Saturday, August 13, 2022

Pakistan At 75: Highlights of Economic and Demographic Progress Since Independence

Pakistan is a young nation with a lot of unrealized potential. As the country turns 75, it is important to recognize that all basic indicators of progress such as income, employment, education, health, nutrition, electricity use, telecommunications and transportation have shown significant improvements over the last seven and a half decades. These improvements can be accelerated if Pakistan can overcome its economic growth constraints from recurring balance of payments crises such as the one it is experiencing now. The only way to do it is through rapid expansion of exports and major reductions in reliance on imports such as fossil fuels and cooking oil

Income/GDP Growth:

Economic Survey of Pakistan 2021-22 confirms that the nation's GDP grew nearly 6% in fiscal year 2021-22, reaching $1.62 Trillion in terms of purchasing power parity (PPP). It first crossed the trillion dollar mark in 2017. In nominal US$ terms, the size of Pakistan's economy is now $383 billion. The country's per capita income is $1,798 in nominal terms and $7,551 in PPP dollars.  

Pakistan GDP, Per Capita Income Growth. Source: 75 Years Economic Journey

Electricity Consumption:

Pakistan's electricity consumption is an important indicator of economic activity and living standards. It has soared from 40 GWH in 1949 (1 KWH per capita) to 136,572 KWH in 2021 (620 KWH per capita). Last year, hydroelectric dams contributed 37,689 GWH of electricity or 27.6% of the total power generated, making hydropower the biggest contributor to power generated in the country. It was followed by coal (20%), LNG (19%) and nuclear (11.4%).  Nuclear power plants generated 15,540 GWH of electricity in 2021, a jump of 66% over 2020.  Overall, Pakistan's power plants produced 136,572 GWH of power in 2021, an increase of 10.6% over 2020, indicating robust economic recovery amid the COVID19 pandemic. 

Electricity Consumption

 Population Growth:

Pakistan's population has grown rapidly over the last 75 years. It is now 227 million, 6.7 times 34 million in 1951. However, the total fertility rate has declined from 6.5 babies  in 1950 to 3.3 babies per woman in 2021.  

Pakistan Population Growth

Pakistan Total Fertility Rate Per Woman of Child-Bearing Age. Source: UN via Macrotrends


Life Expectancy:

Improvements in access to healthcare have helped raise life expectancy in the country. It has increased from just 50 years in 1970 to 67.4 years in 2020. 

Life Expectancy

Employment:

Pakistan's economy has generated tens of millions of jobs since the nation's independence. The employed workforce has grown from 16.24 million in 1963-64 to 67.25 million in 2020-21, according to government sources. Pakistan has created 5.5 million jobs during the past three years – 1.84 million jobs a year, significantly higher than the yearly average of new jobs created during the 2008-18 decade, according to the findings of the Labor Force Survey (LFS) as reported by the Express Tribune paper. The biggest jump in share of employment (1.5%) was in the construction sector, spurred by Naya Pakistan construction incentives offered by the PTI government. 


Pakistan Employment Growth

Unlike Pakistan's, India's labor participation rate (LPR) has been falling significantly in the last decade. It fell to 39.5% in March 2022, as reported by the Center for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE). It dropped below the 39.9% participation rate recorded in February. It is also lower than during the second wave of Covid-19 in April-June 2021. The lowest the labor participation rate had fallen to in the second wave was in June 2021 when it fell to 39.6%. The average LPR during April-June 2021 was 40%. March 2022, with no Covid-19 wave and with much lesser restrictions on mobility, has reported a worse LPR of 39.5%.

Labor Participation Rates in India and Pakistan. Source: ILO/World Bank


Youth  unemployment for ages 15-24 in India is 24.9%, the highest in the South Asia region. It is 14.8% in Bangladesh and 9.2% in Pakistan, according to the International Labor Organization and the World Bank.  

Poverty Reduction:

Pakistan has managed to significantly reduce poverty since its inception. 

Poverty Decline in Pakistan


Nutrition:

In terms of the impact of economic growth on average Pakistanis, the per capita average daily calorie intake jumped to 2,735 calories in FY 2021-22 from 2,457 calories in 2019-20. It has grown from 2250 calories in 1980 to 2780 calories in 2020. 

Pakistan Per Capita Daily Calorie Consumption. Source: Economic Surveys of Pakistan


Agriculture: 

Pakistan is among the world's largest food producers. It experienced broad-based economic growth across all key sectors in FY 21-22; manufacturing posted 9.8% growth, services 6.2% and agriculture 4.4%. The 4.4% growth in agriculture is particularly welcome; it helps reduce rural poverty.  

Production of Tractors in Pakistan


Wheat Production in Pakistan

Rice Production in Pakistan


Corn Production in Pakistan
Sugarcane Production in Pakistan
Meat Production in Pakistan


Milk Production in Pakistan

Literacy and Education:

Literacy in Pakistan has increased from just 16.4% in 1950-51 to 62.8% in 2020-21. Male literacy is now at 73.4% but the female literacy lags at only 51.9%. The area of female literacy clearly requires greater attention and focus. 

Literacy Rate in Pakistan

Number of universities in the country has jumped from just 2 in 1947 to 233 in 2021. Enrollment in these colleges has gone up from 644 in 1947 to 1.96 million in 2021. Biggest increases have come since the higher education reform led by Dr. Ata ur Rahman on President Musharraf's watch. 

University Enrollment in Pakistan

Number of degree colleges in the country has jumped from 40 in 1960 to 3,872 in 2021. Enrollment in these colleges has gone up from 4,368 in 1947 to 758,000 in 2021. 

Enrollment in Degree Colleges in Pakistan


Telecommunications:

Telecommunication services and broadband subscriptions in Pakistan have rapidly grown, especially over the last two decades. The number of telephone and mobile users has increased from just 15,200 in 1947 to 194.2 million in 2021. 

Phone Users in Pakistan


Transportation: 

Expansion of road infrastructure and increasing vehicle ownership have contributed to the growth of the road transport sector. Number of registered vehicles in Pakistan has soared from 31,892 in 1947 to 32.4 million in 2021. Road length has grown from 26,300 Km in 1947 to 500,000 Km in 2021. 

Vehicle Ownership and Road Length in Pakistan

Pakistan has seen significant improvements in its population's living standards since independence in 1947. Average Pakistani has much higher income and greater access to food, healthcare, education, housing, transport, electricity and communication services. 

Acknowledgement: Charts and data in this blog post are sourced from 75 Years Economic Journey of Pakistan published by Pakistan's Ministry of Finance. 

Related Links:

Friday, August 12, 2022

Nehru's Secularism Was An Aberration; Modi's Islamophobia is the Norm For India

As India and Pakistan turn 75, there are many secular intellectuals on both sides of the border who question the wisdom of "the Partition" in 1947. They dismiss what is happening in India today under Hindu Nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi's leadership as a temporary aberration, not the norm. They long for a return to "Indian liberalism" which according to anthropologist Sanjay Srivastava "did not exist". 

India Pakistan Border Ceremony at Wagah-Attari Crossing


American historian Audrey Truschke who studies India traces the early origins of Hindu Nationalism to the British colonial project to "divide and rule" the South Asian subcontinent. She says colonial-era British historians deliberately distorted the history of Indian Muslim rule to vilify Muslim rulers as part of the British policy to divide and conquer India. These misrepresentations of Muslim rule made during the British Raj appear to have been accepted as fact not just by Islamophobic Hindu Nationalists but also by at least some of the secular Hindus in India and Muslim intellectuals in present day Pakistan, says the author of "Aurangzeb: The Life and Legacy of India's Most Controversial King".  Aurangzeb was neither a saint nor a villain; he was a man of his time who should be judged by the norms of his times and compared with his contemporaries, the author adds.

After nearly a century of direct rule, the British largely succeeded in dividing South Asians along religious and sectarian lines. The majoritarian tyranny of the "secular"  Hindu-dominated Indian National Congress after 1937 elections in India became very apparent to  Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the leader of All India Muslim League. Speaking in Lucknow in October 1937,  he said the following: 

"The present leadership of the Congress, especially during the last ten years, has been responsible for alienating the Musalmans of lndia more and more, by pursuing a policy which is exclusively Hindu; and since they have formed the Governments in six provinces where they are in a majority they have by their words, deeds, and programme shown more and more that the Musalmans cannot expect any justice or fair play at their hands. Whenever they are in majority and wherever it suited them, they refused to co-operate with the Muslim League Parties and demanded unconditional surrender and signing of their pledges."

Fast forward to 2021, a Pew survey in India found that 64% of Hindus see their religious identity and Indian national identity as closely intertwined. Most Hindus (59%) also link Indian identity with being able to speak Hindi language. The survey was conducted over two years in 2019 and 2020 by Pew Research Center. It included 29,000 Indians.  

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Hindu Nationalist BJP party's appeal is the greatest among Hindus who closely associate their religious identity and the Hindi language with being “truly Indian.” The Pew survey found that less than half of Indians (46%) favored democracy as best suited to solve the country’s problems. Two percent more (48%) preferred a strong leader. 

Indian anthropologist Sanjay Srivastava sums up the current situation as follows: 

"Our parents practiced bigotry of a quiet sort, one that did not require the loud proclamations that are the norm now. Muslims and the lower castes knew their place and the structures of social and economic authority were not under threat. This does not necessarily translate into a tolerant generation. Rather, it was a generation whose attitudes towards religion and caste was never really tested. The loud bigotry of our times is no great break from the past in terms of a dramatic change in attitudes – is it really possible that such changes can take place in such few years? Rather, it is the crumbling of the veneer of tolerance against those who once knew their place but no longer wish to accept that position. The great problem with all this is that we continue to believe that what is happening today is simply an aberration and that we will, when the nightmare is over, return to the Utopia that was once ours. However, it isn’t possible to return to the past that was never there. It will only lead to an even darker future. And, filial affection is no antidote for it".

Acknowledgement: Charts and data in this blog post are sourced from 75 Years Economic Journey of Pakistan published by Pakistan's Ministry of Finance. 

Related Links:


Thursday, August 11, 2022

Remembering Salam Qureishi (1936-2022): A Pillar of Silicon Valley's Muslim Community

Abdus Salam Qureishi, a successful technology entrepreneur and philanthropist, passed away last Saturday, August 6, 2022. He was 86. Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’un(‏ إنَّا لِلَّهِ وَإِنَّا إِلَيْهِ رَاجِعُونَ ‏). He was a pillar of the Muslim community in Silicon Valley. Qureishi rose from humble origins in the Indian city of Aligarh and became very successful in the United States. He was very generous with his time and money in supporting the community. He helped build several Muslim community centers in San Francisco Bay Area.  He also invested in companies started by young Muslim entrepreneurs. I had the privilege of meeting him on many occasions while he was still very active in the decades of 1980s and 1990s. He and his wife came to our house for dinner and Yasmeen and I were invited by him for a private dinner with him and his wife at his house in Palo Alto, California.    

Abdus Salam Qureishi (1936-2022)

Qureishi was born in a poor family in Singahi village in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. He graduated with a Master's degree in Statistics from Aligarh Muslim University. In the fall of 1959, he arrived in the United States on a teaching fellowship from the Case Institute of Technology in Cleveland. But shortly thereafter, he was recruited by IBM to work for them in the Silicon Valley, California.  He knew little about American football but he quickly learned about it and dramatically improved the performance of the Dallas Cowboys. Computerized sports analytics has now become more common among professional teams. A Pakistani-American Farhan Zaidi has made a name for himself in this field. Farhan is now serving as the general manager of  the San Francisco Giants baseball team. 

In an interview with the Sports Illustrated magazine in 1968, Salam said, “Until I was called to Dallas, I knew nothing about American football. I had learned to enjoy baseball because of its similarity to cricket. Now I think American football is easily the most scientific game ever invented.”  Cowboys President Tex Schramm later said, “We had an Indian who knew absolutely nothing about football and coaches who knew nothing about computers and less about Indians.” Salam's computer analysis helped the Dallas Cowboys pick players who turned the team into a top performer in the 1960s. 

Salam Qureshi went on to found  Sysorex Information Systems (SIS) in 1972. SIS became one of the leading providers of information technology solutions to the U.S. Federal Government customers worldwide. 

Qureishi helped build the first Islamic Center in San Jose and later the Muslim Community Center in Santa Clara, California. He was also active in supporting the Aligarh Muslim University Alumni Association which provided student scholarships and organized popular events like the Sir Syed Day mushairas (poetry recitals) that attracted thousands of people across the United States. Sir Syed was the founder of Aligarh Muslim University. 

Abdus Salam Qureishi was a successful technologist, an early Silicon Valley entrepreneur and an exemplary benefactor of the Muslim community in the San Francisco Bay Area. May his soul rest in eternal peace! Amen!! 

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Farhan Zaidi: Pakistani-American Computerized Sports Analyst

Pakistanis Make Up Silicon Valley's Largest Foreign Born Muslim Group

Silicon Valley Pakistani-Americans

Pakistani-American Leads Silicon Valley's Top Incubator

Silicon Valley Pakistanis Enabling 2nd Machine Revolution

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Pakistani-American Shahid Khan: First Non-White Owner of an NFL Football Team

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Sunday, August 7, 2022

Pakistan Plans to Convert Coal-Fired Power Plants to Domestic Thar Lignite

With a new 330 MW mine-mouth coal-fired power plant in Tharparkar, Pakistan has now reached 990 MW of power fueled by the local lignite. Thar coal production is being expanded and plans are in place to convert three more coal fired plants to burn domestic lignite as soon as a rail link is completed to transport the fuel to the rest of the country.  It is worth noting that Pakistan contributes less than 1% of the global greenhouse-gas emissions. Using the higher polluting domestic Thar lignite is crucial to Pakistan's desperate need for cheap energy to spur industrialization for economic growth without running into recurring balance of payments crises. 

Pakistan Electric Power Generation Fuel MiX. Source: Arif Habib

 Last year, hydroelectric dams contributed 37,689 GWH of electricity or 27.6% of the total power generated, making hydropower the biggest contributor to power generated in the country. It was followed by coal (20%), LNG (19%) and nuclear (11.4%).  Nuclear power plants generated 15,540 GWH of electricity in 2021, a jump of 66% over 2020.  Overall, Pakistan's power plants produced 136,572 GWH of power in 2021, an increase of 10.6% over 2020, indicating robust economic recovery amid the COVID19 pandemic. 

Lucky power plant in Karachi has been designed to use Thar Lignite Coal when it is available in sufficient quantity.  Until that time, it will operate on imported lignite coal. Domestic lignite production is being expanded in a bid to replace costly fossil fuel imports that are depleting Pakistan's foreign exchange reserves and exacerbating circular debt in the power sector, according to Nikkei Asia.  

SECMC (Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company) has commissioned a study for converting the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor coal plants in Hub, Jamshoro and Sahiwal to indigenous lignite. A 105km long Thar Rail project is being planned to connect Thar coal fields with Main Line (ML-1) at the New Chhor Halt Station to transport lignite to the power plants in the rest of the country. The transportation of lignite by trucks to Karachi and Kallar Kahar shows its movement by road and rail is feasible and safe despite higher moisture.


Pakistan Electric Power Generation. Source: Arif Habib


Cost Per Unit of Electricity in Pakistan. Source: Arif Habib


Nuclear offers the lowest cost of fuel for electricity (one rupee per KWH) while furnace oil is the most expensive (Rs. 22.2 per KWH). 
 

Construction of 1,100 MW nuclear power reactor K2 unit in Karachi was completed by China National Nuclear Corporation in 2019, according to media reports. Another similar reactor unit K3 is now in operation. It will add another 1,100 MW of nuclear power to the grid in 2022. Chinese Hualong One reactors being installed in Pakistan are based on improved Westinghouse AP1000 design which is far safer than Chernobyl and Fukushima plants.  

The biggest and most important source of low-carbon energy in Pakistan is its hydroelectric power plants, followed by nuclear power. 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


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.”

Pakistan's Current Account Balance vs International Oil Prices. Source: Arif Habib


Recent history shows that Pakistan's current account deficits vary with international oil prices.  Pakistan's trade deficits balloon with rising imported energy prices. One of the keys to managing external account balances lies in reducing the country's dependence on foreign oil and gas. 


Pakistan Power Generation Fuel Mix. Source: Third Pole

It is true that Pakistan has relied on imported fossil fuels to generate electricity. The cost of these expensive imported fuels like furnace oil mainly used by independent power producers (IPPs) has been and continues to be a major contributor to the "exaggerated external demand driven by its rentier economy" referred to by Atif Mian in a recent tweet. However, Pakistan has recently been adding hydronuclear and indigenous coal-fired power plants to gradually reduce dependence on imported fossil fuels. 

Related Links:


Haq's Musings

South Asia Investor Review

Pakistan Among World's Largest Food Producers

Naya Pakistan Housing Program

Food in Pakistan 2nd Cheapest in the World

Indian Economy Grew Just 0.2% Annually in Last Two Years

Pakistan to Become World's 6th Largest Cement Producer by 2030

Has Bangladesh Surged Past India and Pakistan in Per Capita Income?

Pakistan's Computer Services Exports Jump 26% Amid COVID19 Lockdown

Coronavirus, Lives and Livelihoods in Pakistan

Vast Majority of Pakistanis Support Imran Khan's Handling of Covid19 Crisis

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Incomes of Poorest Pakistanis Growing Faster Than Their Richest Counterparts

Can Pakistan Effectively Respond to Coronavirus Outbreak? 

How Grim is Pakistan's Social Sector Progress?

Double Digit Growth in Pakistan's Energy Consumption Confirms Economic Recovery


Trump Picks Muslim-American to Lead Vaccine Effort

COVID Lockdown Decimates India's Middle Class

Pakistan to be World's 7th Largest Consumer Market by 2030

Pakistan's Balance of Payments Crisis

How Has India Built Large Forex Reserves Despite Perennial Trade Deficits

Conspiracy Theories About Pakistan Elections"

PTI Triumphs Over Corrupt Dynastic Political Parties

Strikingly Similar Narratives of Donald Trump and Nawaz Sharif

Nawaz Sharif's Report Card

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Thursday, August 4, 2022

Pakistan's Biggest Food Import: Edible Oil Worth $4.5 Billion Worsens Trade Deficit

Rising demand and soaring prices of cooking oil raised Pakistan's edible oil import bill to $4.5 billion in fiscal year 2021-22, according to government sources. Pakistan is the world's third largest importer of palm oil after India and China. Total cooking oil imports add up to 3.7 million tons while the total annual edible oil consumption is about 5 million tons. Pakistan's palm oil imports are the second biggest commodity import after more than $20 billion in energy imports, accounting for a significant chunk of Pakistan's growing trade and current account deficits.  

Sources of Palm Oil Imports in Pakistan. Source: Dawn

Pakistan Palm Oil Consumption Growth. Source: NationMaster

Pakistan's edible oil consumption has been rising over the years. It is now about 24 Kg per person which is among the highest in the world, according to analysts quoted by Dawn newspaper.  Combined with rising prices, the total imports of palm oil could exceed $6 billion next year. It could further worsen the country's balance of payments problems. Is Pakistan doing anything to try to grow oil palms in the country? Researchers at the Institute of Business Administration (IBA) in Karachi have studied it and reported the following: 

"Based on our research, visits and interviews it was determined that in Pakistan there are ample opportunities and favorable conditions for growing oil-palm trees. Report findings suggest that the coastal belt of Sindh has proven capability of growing oil-palm trees with a per acre yield comparable to that in major oil palm growing countries due to plenty of fertile land, irrigation water courses, supply of fertilizers, and skilled farmers available in this part of land".  

Pakistan Food Imports. Source: TDAP

Sindh Coastal Development Authority (CDA) has recently announced plans to plant 60,000 oil palm trees on an area of 1,000 acres in the current fiscal year.  An earlier project in 2020 showed that the oil content of palm fruit from Sindh's plantation in Thatta is 2% higher than the world average. 

Per Capita Wheat Consumption in Pakistan vs World. Source: Abdul Mottaleb et al

Southern Indian state of Telangana has launched a much more ambitious project to plant palm oil trees on 2 million acres of land in the next four years.  To achieve this goal, the state has plans to build large dams and irrigation canals and import millions of germinated sprouts.

Related Links:

Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Pakistan: The Next Electronics Manufacturing Hub?

Soaring demand for consumer electronics and low labor costs are attracting major global smartphone manufacturers like Samsung to Pakistan. In 2021, local manufacturers produced 25 million handsets, up a whopping 88% increase from 13 million produced in 2020. A key factor credited for this rapid production ramp-up is the new Mobile Device Manufacturing Policy announced and implemented by former Prime Minister Imran Khan's government in 2020. It imposes high tariffs on the import of mobile phone sets and offers tax rebates for local manufacturing. The policy set a 49% localization target by June 2023, including 10% localization of components on the motherboard and 10% localization of batteries.  Pakistan is forecast to be the world's 7th largest consumer market by 2030. The key to attracting more manufacturing in Pakistan lies in continuation of pro-investment policies and a measure of political stability. 

Pakistan Going From Imports to Exports of Mobile Handsets. Source: PIDE

The local manufacturing plants have assembled 14.08 million mobile phone handsets in the first six months (January-June) of 2022, while imports declined to 1.14 million handsets, according to the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA). Implementation of Device Identification Registration and Blocking System (DIRBS) and conducive government policies including the Mobile Device Manufacturing Policy 2020 have created a favorable environment for mobile device manufacturing in Pakistan.

Pakistan Mobile Phone Market. Source: PIDE

In addition to Samsung, a number of Chinese mobile handset manufacturers are investing in Pakistan to ramp up local production. Itel has manufactured 3.91 million mobile devices followed by VGO Tel's 2.97 million, Infinix 2.65 million, Vivo 2.45 million, Techno 1.87 million, QQMEE 0.86 million and Oppo 0.67 million. After the export of the first lot of 4G smartphones to the UAE in 2022, Pakistan has now set $1 billion target for mobile phone exports for the current fiscal year. 

Pakistan Telecom Indicators. Source: PTA

Pakistan wants to emulate Vietnam which has emerged as one of the leading countries in the assembly and export of smartphones and other consumer electronics devices in the past decade. Apple has recently moved part of its iPad manufacturing to Vietnam from China, where Covid lockdowns have disrupted supply chains.  TRT World has recently quoted Quentin D’Silva, the head of Lucky's smartphone division in Pakistan, as saying, “It’s only in the last five to seven years that the smartphone business has mushroomed in developing countries like ours". 



Friday, July 29, 2022

Pakistani Tech Startups Attract Record VC Funding in First Half of 2022

Technology startups in Pakistan received record $249 million funding during January-June 2022, up a whopping 171% from the same period last year. A total of 35 deals closed, up 6% from the first half of 2021. July 2022 saw a maiden investment from Sequoia Capital which is considered among the top venture capital firms headquartered in Silicon Valley, California.  Last year was a banner year for Pakistani startups with $310 million venture capital investments. 


Venture Capital Investments in MENAPT Region 1H/22. Source: Magnitt


Sequoia Capital and Kleiner Perkins co-led $17.6 million seed round in Islamabad-based fintech startup DBank this month. DBank has been founded by Tania Aidrus and Khurram Jamali, both of whom have studied the challenges the unbanked population faces closely at their previous stint at Google, where they worked on payments rails for the company’s Next Billion Users initiative, according to Tech Crunch

Soaring VC Investments in Pakistani Startups. Source: Bloomberg


Pakistani startups set a record in 2021 with $310 million venture capital investments, more than the previous six years combined, according to Bloomberg.  The South Asian nation has seen a wave of investments from many global venture capital firms, including Sequoia Capital and Kleiner Perkins -- early investors in Google and Amazon.com Inc.

Venture Capital Investments in MENAPT Region 1H/22. Source: Magnitt


Pakistan's technology sector is in the midst of an unprecedented boom. It is being fueled by the country's growing human capital and rising investments in technology startups. A tweet by Swedish fund manager Mattias Martinsson captured it well when he wrote, "Have followed Pakistan for 15 years. Can't recall any time time when VC activity was anywhere near we've seen in the last few months. Impact of reforms kicking in?".  New laws have made it easier to create startups and offered greater protection to investors.  Digital infrastructure has expanded with over 100 million smartphones and an equal number of broadband subscriptions. 

With expanding Internet infrastructure and rapidly growing user base, Pakistan is now seeing robust growth in venture money pouring into technology startups. Pakistani startups have already attracted more than $310 million in funding in FY 2021-22, 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 a 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. Another example is Sequoia Capital's first investment in Pakistan this month. 

Pakistan Technology Exports. Source: Arif Habib


Pakistan's technology exports are experiencing rapid growth in double digits over the last decade. Total technology exports jumped 22% to $2.6 billion in fiscal year 2021-22, as reported by Arif Habib Securities

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 a 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.      

Please watch the following video presentation for more details on Pakistan's technology startup ecosystem:

https://youtu.be/ePApXOM3vkQ