBS.

Malik hailed the census as a huge step further towards a digital Pakistan: “The digital census is a step that pulls Pakistan out of ancient past and opens doors of a modern future. From scribbled responses on millions of paper sheets to real time validated data in apps on secure devices with satellite imagery – is a step towards digital Pakistan. Big data from digital census will become the foundational system for evidence based policy making for Pakistan.”

The solution from NADRA was developed in just three weeks and includes an Android-based house listing and enumeration application synchronized with GPS and GIS systems, data center and call center services, a web portal and other associated services.

NADRA is the official technology partner of the PBS for the upcoming population and housing census which is the 7th in the country but the first-ever to be done through digital means.

Biometric vehicle registration
NADRA also recently concluded a deal to henceforth conduct biometric checks on vehicle owners as part of efforts to combat fraud in vehicle transfer and ownership processes.

The deal sealed between NADRA and the Sindh Department of Excise and Taxation and Anti-Narcotics will be carried out through the ‘Sahulat Program,’ according to reporting by The Nation.

The first phase of the biometric program will run for three years.

Sindh Excise and Taxation and Anti-Narcotics Minister Mukesh Kumar Chawla praised the partnership saying it will help curb the phenomenon of vehicles operating with fake documents.

NADRA recently partnered with telecoms operators for a new fingerprint system to register SIM cards in Pakistan.

Riaz Haq said...

Article by Andrew Sharp Photos courtesy of Sabrin Beg May 05, 2023

Lerner College (University of Delware) professors explore how electronic devices impact classrooms in Pakistan

Developing countries like Pakistan are struggling to improve education, the researchers wrote, and their governments tend to use several strategies. One is to supply technology directly to students in an effort to make up for teachers’ shortcomings. The other is costly investment in teacher training, which may not be effective if governments don’t pour substantial resources into the design and support of the project.

This research has important implications for how to improve education in countries facing similar dilemmas.

“Every country, everywhere in the world, has a constrained budget, right?” Lucas said. “That’s why there are economists. And so this is just thinking about how to use those scarce education resources most effectively.”

That’s where the research comes in. The government of Punjab province in Pakistan developed digital teaching material featuring expert teachers, and wanted to know if it would be more effective to give preloaded tablets with the high quality material to each student, or to give one tablet to the teacher along with a display screen so the teacher could present the material. The digital lessons included explainer videos, review questions and more.

Through a connection of Beg’s in Pakistan, the UD pair was brought on board to conduct the study. They examined student performance among classrooms using a randomized controlled trial in which randomly selected schools used the two different kinds of digital lessons, while control schools operated as usual. The government of Punjab provided the technology.

One outcome that surprised Beg and Lucas was the magnitude of the effects. The study found a stark difference between the outcomes of the different approaches to delivering the digital material.

The eLearn classrooms — the ones focused on providing material to teachers — did improve student learning, with students outperforming the control group by a whopping 60%. They were also 5% more likely to pass the standardized test at the end of the academic year.

The students who each got tablets, but whose teachers could not display the content to the class, actually performed 95% worse than the control group.

“Basically, it’s like (these) students almost learned nothing … relative to the control students,” Lucas said.

When each student received a tablet, Beg said, there wasn’t a way for teachers to engage with the technology. “It made it actually maybe harder for the teachers to make it part of their regular classroom teaching, whereas the screens (eLearn Classrooms) did the opposite.”

In other words, “One of the more important takeaways was that teacher engagement seems to be an important ingredient in making technology successful in the classrooms,” Beg said. Also, “It’s not something that will solve all learning crises in developing countries, but that (technology) should be integrated into the classroom.” Appropriately, of course, to avoid the negative effects.

A lot of governments, she said, find technology very promising but don’t know exactly how to integrate it to make it useful.

There’s been a tendency, Lucas said, to bypass teachers using tech or after-school programs that basically create a parallel education system. “But … what this shows is no, these teachers are capable of delivering more learning to their students. And (in this case) the way that this happened was through technology.”