As reported by The News, the import of mobile phones in Pakistan has increased almost six times over the last three years. This is alarming because it causes huge drain on foreign reserves and deprives Pakistan of the economic benefits of telecom growth. One wonders why have we not come up with any alternatives yet? I find it completely unacceptable and a failure on the part of Pakistan government. A quote from the report:

A senior PTA official said that it was need of time to promote and facilitate local manufacturing of telecom equipment, he said and added that the government should attract foreign companies to invest in this area as there was continuous demand for telecom equipments in the country which would decrease the burden on foreign exchange and create further employment.

Here is the rest of the report, courtsey of The News.

During July-November 2006 of last year, mobile phones worth $294.7 million were imported in the country as compared to $51.3 million during the same period in 2003.

The import of advanced technology and sophisticated sets with camera and music facility are on top while Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) says that this trend looks to grow in the next one year as these features have become standard.

Mobile phone companies have reduced the rates of sets boosting the trend of replacing old mobiles with new ones. Retailers believe that the number of handsets imported currently in the country has crossed the figure of one million per month.

According to an estimate, there are more than 1,50,000 mobile phone shops across Pakistan generating employment for over 6,00,000 people. Mobile phone shops include high end franchise show rooms to small kiosks in markets and shopping malls.

The total value of handsets imported in Pakistan during the last fiscal year crossed $1 billion and expected growth in imports is 25 per cent.The import of other telecom equipment has also increased due to the expansion of telecom network and services.

Nokia is leading in the market as it has holding more than 50 per cent share in the market while Sony has more than 20 per cent users.

According to the figures issued by the State Bank of Pakistan, $268 million was spent on the import of mobile phone and other apparatus during July-November 2004. Mobile phone and other apparatus worth $451 million were imported between July-November 2005.

A cell phone retailer at Hall Road said that the sale of used mobile has dropped after the launch of IMEI system which blocks the snatched mobiles. He said that the people were reluctant to use the old mobile phone as it could create a problem for them. He said that many shopkeepers selling used mobiles, also gave guarantee to remove apprehensions from the minds of customers.