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A promising digital future in Pakistan: Chinese expert

Beijing: Pakistan has a promising digital future and as an emerging economy it faces opportunities and challenges, said Vice Chairman of the China Association for International Economic Cooperation (CAFIEC), Chinese Ministry of Commerce and China. President of the Council for International Economic and Technological Administration, Beijing.

“As an emerging economy, Pakistan is facing both opportunities and challenges. It is considered to be the fifth largest young country in the world. Around 63 per cent of the country’s population comprises youth aged between 15 and 33. The large proportion of young people means they are adaptable but they have weak spending power,” Xulong said in an interview.

To address this, market segmentation will be a viable path for Pakistan towards digitalisation. The performance of some Chinese phone brands in Pakistan has been impressive in recent years. “So if it helps to divide a target market into smaller and more defined categories, it will definitely help us gain more market share. That is what we can share with our Pakistani brothers.

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Since 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic struck a blow to Pakistan’s economy. The only way to deal with the crisis is to strengthen cooperation in digitalisation at a deeper level and in broader areas, Xulong said, adding: “Since no country can stay immune from the impact of Covid-19.”

Xulong said that digital technology has special edges during the unprecedented pandemic era. “Digital is going to transform you whether you like it or not,” Xulong told China Economic Net, adding that the pandemic was a knockout punch to the global real economy but the digital economy still has room to grow, as it’s pushing everyone to adjust themselves to the digital age faster than ever.

Take telecommunication as an example. Even 4G has not penetrated countrywide in Pakistan now, and there are still some areas that are yet to get 3G/4G service.

Worst of all, the users who have not yet switched to smartphones will keep on using 2G-based phones.

However, the pandemic has provided the telecom sector of Pakistan an opportunity to expand further and to strive to reduce existing digital inequality.

Pakistan’s 3G and 4G user base reached 101.59 million by the end of July 2021, up from 99.85 million at the end of June 2021, marking a 1.74 million increase, according to the figures released by the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA).

By the end of July 2021, Pakistan’s cellular subscriber base had expanded 0.65 million to 184.9 million, up from 184.25 million in June.

“We would like to share our experience in developing digital technology and scientific and technological innovation with Pakistan, but it takes a process,” Xulong said, pointing out that the development of the digital economy cannot be achieved without the development of digital infrastructure.

“China needs to take note of the importance of digital infrastructure when working with countries with weak digital infrastructure such as Pakistan to promote its development of the digital economy,” he added.

Established in 1983, CAFIEC of the Ministry of Commerce of China is a national organisation focusing on conducting activities, engaging in research and organising exchanges in the international economic cooperation and on China companies’ outbound strategies.

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