Macro Bites

Macro Bite # 83

3 min read
 On Tuesday, the Chairperson of the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority informed the Senate that the government plans on launching 5G in the country by 2023, great news for anyone who has had to patiently wait for someone’s Insta-story to load.
5G is like 4G, but faster (obviously). And if you’re into conspiracy theories, 5G also causes Covid-19 (obviously not true). More to the point, this development is very welcome for Pakistani internet users since our current 4G speeds leave much to be desired. According to SpeedTest, as of January 2022, our average 4G download speed was just 16.6 Mbps. That places us at 102nd in the world. For context, the UAE tops the rankings with download speeds of 136 Mbps. Not that any of you care, you just want to know if we’re ahead of India. We are—India ranks 116th in the world.

In an era of increased digitisation, fast internet is crucial for almost all facets of the economy. 5G can provide a big boost in this regard, as the global average for 5G download speeds is 166 Mbps, compared to the global average of 4G, which is 30 Mbps, a more than five-fold difference. To give just one example of how 5G could be helpful to us, Pakistan is currently the fourth-fastest growing freelance market in the world. According to statistics from the Ministry of Information Technology, Pakistani freelancers exported USD 217 million worth of services in the first half of the Fiscal Year 2021-22, a 17% rise on the year before. With the rolling out of 5G, we can expect this number to grow significantly in the coming years.

WEEKLY DATA WATCH

KSE-100 fell marginally this week, as pessimism rose due to a hike in petrol prices. PKR depreciated slightly this week, due to rising commodity prices in the international market. Local gold prices also fell this week.

The annual change in Sensitive Price Index fell to 18.09% vs. 18.47% last week. The poorest of the country (Q1) were disproportionately affected with a change of 19.40% vs. 18.43% for Q5. On a weekly basis, prices rose for all quintiles by 0.22%.

Increase in prices of Petrol (+8.12), Chicken (+2.89%) and Garlic (+10.5%) contributed to weekly inflation. A fall in the price of Electricty (-5.20%), Eggs (-5.31%) and Chili Powder (-5.41%) helped moderate inflation this week.

What Else We’re Reading (Local)

  • With no money transfer fees and an easy sign-up process, the State Bank’s Raast payment system could potentially be a game-changer for Pakistan. (Profit)
  • Bill Gates visited Pakistan this week, and met with leaders to discuss issues such as Covid-19, polio and the Ehsaas program.  (Business Recorder)

What Else We’re Reading (International)

  • Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund has accumulated USD 1 trillion in assets, as it seeks to hedge its bets in a post-oil future. (Bloomberg)
  • France is withdrawing its troops from Mali, after carrying out military operations for nearly a decade, while achieving little. (WSJ)

Asad Pabani

Journalist, researcher and documentary filmmaker. Prior works featured in Dawn, Soch Videos and Pioneers Post.

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