Friday, May 24, 2024

Jazz invests PKR 37b to support growing data demand, strengthen digital ecosystem

Avg Monthly Mobile Data Usage per Subscriber Increases by 165% in Pakistan: Surging from 3.3GB in 2019 to 8.75GB in 2024

Despite a challenging macroeconomic environment, Jazz, Pakistan's leading digital operator, invested PKR 37 billion in 2023, aimed at supporting Pakistan’s growing data demand and strengthening the digital ecosystem in key areas including fintech, cloud services, and data analytics, bringing its overall investment in Pakistan to $10.6 billion.

The digital operator witnessed a remarkable 20 percent year-on-year (YoY) growth in revenues in the local currency; however, Jazz's revenue declined by 12.9 percent in USD terms during the financial year 2023 primarily due to the devaluation of the Pakistani Rupee (PKR). Additionally, margins felt the impact of an unprecedented surge in business costs, amid record high interest rates and a substantial rise in network energy costs.

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The majority of its capital expenditure during the year was directed towards adding nearly 1,000 new 4G sites, showcasing the company's commitment to ensuring a consistent improvement in service quality for its customers. This network expansion played a pivotal role in increasing Jazz's 4G customer base to 43.9 million, while its overall subscriber base reached 70.6 million, as of Dec 2023. Moreover, with over 22 million Voice over LTE (VoLTE) daily active customers, Jazz has emerged as the largest VoLTE network in the region. On the other hand, JazzFi allows customers to talk and text over a Wi-Fi connection, even when cellular coverage is limited or unavailable, attracting over 3 million users within months of its launch.

The performance of Jazz's digital services during the quarter solidified its position as the country's leading digital operator. Boasting a customer base of 44 million with a 30% representation of women, Pakistan’s leading fintech JazzCash achieved an 82% YoY revenue surge driven by a Gross Transaction Value of PKR 5.8 trillion during 2023. JazzCash’s extensive network, comprising 240,000 agents and over 300,000 merchants, facilitated considerable digitalization of society and payment/loan services, effectively transforming Pakistan’s financial landscape.

Similarly, Pakistan’s leading entertainment platform Tamasha reached 11 million MAUs in 2023. It garnered the highest digital views in Pakistan for major sporting events like the Asia Cup, Cricket World Cup, etc. during 2023. It also emerged as the second most searched tech term on Google in Pakistan and ranked as the number 1 app across all categories on Google Play throughout the tenure of the ICC World Cup 2023. In tandem, Jazz’s cloud platform, Garaj, also saw considerable growth in 2023, enabling over 100 enterprises with cutting-edge cloud and cybersecurity solutions.

Jazz CEO Aamir Ibrahim commented, “Under our digital operator strategy, we are pursuing a holistic approach that involves: expanding the outreach and capacity of our 4G network, especially in semi-urban and rural areas, with consistent investment; strengthening our digital services portfolio to serve as our customers’ digital lifestyle partner with platforms like ROX and Tamasha; driving financial inclusion with Pakistan’s leading fintech JazzCash; and bolstering our cloud, cybersecurity and AdTech offerings through platforms like Garaj and Quantica. The growing engagement levels on our platforms, and the fact that nearly one-third of the industry-wide 4G subscriptions in the last 2 years were contributed by Jazz, validate our customer-centric operating model."

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He further commented that, while the company continues to invest in expanding the reach and capacity of its 4G network and driving the digital ecosystem, the financial health of the telecom industry is severely impacted due to an alarming surge in business costs, largely stemming from the wrong policy of pegging telecom spectrum prices to the US dollar. He stressed the need for a prompt resolution of the policy linking the telecom license fee to the US dollar to protect the sector’s sustainability and ensure the provision of essential digital connectivity for Pakistan’s progress.

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Mazhar Ali Raza
Mazhar Ali Raza
Mazhar Ali Raza is a senior journalist from Karachi. He has served more than twenty years in journalism. He was recently associated with the dunya media group as a senior business reporter from the last eleven years . Prior to that he has worked for CNBC for the period of four years. His major beats were the energy auto banking and agriculture sector . He has covered many seminars and exhibitions in Pakistan and abroad as well .

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