Pakistan News

Mobilink to invest $1bn over five years

Mobilink to invest $1bn over five years

ISLAMABAD: Mobilink parent company VimpelCom has said it will invest $1 billion in Pakistan over the next five years, creating 5,000 jobs.

“We are excited about business prospects in Pakistan. Mobilink has become the fastest-growing business and the largest subsidiary of VimpelCom,” its CEO Jean-Yves Charlier told a press conference here on Wednesday.

A global provider of telecommunication services, VimpelCom owns mobile companies in 14 countries, including Mobilink in Pakistan.

Mr Charlier, who is on a two-day visit to Pakistan, also met Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and other government officials to share his company’s plans after the Mobilink-Warid merger, the first in Pakistan’s telecoms industry.

He also appreciated Pakistan’s “pro-business stance, stability in the country and significant qualified workforce”.

The government saw the benefits of the Mobilink-Warid merger and came up with positive public private initiatives, he said, adding that combining the strengths of the two companies has created a win-win situation.

“Customers, the government and the company — all will benefit from this merger,” he said.

Reminding that Pakistan was one of the most populated countries, Mr Charlier said its young population “is just waiting to open up by utilising new digital services”.

VimpelCom was investing significantly in its own information technology (IT) to provide new digital services in the areas of entertainment, such as music and video sharing, and mobile financial services for customers and businesses, he elaborated.

“The future of Mobilink-Warid lies in many dimensions. The ambition is to build the best and widest network offering most advanced 3G [third-generation] and 4G services, the VimpelCom CEO said. “The idea is not to increase prices but to become digital operator offering new services.”

Mobilink now has 50 million subscribers as compared to 38m before the merger. The company has already invested $5bn in Pakistan. VimpelCom has also entered into a $1bn agreement with Ericsson to upgrade its IT services.

Responding to a question about heavy taxes on mobile-phone services in Pakistan, Mr Charlier said the telecoms industry was the second-highest taxpaying sector in Pakistan. “It’s good to pay taxes. It shows that the company is making profits. The government can use that money to invest elsewhere in the country for development. All we ask for is a fair tax base,” he said.

Published in Dawn, July 14th, 2016

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