Thursday, December 27, 2018

2018 Year-end Review of Science and Technology in Pakistan

Pakistan saw its technology exports grow by double digits to surge past $1 billion mark in 2018. Nature magazine reported the country ranked first in the world in research output growth in year 2018. Pakistan mobile broadband subscriptions grew by 1-2 million a month to pass 60 million. Google's Singapore-based Asia business lead Lars Anthonisen wrote that "Pakistan is quickly becoming a digital-first country". Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba and its digital payments platform Alipay entered Pakistan market by acquiring Daraz.pk and Telenor EasyPaisa.  Dr. Ata ur Rahman Khan, former chairman of higher education commission, asserted in an op ed that "Pakistan churns out about 22,000 computer-science graduates each year". Pakistan set an ambitious goal for its first human space flight in 2022.  It was an exciting year for science and technology in the South Asian nation of over 200 million people.

Pakistan Technology Exports:

Pakistan's information technology exports have bucked the nation's declining exports trend with double digit growth to reach $1,065 million in fiscal year 2018, according to the State Bank of Pakistan.  It is generally believed that Pakistan's central bank underestimates technology exports. Some have argued that the actual IT exports were closer to $5 billion in fiscal 2018. Some of the differences can be attributed to the fact that the State Bank IT exports data does not include various non-IT sectors such as financial services, automobiles, and health care.

Source: State Bank of Pakistan

Pakistan IT exports surged 13.4% to $1.06 billion in fiscal year 2018 from $939 million in fiscal year 2017. The growth was even more robust in the prior year with IT exports rising 19.1% from $789 million in fiscal 2016 to reach $939 million in fiscal year 2017.

Source: State Bank of Pakistan

About $320 million of IT exports revenue in fiscal 2018 came from software exports while the rest was made up of services such as consulting, telecom and call centers.

Scientific Research Output:

Pakistan is one of the world's top two countries where the research output rose the fastest in 2018, according to Nature Magazine. The publication reports that the "global production of scientific papers hit an all-time high this year...with emerging economies rising fastest".

Countries With Biggest Rises in Research Output. Source: Nature


Pakistan ranked first or second depending  on whether one accepts the text or the graphic (above) published by Nature.  The text says Egypt had 21% growth while the graph shows Pakistan with 21% growth. Here's an excerpt of the text: "Emerging economies showed some of the largest increases in research output in 2018, according to estimates from the publishing-services company Clarivate Analytics. Egypt and Pakistan topped the list in percentage terms, with rises of 21% and 15.9%, respectively. ...China’s publications rose by about 15%, and India, Brazil, Mexico and Iran all saw their output grow by more than 8% compared with 2017".

Pakistan's quality-adjusted scientific output (Weighted Functional Count) as reported in Nature Index has doubled from 18.03 in 2013 to 37.28 in 2017. Pakistan's global ranking has improved from 53 in 2013 to 40 in 2017. In the same period, India's WFC has increased from 850.97 in 2013 to 935.44 in 2017. India's global ranking has improved from 13 in 2013 to 11 in 2017.

Pakistan Telecom Indicators. Source: PTA

Digital Growth:

Mobile broadband subscriptions (3G and 4G) grew at a rate of 1-2 million per month to pass 60 million in 2018, according to data from Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA).  Rising digital infrastructure is enabling a whole range of applications from e-commerce to digital payments and greater financial inclusion. It prompted Google's Singapore-based Asia business lead to write that "Pakistan is quickly becoming a digital-first country"

Alipay, a subsidiary of Hangzhou-based Ant Financial, has received approval by the Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP) to acquire a 45 percent stake in Pakistan's Telenor Microfinance Bank for $184 million.  Alipay's entry is expected to expedite widespread adoption of digital payments in the country. Several domestic mobile payment services offered by telecom operators are currently operating in Pakistan. The lack of international reach has kept the penetration rate of the payment portals relatively low. Entry of Alipay, the world's largest mobile payment platform, will intensify digital payments competition,  improve the quality of service, energize the industry and enhance financial inclusion in a country where less than 20% of the population has bank accounts.

E-Commerce Growth:

At the World Economic Forum in 2017, Ebay’s chief executive Devin Wenig highlighted Pakistan as one of the fastest growing e-commerce markets in the world.  It might have prompted Alibaba to acquire Daraz.pk, Pakistan’s largest e-commerce platform, in May 2018.

Online sales in Pakistan's $152 billion retail market are doubling every year,  according to Adam Dawood of Yayvo online portal.  The country's retail market is the fastest growing in the world, according to Euromonitor.  Expanding middle class, particularly millennials with rising disposable incomes, is demanding branded and packaged consumer goods ranging from personal and baby care items to food and beverage products. Strong demand for fast moving consumer goods is drawing large new investments of hundreds of millions of dollars.  Rapid growth in sales of consumer products and services is driving other sectors, including retail, e-commerce, paper and packaging, advertising, media, sports and entertainment. Potential downsides of soaring consumption include increased amount of  solid waste and decline in domestic savings and investment rates.

Summary:

Pakistan saw its technology exports grow by double digits to surge pass $1 billion mark in 2018. Nature magazine reported the country ranked first in the world in research output growth in year 2018. Pakistan mobile broadband subscriptions grew by 1-2 million a month to pass 60 million. Google's Singapore-based Asia business lead wrote that "Pakistan is quickly becoming a digital-first country". Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba and its digital payments platform Alipay entered Pakistan market by acquiring Daraz.pk and Telenor EasyPaisa.  Dr. Ata ur Rahman Khan, former chairman of higher education commission, asserted in an op ed that "Pakistan churns out about 22,000 computer-science graduates each year". Pakistan set an ambitious goal for its first human space flight in 2022.  It was an exciting year for science and technology in the South Asian nation of over 200 million people.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

South Asia Investor Review

Pakistan's Research Output Growth Fastest in the World

Alibaba Enters Pakistan Market

Alipay Enters Pakistan Market

AI Research at NED University Funded By Silicon Valley NEDians

Pakistan Hi-Tech Exports Exceed A Billion US Dollars in 2018 

Pakistan Becomes CERN Member

Pakistani Scientists at CERN

Rising College Enrollment in Pakistan

Pakistani Universities Listed Among Asia's Top 500 Jump From 16 to 23 in One Year

Genomics and Biotech Research in Pakistan

Human Capital Growth in Pakistan

Educational Attainment in Pakistan

Pakistan Human Development in Musharraf Years

16 comments:

Liaqat (PTI) said...

With god's grace Inshallah, Pakistan will rise and become the best economy in 10 years. Not the biggest but the best because of equality, talent, youth drive and synchronization of all sectors of the economy. The dedication and ethics of PM IK in 10 years - and I hope for 10 years will turn Pakistan into a tiger economy with China as our partner and based on egalitarian society which you have talked about.

Thank you Mr. Haq for sharing hope and confidence in Pakistan.

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan Council Of Renewable Energy Technologies (PCRET) Installs 562 Micro-hydel Power Plants To Electrify 80,000 Houses

https://www.urdupoint.com/en/pakistan/pakistan-council-of-renewable-energy-technolo-515947.html


Pakistan Council of Renewable Energy Technologies (PCRET), which is working under Ministry of Science and Technology, has installed 562 micro-hydel power plants with total capacity of 9.7 MW during the last five years, electrifying more than 80,000 houses.

An official source from Ministry of Science and Technology told APP that the ministry and its research and development organizations are mandated to develop technologies for socio-economic development of the country.

Technologies have been developed in different sectors like water, renewable energy, electronics, health, Small and Medium sized Enterprises (SMEs), industry, agriculture etc to directly and indirectly benefit a common man.

Listing different technologies developed during the last five years, the official source informed that PCRET has installed 155 small wind turbines in Sindh and Balochistan electrifying 1560 houses and installed 4016 biogas plants.

The council has established 20 KW hybrid system including solar, MHP and wind in collaboration with China for research and training purposes.

PCRET has also designed and stimulated Wind Turbine and solar products including Solar Cooker, Solar Dryer, Solar Water Heater and Solar Desalination.

During the last five years, Pakistan Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (PCSIR) which is also an important department of the ministry has developed Coal Water Slurry Fuel and Reinforced Derived Fuel and solar driven one inch and two inches water pumps. PCSIR has also designed the Solar Powered Reverse Osmosis Plant, the source said.

While National Institute of Electronics (NIE) has developed LED lights, Solar Charge Controller, Automatic Voltage Stabilizer and cascaded multilevel inverter based transformer-less Unified Power Flow Controller, it added.

Riaz Haq said...


11 CPEC projects completed, 11 in progress

https://nation.com.pk/31-Dec-2018/11-cpec-projects-completed-11-in-progress

$18.9 billion investment made so far have created 75,000 jobs


According to the latest progress report on CPEC issued by the Chinese Embassy in Pakistan, 20 more projects were in pipeline under CPEC, which was the largest and most comprehensive project under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), besides being of great political, economic and social significance to China and Pakistan.

For implementation of CPEC, the two sides have set up a ministerial-level Joint Cooperation Committee on CPEC Long Term Planning (JCC) and seven joint working groups on planning, energy, transportation infrastructure, Gwadar Port, industrial cooperation, social economic development and international cooperation. They also decided to establish Joint Working Groups on social economic development and international cooperation.

Out of 15 energy projects planned as priority with a total generation capacity of 11,110MW, seven have been completed and in operation, while another six are under construction with a total capacity of 6,910 MW.

At present, Zonergy 300MW Solar Park, 50MW Dawood Wind Farm, Jhimpir UEP wind power project, Sachal 50MW Wind Farm, Sahiwal 2×660MW Coal-fired Power Plant, Port Qasim 2×660MW Coal-fired Power Plant and Three Gorges Second and Third Wind Power Projects have been completed. These projects have added 3240 MW to the Pakistani national grid, amounting to more than 11% of the total installed capacity of 29,000 MW in the country.

CPEC energy projects are providing affordable energy to Pakistani consumers in a diversified way. The tariff of power plants has been sharply decreased from Rs 16-18 to around Rs 8 per unit. With the introduction of CPEC energy projects, Pakistan also reduced its heavy dependence on gas and LNG power plants, which account for 50% of total installed capacity. The CPEC energy projects are foreign direct investment and are executed in accordance with BO(O)T mode. Any debt arising from the CPEC energy projects would be borne by the Chinese investors instead of the Pakistani government.

Regarding infrastructure projects, the report said currently, three projects including KKH Phase-II (Havelian-Thakot section), Karachi-Lahore Motorway (Sukkur-Multan section) and Lahore Orange Line are under construction. The information highway for laying of an optical fiber cable (OFC) from Rawapindi to Khunjrab is in operation. These ongoing projects are funded by preferential loans from the Chinese government at around 2% interest rate with a total amount of 5.874 billion USD. The up-gradation of ML1 railway and the KCR are under discussion.

About Gwadar Port, it said up to now China Overseas Ports Holding Company (COPHC) has invested $ 250 million in the port renovation. Five new quay cranes, a 100,000 M2 storage yard, a seawater desalination plant with capacity of 220,000-gallon pure water/day, two sets of sewage disposal systems and cargo handling equipment have been installed and 80,000 M2 green space has been added to the port area. 400,000 tons of cargoes have been handled by Gwadar Port in 2017.

The Gwadar Free Zone is located in the northern part of Gwadar. The planned development period is from 2015 to 2030, and is divided into four phases. The 923-hectare Free Zone includes an initial area (25 hectares) and the northern area (898 hectares).

Around 30 companies have invested in the Free Zone, with direct investment of about $474 million. With the construction of the free zone, the city of Gwadar will become a commercial hub of the region in the near future. The construction of Gwadar East Bay Expressway project was started in November 2017 and would be completed in 36 months with the designed speed of 100 kilometers per hour

.------------
Financing Run Down of 22 CPEC Projects
2018/12/29
https://pk.chineseembassy.org/eng/zbgx/t1625940.htm

Riaz Haq said...

The economy in 2019 by Hammad Azhar



The economy has slowed down, the Rupee has been devalued, interest rates have gone up and there has been some increase in the rate of inflation in the country. Why has this happened? And what prospects does the economy hold in 2019? This article answers the above questions in an honest and as simple a manner as is possible.

https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/413356-the-economy-in-2019

Pakistan’s economy is recovering from what can be best described as a ‘consumption led’ growth period that was financed by short term debt instruments and a stifling of investment climate. Consumption as percentage of GDP went up from the already worrying figure of 91.8% in FY14 to 94.5% in 2018. Correspondingly, total gross investment (that includes government investment also) in Pakistan was reported at just 16.4% of GDP in FY18 whereas India’s figure stands at close to 30% and Bangladesh is at 31% of GDP. Additionally, our spur of consumption spree was associated with policies in the past that instead of channeling the countries resources into savings, investments and industrialization further aggravated the problem of private investment. And here’s how:

To begin with, we saw a very visible deterioration in the economy’s fundamentals as the country exited the last IMF program in 2016 and all forms of fiscal and monetary discipline were abandoned. What this means is that we were fuelling growth in the economy by spending from resources that we did not have. For example, in the last financial year alone, RS 1300 billion of government spending was financed by printing money and monetization of public debt. The previous government was also happy to ask FBR to withhold genuine refunds to the tune of hundreds of billions of Rupees of businessmen and entrepreneurs that further squeezed their working capital and halted all their expansions. This whole model broadly represented the previous government’s fiscal policy and it’s no surprise that it fuelled only consumption growth. And it also led to whopping RS 2300 billion or 6.6 % of fiscal deficit in the system i.e. the excess of government spending over government’s income.

Now let’s take a look at the monetary side. In the first 4 years of the previous government, the Real Exchange Rate (the buying power of the currency in comparison to other currencies) appreciated by 28% without any improvement in the trade deficit to justify this increase. This means that our exports became that much uncompetitive in the international markets and we began subsidizing our imports. This led to the closure of hundreds of export houses and fuelled a largely consumption led increase in our imports. From a point where we had a Current Account deficit of just USD 2.5 BN in 2013, the figure soared to USD 19 Billion in 2018.

The second aspect of monetary policy is Interest Rates. The interest rates were kept low in the past but that also did not translate into any notable increase in private sector borrowing, the loans that our entrepreneurs use for investments and setting up businesses and industry. The reason that private sector was not advanced these loans by the banks is that the government was doing what the economists call ‘crowding out’ the private sector. The banks were more than happy to lend to the government in the form of Treasury Bills. So in effect, the lower interest rates actually did not lead to any investment and the whole monetary scheme of things further fuelled the consumption spree.

The result of the above mentioned fiscal and monetary policies was not surprising for any economist. The country came on the verge of bankruptcy at the close of the last financial year (FY2018). Once both the IMF program ended and oil prices began to rise, the superficial nature of the whole economic model unfolded and the State was left with nothing to finance its fiscal expenditures and its huge import bill.

So what has the new government done about this? And what does it plan to do in order to make sure that the repeat of the above does not take place?

Riaz Haq said...

The economy in 2019 by Hammad Azhar



The economy has slowed down, the Rupee has been devalued, interest rates have gone up and there has been some increase in the rate of inflation in the country. Why has this happened? And what prospects does the economy hold in 2019? This article answers the above questions in an honest and as simple a manner as is possible.

https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/413356-the-economy-in-2019



So what has the new government done about this? And what does it plan to do in order to make sure that the repeat of the above does not take place?

The first and foremost plank of the new government’s economic priority in 2018 has been that the country must meet its financing obligations in terms of debt repayment due this financial year (USD 9 billion) and that the current account deficit is reduced to the range from USD 11-13 Billion from the current USD 19 Billion. The fiscal side also has to show improvement as the last reported fiscal deficit of 6.6% is not sustainable. The above priorities are necessary and overarching in order to keep the economy functioning and not defaulting on its both external and internal obligations.

The good news is that as a result of adjustments by SBP in the exchange rate and the imposition of Regulatory Duties by the government on non-essential items, we have seen a sharp reduction in the growth of imports that has gone down from the figure of 26% growth to a negative figure. Some commentators have criticized the steep adjustment in the exchange rate. However, one has to take into account the fact that the exchange rate was allowed to appreciate in real terms and the need for corrections had been piling up for at least 4 of the last 5 years. Therefore the country had deviated significantly from its Actual Exchange Rate value and a one-time steep adjustment had become inevitable.

The foreign remittances, another foreign exchange source, have also shown a very encouraging rise of 12.5% in the first quarter and the export sector is also showing a positive growth. In 2019, the government shall announce a comprehensive incentives package for overseas workers to send their remittances through the formal channels. Improving the speed, security and reducing the red tape that is currently surrounding the formal channel procedures is a central aspect of the upcoming incentives package for foreign remittances.

The new government’s successful foreign policy has led to friendly countries offering us sizeable support for our Balance of Payments. Bilateral assistance in the form of funds and deferred oil payment facilities from KSA, UAE and other countries has begun to pour in. As a result of the above, the country has successfully averted the balance of payments crises and all economic trends indicate that our deficits are coming down rapidly to within manageable ranges.

The second economic priority of the PTI government is that growth shall now have to be led by exports, investment and productivity instead of consumption and imported finance capital. I mention exports first because a country earns its foreign exchange primarily by virtue of this sector. And foreign exchange earnings are required to fill our huge financing gap and escape from the debt dependency trap. The readjustment of the exchange rate by bringing it at par with its actual market value has helped in restoring competitiveness of our exports. Furthermore, the government has also reached an agreement with the export sectors with regards to freeing up their entire stock of working capital stuck up with FBR in the shape of pending refund claims.

Riaz Haq said...

86% of all #patents awarded in #India in 2017 went to #foreigners
The number of patents granted by India jumped 50 per cent to 12,387 in 2017 as compared to 8,248 granted in the previous year, according to data released by the UN's World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO).

India granted 86 per cent (10,675) of the total patents to foreigners as compared to 14 per cent (1,712) awarded to entities and individuals based in India.

#Indians received 1700 patents awarded in #India which is about 8x those awarded to #Pakistanis in #Pakistan

"Filing abroad reflects the globalisation of intellectual property (IP) protection and a desire to commercialise technology in foreign markets. The costs of filing abroad can be substantial, so the patents for which applicants seek international protection are likely to confer higher values," quoted the report released by WIPO in Geneva on Monday. Among other factors, technological specialisation, proximity and market size influence cross-border applications, the report highlighted.

https://www.businesstoday.in/current/economy-politics/india-patent-united-nations-un-world-intellectual-property-organisation-wipo/story/297303.html

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistani #startups raised over $341 million of VC #investments in 2018

https://www.techjuice.pk/pakistani-startups-raised-over-317-million-of-investments-in-2018/

2018 has ended, and the Pakistani entrepreneurial ecosystem has yet to witness a unicorn. Yet, the number of investments raised by Pakistani startups in 2018 outdo the previous year.

Pakistan is now gaining traction as one of the emerging ecosystems to currently invest in the Asian region. While local investors continue to struggle to build their investment portfolio, foreign investors are taking the lead to venture into the Pakistani market.

This year, over 40 startups at different stages have closed investment deals out of which 54 percent were women-led businesses. While some of the major deals of the year were raised by a local extension of an international group, it is worth noting that Pakistan is attracting capital as a potential business location.

With the establishment of three venture funds involving international partners such as Sarmayacaar, SparkLabs, and i2i Ventures, 2019 is expected to fuel the local startups with more capital. Meanwhile, let’s look back with TechJuice at the year of investments.

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan expects more #fintech from #China, says Pak central banker. The #blockchain technology powered by China's Ant Financial Services Group bridges local #mobile #payment platform Easypaisa and #Malaysian remittance service Valyou,- http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2019-01/09/c_137729242.htm#0-twi-1-66604-7250227817ecdff034dc9540e6c76667

Governor of the State Bank of Pakistan Tariq Bajwa said Tuesday that his country expects more financial technology from China to help develop digital financial service in Pakistan.

The governor made the remarks during a launching ceremony of the country's first blockchain technology backed home remittances service. "This puts Pakistan on the map of very few in the world that have launched international remittance using blockchain technology," he added.

The blockchain technology powered by China's Ant Financial Services Group bridged local mobile payment platform Easypaisa and Malaysian remittance service Valyou, realizing round-the-clock, real-time and low-cost money transfers between Pakistan and Malaysia.

The service aims to promote and encourage the use of formal channels for remittances, with all existing incentives offered by the State Bank of Pakistan for promotion of international remittance through mobile wallet being applicable for this service.

Bajwa said cooperation between Pakistan and China has gone beyond infrastructure construction and reached financial technology areas, adding that the new remittances service will bring a breakthrough to Pakistan's financial services sector and contribute to the country's financial digitalization.

For his part, Chairman and CEO of Ant Financial Eric Jing said on the occasion that "the new remittance service is one of the examples of how emerging technologies can help countries meet their digital and financial inclusion goals."

He told Xinhua that through the blockchain technology backed remittances service, his company is making efforts to offer inclusive financial services to more Pakistani people to contribute to sustainable economic development in Pakistan.

He said Ant Financial also pays attention to seeking local partners to develop joint ventures in Pakistan in efforts to make joint development with local partners through the new technologies.

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan’s First #Blockchain-Based #Remittance Service Launched Using #Alipay’s #Technology. Pak #Telenor and #Malaysia's #fintech firm Valyou offer the service. Service is expected to enhance the #efficiency and #speed of remittances
https://www.ccn.com/pakistans-first-blockchain-based-remittance-service-launched-using-alipays-technology/

A Pakistani financial institution has rolled out a cross-border remittance service based on blockchain technology developed by Alibaba affiliate, Alipay.

Telenor Microfinance Bank and Malaysian fintech firm Valyou have partnered to offer the service to that will operate between Malaysia and Pakistan. The service is expected to enhance the efficiency and speed of remittances from the former to the latter.

Additionally, Pakistan’s first blockchain-based remittance service will eliminate intermediary costs making it cheaper to send money. Users will also be able to track the remittances at ‘every step of the way’, according to a statement.

Lucrative Remittance Market
At the moment, it is estimated that Pakistanis living and working in Malaysia send around $1 billion annually. This is about 5% of the estimated $20 billion in remittances that is sent by the combined Pakistani diaspora spread across the globe. The State Bank of Pakistan’s governor, Tariq Bajwa, noted during the launch of the service that remittances contribute significantly to the country’s economy.

At around USD 20 billion per year, international remittances are important from the perspective of overall macroeconomic stability and their positive spillover in improving lives of millions of families. Home remittances contributed to over 6% in GDP, equivalent to over 50% of our trade deficit, 85% of exports and over one-third of imports during FY 2017-18.

This is not the first time that Alipay is involved in a blockchain-based remittance solution in Asia. Mid last year, Hong Kong-based AlipayHK announced a blockchain-based money transfer service between Hong Kong and the Philippines.

https://twitter.com/CryptoCoinsNews/status/101157117132065177

During the launch of the service the founder of Alibaba, Jack Ma, indicated that he had long wanted to reduce remittance costs between China and Pakistan:

This comes from a promise I made a long time ago when Alipay was just launched. I have friends who are Filipino and they asked me when they could use Alipay to send money home because it was too expensive through banks, which charge too much.

Filipino Remittance Market
Currently, the Philippines is the world’s third-largest remittance market. In 2017, inflows into the Southeast Asian country amounted to approximately $3 billion. A significant proportion of the expatriate community in Hong Kong hails from the Philippines. In 2016, Filipinos in the city-state are estimated to have remitted $561 million to their home country.

Another Chinese firm that recently announced plans to launch a remittance service in the Philippines is Huaren Capital. Unlike Alipay, Huaren Capital will launch a stablecoin pegged to the Filipino Peso and partner with local banks.

Riaz Haq said...

Hike shows why super apps don’t work in India the way they do in China


https://qz.com/india/1522956/why-kavin-mittals-hike-could-not-be-chinas-wechat-for-india/


In China, WeChat—a mash-up of WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram, Yelp, Paypal, Twitter, Uber, Kindle, and more—has become an indispensable part of everyday life for people. The super app provides a long list of services from booking cabs to ordering food delivery to playing games to transferring money, keeping users locked in its ecosystem.

But the creator of India’s popular instant messaging app, Hike, believes this is no China.

Until now, Hike has housed messaging, news updates, digital payments, and cab bookings all under one app-roof. But on Jan. 10, it announced plans to unbundle in 2019.

“In our business the user experience is key and the value isn’t just in the number of users but how engaged they are on our platforms,” said founder and CEO Kavin Bharti Mittal. “Unbundling Hike into multiple apps focused on doing one thing allows us more room in the pixels to deliver much more around one problem.”

Social features like messaging, and content where snackable posts are available, are two segments within the current Hike app that drive high engagement. Users spend upwards of 30 minutes daily in each. Going forward, Hike’s 100 million users will be able to choose between continuing to use the current Hike app or migrating to the specific new apps as they branch off.

Experts think the decision is apt. “India is still in the formative stages when it comes to getting users acquainted to being app-dependent,” said Sanchit Vir Gogia, chief analyst and CEO at Greyhound Research. “Super apps are for more evolved users who have already gone through the learning curve. Hence they do way better in Japan and China, where penetration of smartphones and mobile internet is way better.” In fact, WeChat itself tanked in India.

The move comes eight months after Hike, which began as an instant messenger in 2012, admitted to spreading itself too thin. In the first place, the company didn’t have a clear path to monetisation; acquisitions and employees were weighing heavy on its costs. As part of cleaning up its act, Hike shuttered its Bengaluru office and laid off nearly 25% of its 350-strong workforce in May last year.

Riaz Haq said...

Going cashless in Shanghai
By Jennifer Pak

https://www.marketplace.org/2019/01/15/world/going-cashless-shanghai

It’s been more than six years since the World Trade Organization ruled that foreign credit card companies should be able to operate freely in China, but it still hasn’t happened.

And it might already be too late for Visa, Mastercard and American Express to compete there. Only one in two people in China has a credit card, according to the People's Bank of China. The average American has 2.6 cards.

In major cities like Shanghai, residents can get by with just two mobile payment apps: Alibaba’s Alipay and Tencent’s WeChat Pay.

Mobile payment has exploded in China. In 2016, Chinese consumers made about $23 trillion (157.55 trillion yuan) worth of transactions through mobile payment platforms, according to the People's Bank of China. That compares to an estimate of just over $100 billion in the U.S. that same year.

Jennifer Pak, Marketplace China correspondent
Forms of payments used in the last 72 hours: Mostly WeChat Pay, Alipay

Places of purchase: Local vegetable and seafood market, fruit store, DiDi rideshare app, supermarket, e-commerce app Taobao by Alibaba, restaurants, Shanghai utilities

Items: Vegetables, seafood, meat, fruits, baking soda, taxi fares, children’s toy, utility bills, meals at restaurants

Cash use: Once, to pay for Chinese language lessons

Riaz Haq said...

Can Pakistan Ride the New Tech Wave?
Feb 8, 2019 ASAD JAMAL

https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/pakistan-technology-startups-follow-china-s-lead-by-asad-jamal-2019-02

Technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship are the key ingredients for economic success in the twenty-first century, as the US and China are demonstrating. If Pakistan can also realize its huge untapped potential in these fields, the result could be a more dynamic country that is better placed to solve many of its other problems.

I soon learned that in the new Internet world, these obstacles were perfectly normal and surmountable by visionary, passionate entrepreneurs with big dreams and ideas. Consequently, my firm went ahead and invested in Robin’s vision. Within five years of that first meeting, Baidu went from little more than an idea to being the leader in China’s Internet search industry, leaving Google and Yahoo far behind. Today, it is one of China’s top three Internet companies, forming the so-called BAT triumvirate along with Alibaba and Tencent. Robin himself is now the Larry Page (or Bill Gates) of China, with a net worth of over $10 billion.

Baidu’s story is similar to that of many other successful tech firms. Like Alibaba, Apple, Google, and Facebook, the company was driven by young founders rather than older business tycoons. In addition, Baidu initially relied on venture capital for equity funding, avoiding the conventional bank debt that would have been a kiss of death for a young start-up. Like its successful US peers, Baidu posed a radical and disruptive challenge to incumbent market leaders. Finally, Baidu showed that good ideas can grow at an exponential pace, as its market share rose from zero to market leadership in five years.

Since then, the pace of technological innovation has accelerated further, with the computing and Internet revolution morphing into a new one powered by artificial intelligence, nanotech-biotech, and cyber-physical systems. Here, too, the opportunities for visionary entrepreneurs are huge. And here, too, the global leaders are the US and China, with the latter continuing its remarkable recent tech development.


At present, Pakistan’s economy is focused on traditional industrial sectors, agriculture, textiles, fertilizer, and cement, leaving it trapped somewhere between the first and second industrial revolutions. The combined market value of all 559 companies listed on the Pakistan Stock Exchange is about $60 billion, equivalent to that of a single top-100 technology company.

To break its cycle of poverty, Pakistan must create conditions enabling its broad participation in the technology revolution. Only through radical reform can the country leapfrog to the AI-led Fourth Industrial Revolution of today. To achieve this, Pakistan must recognize that its young people are its most precious resource. It should educate and empower them, and cultivate their success, particularly in science and technology. If they succeed, Pakistan succeeds.

The good news for Pakistan and other countries in a similar position is that tech start-ups require far fewer resources than traditional large-scale industrial firms. Whereas the latter typically need hundreds of millions of dollars in capital, plant and machinery, and bank loans, tech companies need only a small team of smart people, computers, modest funding, and mentorship. Young Pakistani entrepreneurs are just as well placed as their Chinese counterparts were two decades ago: they need big ideas and encouragement to build on them.

Here, of course, the provision of venture capital is essential. Pakistan should therefore establish a national venture capital fund to promote technology entrepreneurship. Moreover, China’s rise as an economic and technology leader gives Pakistan a unique opportunity to learn from its neighbor and collaborate with it in education, science, and technology. And Pakistan should leverage its historical ties with US and British universities in these areas.

Here's an Islamabad speech by Asad Jamal: https://youtu.be/OKmtptJyvEo

Riaz Haq said...

International Mentoring Scheme: Physics Programme Offers #STEM Mentoring in Pakistan

https://www.fenews.co.uk/press-releases/31086-physics-programme-offers-international-mentoring-in-pakistan

The previous academic year saw the launch of the International Mentoring Scheme, a programme led by the University of Bristol’s School of Physics, which offered undergraduates the opportunity to work with students in Pakistan.

The aim of the project was twofold, firstly to encourage the study of physics in schools internationally, and secondly to offer students in Bristol some teaching and outreach experience.

Last year eleven University undergraduates took part in the programme which partnered with six schools across Pakistan. This year the number of undergraduate mentors has increased to fourteen, working with eight partner schools.

The programme offers students in Pakistan, who are studying A Levels or their equivalent, a chance to discuss the subject in greater depth and explore beyond the syllabus, as well as to find out something about the everyday life of a university student in the UK. The students in Bristol write a report on their mentoring experience, which staff in the School of Physics assess.

Professor Walther Schwarzacher, from the School of Physics, who initiated the programme said; “I am extremely happy with the response to this programme. There is a huge need worldwide for the skills and understanding that studying physics provides, so it is really essential to encourage prospective physicists wherever they live. This programme has given our undergraduates a chance to share their enthusiasm for the subject with talented pre-university students in Pakistan, and motivate them to persevere.

The great thing is that both mentors and mentees have expressed satisfaction with the experience. Our students value the chance to 'make a difference' but also to gain teaching and communication skills that will be invaluable to them in whichever career path they take. Students overseas get the chance to discuss any parts of their coursework that they find particularly difficult, but also to learn something about more advanced topics such as astrophysics and quantum mechanics.

The mentoring classes were carried out via video, over the internet, which provided a low cost and immediate method to communicate with the Pakistani students.

Naomi Getzler, who is a third year physics student, said; “‘The international mentoring programme was an unexpected gem amongst my third year physics units. In weekly classes on Skype, I introduced aspiring young women physics students at Lahore Grammar School to subjects far beyond their school syllabus - from black holes to white holes, anti-matter to dark matter and the big bang to the big crunch. It was wonderful to encourage and help them on their route to studying STEM subjects at university.”

Uzair is one of the students based in Pakistan, who was able to join the mentoring programme; “The sessions were of great excitement and were very interesting. They were very valuable to us and much of what we learned was outside the constrictions of the classroom and school syllabus. We were able to ask questions which usually go unanswered in the classroom. Our discussions gave us a deeper understanding of the topics.”

Riaz Haq said...

STEM schools to be established in Pakistan: Fawad Chaudhry

https://www.thenews.com.pk/latest/488302-stem-schools-to-be-established-in-pakistan-fawad-chaudhry

Chaudhry Fawad Hussain, Federal Minister for Science and Technology, on Friday said that STEM schools would be established in all the districts of Pakistan.

In a meeting with Chairman HEC Tariq Binori, he expressed his unequivocal intent to make the STEM School Project a success in Pakistan.


While describing the roadmap for the implementation of the STEM project, the minister said that initially seven reputed universities of Pakistan would be included in the Project to impart STEM education to the students ranging from grade 6 to grade 10.

According to the Project, each university will be entrusted with the task of imparting STEM education to two schools.

The Federal Minister said that the teaching staff of the selected university for the Project would be given incentives. He further said that the students of the universities participating in the Project would also be asked to be part of the STEM School Project.

While discussing the implementation of plan with the Chairman HEC, he said that a unique syllabus would be formulated which would be in line with the basic modern standards of science education.

Moreover, criteria for selection of schools and of students for the Project would be set. In this regard, the Minister said, National Testing Service (NTS) would be asked to conduct a screening test for the selection of students so that the suitable students who demonstrate the relevant aptitude for science education may adroitly be selected for the Project.

While expressing his views on the scope and extent of the Project, he said that all the provinces would be taken on board for the countywide implementation and accomplishment of the Project.

Tariq Binori, the Chairman HEC, extended his full-fledged support for the success of the Project. He said that the HEC would extend its technical and financial support for the Project.

While expressing his desire for awareness of science education among the people of Pakistan, Chaudhry Fawad revealed that an International Science Conference was being organised on October 17- the birth anniversary of Sir Syed Ahmed Khan- in which scientists and educationists would be invited from across the globe.

The focus of the Conference would be science, technology, education and innovation.

Riaz Haq said...

4 Pakistani students score big at Intel science fair
3 students among 6 who represented Pakistan at global contest were from schools run by Turkish foundation in country

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/science-technology/4-pakistani-students-score-big-at-intel-science-fair/1489098

Four young Pakistani students secured places at the world's largest pre-college science fair, Intel ISEF, held in the U.S. last week.

Pakistan was represented by six students at the world's largest fair of its kind, including three from Pak-Turk Maarif International Schools, run in Pakistan by a Turkish foundation.

The Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) is the world's largest international pre-college science competition and is held in Phoenix, Arizona featuring over 1,800 students from more than 80 countries, regions, and territories.

Sadaf Naushad, from the Pak-Turk Maarif school, was one of six Pakistani students who presented their science projects at the fair and won a special prize in the field of energy and also got a scholarship at Arizona state University with a cash prize for the grand prize.

Ahmed Zafar and Usaid Ahmed from Karachi and Mian Affan Anwar from Rawalpindi also won prizes and scholarships in the global competition.

"I’m very happy, My family, friends, and colleagues are very happy for my success being recognized there on such a big platform," Sadaf Naushad from Karachi’s Pak-Turk Maarif School told Anadolu Agency.

It’s really a big achievement for my project," she added.

Sadaf’s award-winning project was a dual-purpose highway turbine.

The turbine is a vertical axis wind turbine project that serves two purposes by utilizing the wind produced by a vehicle’s movement along the highway as well as the natural wind.

Speeding vehicles on highways can provide enough wind to power the turbines 24 hours without stopping.

The energy generated can be used for lighting along highways attached to the turbine and also extract water from underground for irrigation.

"The aims of the project is to reduce electricity consumption and generate electricity as a renewable resource to promote greenery near Pakistan's highways," Sadaf explained.

Highway turbines have already been installed in Turkey, but Sadaf's innovation is to pump underground water for irrigation.

Sadaf thanked Turkey’s Maarif Foundation, her teachers, and school administration for their support, saying that Maarif always promote STEM education and encourages teachers and students to participate in competitions, unlike many other schools.



Maarif announcement for students and teachers

Selahattin Batur, the Maarif Foundation's director in Pakistan, announced a special visit to Turkey for the students and teachers who took part in Intel ISEF.

"It’s a great honor that three students among all six participants from Pakistan in the global competition were from Maarif schools," Batur told Anadolu Agency.

All three students and their teachers will be awarded a one-week trip to Turkey, he announced.

Batur said his administration would encourage and support Maarif students entering competitions on the national and international level in the future as well.

Currently the Maarif Foundation is running 28 schools in Pakistan.

Turkey established the Maarif Foundation in 2016 after a coup attempt by the Fetullah Terrorist Group (FETO), a terror group that uses overseas schools as a revenue stream.

Maarif has taken over dozens of the terror-linked schools and reformed their administration and curriculum.

Riaz Haq said...

#Huawei plans $170 million #investment in #Pakistan. Will invest around $100 million this year. Huawei will also set up a regional headquarters in Islamabad at a cost of $55 million that will create job opportunities for young engineers in Pakistan.” #tech https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/499835-huawei-plans-170mln-investment-in-pakistan

Chinese multinational technology company Huawei Group on Wednesday unveiled $170 million investment plan to set up its regional headquarters and upgrade technical support centre in Pakistan.


Huwaei Group Vice President Mark Xueman said Pakistan is a strategic market for the company. “The company will invest around $100 million in the country this year,” Xueman said during a meeting with Minister for Planning, Development and Reform Khusro Bakhtyar.

“Huawei will also set up a regional headquarters in Islamabad at a cost of $55 million that will create job opportunities for young engineers in Pakistan.” Huawei’s official further informed the minister that the company would also invest $15 million more in its technical support centre and it will also hire more workforce for the centre, taking the number of its staff to 800 from 600 this year.

“Huawei is eager to initiate more projects in Pakistan on grant funding from Chinese government,” Xueman said. Huwaei Group Vice President was leading a delegation of businessmen. Minister Bakhtyar assured the delegation of all cooperation in future joint ventures.

Planning minister, while appreciating the company’s continued engagement in the country, said the leading technological company could support the development and upgrading of information and technology sector in Pakistan.

Chinese government initiated $62 billion worth of infrastructure development projects under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) framework. Most of the projects pertain to energy sector. While the first stage of CPEC has almost completed, the next stage focuses industrial developments.

Pakistan is fast-growing telecom market with subscribers of mobile phones having crossed the 160 million mark compared with the country’s population of 210 million. Of total subscribers, 68 million use 3G/4G. There are 70 million broadband subscribers.

The country imports millions of dollars of mobile phones to meet the local requirements with manufacturing and assembling of handheld devices not present in the country. Planning minister said Huawei has 25 percent share in the country’s mobile industry and is also the top taxing paying Chinese company in the country.

The minister appreciated Huawei’s engagement with the Higher Education Commission for smart schools project, providing latest information and communications technology equipment.

Bakhtyar underlined a need of exploring new business models for future projects and joint ventures in the country. “Huawei can contribute to the e-governance initiative as well in centralising data to improve efficiency and productivity.”

The minister said Huawei could support IT start-up projects to benefit the youth in this important sector. Secretary Planning Zafar Hasan, Project Director CPEC Hassan Daud and senior officials of the ministry were also present at the meeting.