The Covid-19 caused economic crisis is having an intense impact on the global economy, and businesses are finding ways to navigate through an ever-changing environment and fall in demand. The telecom and IT sectors are among the sectors most impacted. KPMG has released a report “Impact of COVID-19 on Pakistan’s economy”, in which they have discussed different sectors and how they are affected by this contagious disease and what they are doing to come out of the crisis. Impacts of COVID-19 on Telecom and IT Sector is also widespread and the sector is coping with it efficiently.
Talking of the telecom sector in Pakistan, which contributes 3% of total GDP, having 166.47 million subscribers as of the year 2019 with 505 million USD FDI equity inflow in the sector. The key enabler of the telecom sector, DIRBS has not only picked up the local manufacturing but the telecom sector has tremendously improved the import of mobile devices through device identification, registration and blocking system (DIRBS), which has spurred local manufacturing and has minimized grey markets. DIRBS has extended mobile financial services to citizens providing a high quality of services and enhancing overall accessibility.
Impacts of COVID-19 on Telecom and IT Sector
During these frantic times, communication is one thing that is keeping the morals of people up and at the same time is helping government and business to communicate with employees and stakeholders effectively, the stability of telecom sector is critical as more people from this sector are shifting to work from home to maintain social distancing.
It has lead to the surge in demand of internet from workers and students who have shifted to remote working and learning. Furthermore, while more people are at home, the internet is extensively used for entertainment purpose as well, which is evident with the ever-increasing subscribers on Netflix, Youtube and other social media sites. In such circumstances, telecom operators are facing a challenge of coping with an extraordinary amount of user bandwidth during peak hours. PTA reported that internet users have surged by 15% during the lockdown.
While PTA is continuously supporting remotely operating businesses and has allowed all legal mediums of Voice Over Internet Protocols, virtual private networks and video conferencing applications without any connectivity barriers at its end, the government has also taken other measure to curb the spread of COVID-19. It has launched an application COVID 19 GOV PK which is helping users to stay informed regarding the coronavirus cases in the country and the availability of beds and vents nearby. This app also provides necessary information regarding the precautionary measures to prevent this contagious infection.
As far as the employment-based instability is concerned, office-based telecom personals are at the risk of being made redundant due to their non-critical role in the interim upkeep of communication networks. On the other hand, IT sector firms have cited uncertainty, in able to maintain workforce over the next 3-6 months. Both of these factors will lead to a potential wave of sector-wise unemployment.