ISLAMABAD - The telecom operators in the country have invested a significant amount of $287.6 million during first six months of previous fiscal year 2016-17.

The main driver behind this investment was cellular mobile sector which has invested $262 million during the period. Official sources on Friday said through enabling policies of Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunications, the sector has not only witnessed steady growth but also contributed to national exchequer in term of revenues.

The total tele-density reached 72.36 percent at end of March-2017 as compared to 70.81 per cent at end of last fiscal year. The prime driver of increase of tele-density was growth in cellular mobile subscribers. The sources said in terms of overall investment in telecom sector, the momentum that was started in 2014 for upgradation of telecom networks for 3G and 4G services has continued.

The reported Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) inflow in ICT sector (IT & Telecom) for the period July 2016 to March 2017 was $55 million. Meanwhile, as per statistics, mobile phone imports in the country have witnessed increase during 2016 as compared to same period of previous year. Total imports of mobile phone stood at $573.282 million while they were $539.581 million in the same period last year.

The import bill for mobile phones is likely to grow as smart phone adoption in Pakistan is flourishing due to expanding 3G and 4G networks. More affordable smartphones are now available in the market.

According to the Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication, Pakistan spends around $600 million each year on import of mobile phones.

As a policy priority, Ministry of IT is engaged with international telephone manufacturing companies to establish local manufacturing/assembling units through Public-Private Partnership or otherwise. Chinese mobile manufacturers and their Pakistani importers have shown their interest in establishment of manufacturing/assembling units in Pakistan.