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Uzbekistan Is An Emerging Market For Islamic Finance
AlHuda CIBE holds two-day training workshop on Takaful at Uzbekistan Banking Association

The Two Days Specialized Training Workshop on Takaful organized by AlHuda Centre of Islamic Banking and Economics was successfully concluded at Uzbekistan Banking Association, Uzbekistan on August 5-6, 2019. The purpose of the training was to equip the professionals with Islamic finance knowledge keep focusing on the Islamic Insurance models and operational mechanism. Alongside, the Islamic finance promotion and to strengthen the industry in the region were also the agenda of the training.

The world well know trainer and consultant of Islamic finance, Mr. Muhammad Zubair Mughal conducted the training on the subject. During the training, the concepts, product development of Islamic insurance (Takaful) and product innovation was discussed. Mr. Zubair said that many new Islamic Finance markets are seen to be emerging on the horizon in the world including Commonwealth Independent States (CIS) countries. Uzbekistan is one of the emerging markets aggressively working for Islamic finance promotion and implementation. ICD-IsDB working very closely with various financial institutions for the development of Islamic finance in the region. ICD- IsDB also has huge investment portfolio for Islamic finance avenues in Uzbekistan.

Uzbekistan plans to introduce Islamic finance regulations and set up an Islamic finance institution to expand its banking sector and tap foreign markets. The Govt. of Uzbekistan is also plan to introduce the issuance of different tenure Sukuk (Islamic Bonds) to address the long-term and short-term liquidity and investment requirements of Islamic finance industry. Insurance companies are also working to start Takaful operations to meet the need of the Islamic financial market in the country.

The demand of Islamic banking and finance products is increasing. He is hopeful that the volume of Islamic finance industry will increase by 100% in next five years which also will strengthen global Islamic finance industry. The main reason is the increasing tendency of Russia towards Islamic Banking & Finance; the countries in central Asia are closer to Russia in Banking & Finance despite its having been separated from USSR. The promotion of Islamic finance industry in Uzbekistan will also attract the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the country which will strengthen the economic growth of the country and will reduce the headcounts living under the poverty line.

Uzbekistan total population consist of 32 million inhabitants and 88% of them are Muslims, which is the supportive indicator for the growth of Islamic finance industry. Total 10% of inhabitants are living below the poverty line which would be addressed by the MSME financing. Islamic Microfinance (IsMF) is the most suitable source for MSME financing and need of the time to address poverty elevation from the country especially in rural areas by financially including the target people.

About AlHuda CIBE: AlHuda Center of Islamic Banking and Economics (CIBE) is a well-recognized name in Islamic banking and finance industry for research and provide state-of-the-art Advisory Consultancy and Education through various well-recognized modes viz. Islamic Financial Product Development, Shariah Advisory, Trainings Workshops, and Islamic Microfinance and Takaful Consultancies etc. side by side through our distinguished, generally acceptable and known Publications in Islamic Banking and Finance.

We are dedicated to serving the community as a unique institution, advisory and capacity building for the last twelve years. The prime goal has always been to remain stick to the commitments providing Services not only in UAE/Pakistan but all over the world. We have so far served in more than 35 Countries for the development of Islamic Banking and Finance industry.

72nd Independence Day Celebration

Flag Hoisting and Tree Plantation Ceremony at PNSC

On the eve of 72nd Independence Day celebrations, Flag hoisting ceremony was held at PNSC building

Secretary Maritime Affairs /Chairman PNSC Mr Rizwan Ahmed hoisted the flag. Mr. Ahmed said that this memorable day is a result of sacrifices and endeavors of our forefathers for a separate motherland. “Pakistan got freedom amid an unfavorable situation and weak infrastructure, He added that Quaid e Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah realized the need for the

“Two Nations Theory “and hence moved forward for a separate motherland for the Muslims.

He stated that we have to re assure the struggle of our forefathers and must continue to communicate this fact to our new generation as well. Rizwan Ahmed said PNSC is continuing to serve the nation. He said that more vessels will be inducted in the fleet soon. He also said that all efforts are being made to build up a fleet particularly to cater for the transportation of the country’s strategic cargo.

On the occasion the Minister for Maritime Affairs Mr Syed Ali Zaidi also planted a tree as a part of the plantation drive to make Pakistan an ecofriendly and green state.

Federal Minister for Maritime Affairs , Mr. Ali Zaidi said that India’s barbarism in Kashmir and evil intentions depict rise of another Hitler from the East.

He said that the test of time has proven the merits of the Two Nation Theory. The whole world and future will testify that this theory is the ultimate reality,”

He also stressed the need for ‘blue growth’ and said that we must protect and preserve our coastal and surrounding waters resources and focus on development of our shipping sectors.

Telenor Pakistan gearing up to bring 5g to Pakistan

Taking another stride towards network transformation and digitalisation, Telenor Pakistan and its network partners have geared up to make the network 5G ready to pass on the benefits of this transformative technology to the people of Pakistan in the coming years.

5G is the fifth-generation cellular network technology that offers faster data transfer speeds and enables advanced solutions such as smart homes, smart cities, autonomous driving, automated emergency services, remote medical diagnosis, smart manufacturing, cloud gaming and enhanced content & media experiences to name a few.

The development cements and once again demonstrates Telenor Pakistan’s position as the frontrunner of innovation and digital transformation in the country. Today, the company has the country’s first and only 4.5G network and takes the lead with such industry-first initiatives as IoT, Cloud Services, and overall digital ecosystem development comprising innovative solutions for gaming, entertainment, and 3G/4G devices portfolio, etc.

Telenor Pakistan took the first step towards 5G enablement last year by beginning the evolution of its network core from legacy architecture to state-of-the-art virtualized hybrid core, taking the lead towards 5G readiness. The latest development takes Telenor Pakistan one step closer to successful launch of end-to-end 5G trials to demonstrate the potential of futuristic technologies and solutions for socioeconomic advancement.

“As Pakistan gears up for future technologies that will be integrated into governance, businesses and people’s lives, the role of 5G becomes imperative,” said Irfan Wahab Khan, Chief Executive Officer Telenor Pakistan and Head of Telenor Emerging Asia Cluster, while sharing his thoughts on the development. “With this latest step towards digitalisation and network transformation, Telenor Pakistan is opening up new possibilities for millions of Pakistanis who will be the actual winners in the development. We look forward to continued government support as a digitalisation partner for adequate spectrum allocation for adoption and penetration of 5G over the next few years.”

“Staying devoted to our vision of empowering the people, we have made use of innovative technologies to bring them newer and better opportunities,” said Bilal Kazmi, Chief Marketing Officer, Telenor Pakistan while speaking to the media at Telenor Pakistan Headquarters. “We are happy to further our goals of communications innovation and digitalisation across sectors, which is exactly what this development aims for. We will continue to play our part to leverage technology as the greatest equalizer and enhance the ecosystem that we set out to build years ago through network transformation and expansion, data solutions, content services and introduction of affordable devices.”

Telenor Pakistan, driven by its vision of empowering societies, continues to take groundbreaking initiatives to lead Pakistan towards a digital economy. Connectivity and data being the enablers that empower people, the company believes that connecting people to what matters most to them is truly realized only if it continues to innovate and impact millions of lives.

Telenor Microfinance Bank & Samsung Electronics collaborate for digital disbursements

Telenor Microfinance Bank and Samsung Electronics have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for disbursement of payments to Samsung’s channel partners through the bank’s digital banking service, Easypaisa. The partnership will enable Samsung Electronics to make payments to its retailers using Easypaisa’s reliable and secure network.

Through this efficient disbursement solution, Samsung’s retailers across Pakistan will have instant access to incentive payments which will be sent directly to their Easypaisa mobile wallets and will also bring them the convenience of withdrawing their commissions from over 130,000 Easypaisa locations.

Mr. Irfan Wahab Khan, Chairman Telenor Microfinance Bank, CEO of Telenor Pakistan and Head of Telenor’s Emerging Asia Cluster and Mr. Roy Chang, MD Samsung Pakistan, were present at the signing ceremony held at Telenor Pakistan headquarters along-with senior management from both the companies, including Head of Easypaisa, Telenor Microfinance Bank, Mr. Khurram Malik and Head of Mobile Business Samsung Pakistan & Afghanistan, Mr. Umer Ghumman.

Speaking on the occasion, Chairman Telenor Microfinance Bank, Mr. Irfan Wahab Khan said, “Digitization of the financial landscape in Pakistan has been a key constituent of our mission and with such significant partnerships we are getting closer to achieving our goals. We appreciate Samsung’s efforts to enable its supply chain through Easypaisa’s digital payment solution and welcome this collaboration with the global electronics giant.”

Also speaking on the occasion, Managing Director of Samsung Pakistan, Mr. Roy said, “We are excited to partner with Telenor to use Easypaisa’s reliable and secure payment network to remit payment to our channel partners while offering them easy access and flexibility.”

NBP partners with WorldRemit for digital money transfers to Pakistan

– Using the WorldRemit app or website, Pakistanis living in over 50 countries can now send money directly from their smartphones to 1,500+ new cash pickup locations in Pakistan

Leading digital money transfer service WorldRemit and National Bank of Pakistan have launched safe, fast and low-cost international transfers to 1,500+ National Bank Pakistan (NBP) cash pickup locations and designated branches of Pakistan Post Office.

The Pakistani diaspora living in over 50 countries, including the USA, UK, Canada and Australia, can now send money to NBP cash pickup locations using their smartphone. WorldRemit is also offering its customers zero fees for transfers (terms and conditions apply) to Pakistan.

WorldRemit is a global leader in online money transfers. WorldRemit saves customers time and money as they do not have to pay expensive fees at a money transfer agent to send money home. Over 90% of the company’s transfers are authorized within 10 minutes.

National Bank Pakistan, a leading government owned bank in Pakistan, is committed to extending access to financial services to all income groups. National Bank of Pakistan is also the front line for SBP’s National Financial Inclusion strategy promoting financial inclusion to the unbanked. The Bank recently launched special credit schemes for SME businesses across various industries, and is offering Qarz-e-Hasna loans to students.

Pakistan has the sixth largest diaspora population in the world, with approximately 7.6 million Pakistanis living abroad. According to the World Bank, Pakistan received over $20 billion in remittances in 2018, representing almost 7% of the country’s GDP.

Mr. Arif Usmani, President National Bank of Pakistan, comments: “Remittances play a vital role in the economy of Pakistan. It is the single largest source of foreign exchange for the country. The current government is specially focused on home remittances as well as on issues being faced by overseas Pakistanis. In line with the Government’s vision, we at National Bank of Pakistan are also playing a role in facilitating the overseas Pakistani’s across the globe in contributing towards the development of the country. We take the remittance business as our national duty.”

“National Bank of Pakistan has the most penetrative branch network in Pakistan and with the recent collaboration with Pakistan Post Offices, we will soon have the Largest Network for Remittance Payments in Pakistan. National Bank of Pakistan also holds the trust of millions of customers and has the largest customer base (account holders) among all the Pakistani Banks.

The collaboration between NBP and WorldRemit will not only be beneficial for both the institutions but will help us to facilitate the Pakistanis living abroad in sending their remittances to their loved ones in Pakistan more conveniently; and will also help improving our country’s economy by earning the much needed foreign exchange in line with the vision of the government and Prime Minister of Pakistan.”

Hamza Islam, Country Director for Pakistan at WorldRemit, comments: “National Bank Pakistan is a natural partner for WorldRemit, as we both look to extend access to remittances through formal and safe channels.

“WorldRemit is constantly looking for new ways to make it convenient for Pakistanis living at home and abroad to send and receive money. With this new partnership, we are delighted to extend our footprint across Pakistan, so that Pakistanis can receive money conveniently at over 8,200 cash pickup locations and into 14.5 million mobile wallets.”

Secretary of the MOE’s Petroleum division impressed with Byco’s management, facilities

The Petroleum Division Secretary, Ministry of Energy, Mian Asad Hayaud Din, visited Byco’s refinery and Single Point Mooring last week. He was briefed on Byco’s operations and received an in-depth briefing on the operations of its floating port, the Single Point Mooring. The Secretary was received by Byco’s Vice President of Operations, Mr. Rashid Badruddin. The Secretary stated upon the conclusion of his visit to Byco: “I am thoroughly impressed with Byco’s management and facilities.”

Mr. Fayaz Ahmad Khan, Byco’s Vice President of Commercial, said on the occasion: “It is a great honour for Byco to receive the Secretary of the MoE’s Petroleum Division at our refinery. Byco is Pakistan’s largest oil refining company, and has nearly 400 retail outlets across the country. Byco is the only vertically integrated petroleum firm in Pakistan. Our SPM is one-of-its-kind in the nation and Byco satisfies a significant fraction of Pakistan’s petroleum demand single-handedly. We welcome the Ministry of Energy and look forward to working together to grow Pakistan’s economy”.

About Byco: Byco Petroleum Pakistan Limited (BPPL) is one of Pakistan’s leading energy firms, engaged in the businesses of oil refining, petroleum marketing, and petroleum logistics. Byco’s mission is to meet the nation’s energy. The Company manufactures a wide range of petroleum products with a vision to achieve sustainable productivity and profitability while upholding high environmental, health and safety standards.

Byco is Pakistan’s largest oil refiner by design capacity, and is the nation’s only firm having a dedicated Single Point Mooring (SPM) .Byco’s SPM is the only floating liquid port in the country, and the company employs a round-the-clock crew dedicated for the safety and security of the buoy and vessels in and around the SPM’s anchorage area. The SPM is Pakistan’s only terminal having a Tier 3 oil spill response membership.

Byco refines crude oil into various marketable components including Liquefied Petroleum Gas, Light Naphtha, Heavy Naphtha, High Octane Blending Component, Motor Gasoline, Kerosene, Jet Fuels, High Speed Diesel and Furnace Oil. Byco is proud to have the largest capacity crude oil storage tanks in the country. Byco’s marketing network supports retail outlets in more than 80 cities all over Pakistan and is an emerging player in Pakistan’s oil marketing sector. Byco’s diverse and highly skilled workforce consists of approximately 900 dedicated employees across the firm’s divisions.

MCB Bank continues strong fiscal performance with 14pc growth in profit before tax for six months

– Maintains industry’s highest quarterly payout of Rs. 4/share

The Board of Directors of MCB Bank Limited met under the Chairmanship of Mian Mohammad Mansha, on August 07, 2019 to review the performance of the Bank and approve the condensed interim financial statements for the six months ended June 30, 2019.

The Board of Directors has declared 2nd interim cash dividend of Rs. 4.0 per share i.e. 40% bringing the total cash dividend for the year ending 2019 to 80%, continuing with its highest dividend payout trend.

MCB reported profit before tax of Rs 18.25 billion which is 14% higher than the corresponding last period and translated into earnings per share of Rs. 9.01 (2018: Rs 8.24). This was achieved through continuous improvement in the operating efficiencies along with improving margins based on strategic positioning of the asset book.

Profit after tax (PAT) of the Bank increased by 9% to Rs. 10.68 billion as the bank recorded super tax @ 4% for the tax year 2018, as enacted through the Second Supplementary Act, 2019; resultantly, effective tax rate for the six months ended June 30, 2019 is reported at 42% which is 3% higher than the corresponding last period.

These are an encouraging set of results, particularly in the context of heightened economic concerns in Pakistan. The Bank remained focused on executing its outlined strategy while being alert to risks in the economy.

Net interest income increased to Rs. 27.80 billion, 23% higher than corresponding last period. Volumetric growth in average earning assets, particularly advances, along with effective mix of shorter maturity earning assets in a rising interest rate scenario enabled the Bank to post a higher gross mark-up income by Rs. 21.42 billion, up 57% over corresponding last period. In-spite of volumetric growth in deposits with re-pricing upon each policy rate change, gross mark-up expense growth curtailed to Rs.16.237 billion.

The non-markup income block of the Bank was reported at Rs. 7.9 billion with major contributions coming in from fee commission and foreign exchange income. Fees and commissions generated from core banking businesses increased by 4% to Rs. 5.6 billion. Foreign exchange income increased by 47% to Rs. 1.7 billion as a result of better leveraging of market opportunities.

Notwithstanding significant inflationary pressures (June-19 YoY CPI of 8.9%), overall administrative expenses increased by only 7% over corresponding last period excluding pension fund cost. Variance includes the cost charged against the deposit protection premium amounting to Rs. 576 million, which was applicable from July 01, 2018; excluding the impact of deposit protection premium, the increase in operating cost was only 3.3%.

As one of the key strengths of MCB Bank, the Bank continued with its NPL recovery trajectory, thereby reversing provision against advances by Rs. 701 million in the first six months of 2019. The coverage and gross NPLs to advances ratio improved to 89.14% and 8.64% respectively.

Total asset base of the Bank on unconsolidated basis was reported at Rs. 1.57 trillion showing an increase of 5% over December 2018. Analysis of the assets mix highlights that net investments have increased by Rs. 44.1 billion (+6%) whereas advances have increased by Rs. 10.6 billion over December 31, 2018.

The Bank remained ahead of the industry on the domestic deposits front, increasing its share to 7.65% from 7.57% as of December 2018. The deposit base of the Bank has registered a healthy increase of Rs. 99.6 billion and stood at Rs. 1,148.6 billion, a growth of 9% over December 2018. Focusing on its low cost deposit base, the Bank was able to increase current deposits at the rate of 9% over December 2018, which reflects the customer confidence and the inherent value of a strong brand name.

The Bank on a consolidated basis is operating the 2nd largest network of 1,554 branches in Pakistan. This includes 177 Islamic Banking branches of its wholly owned Islamic Banking subsidiary. The Bank remains one of the prime stocks traded in the Pakistani equity market with highest market capitalization in the industry. The profitability and payout returns of the Bank are one of the highest in the industry.

The Bank remains well capitalized with the Capital Adequacy Ratio at 17.48% against the requirement of 11.90% (including capital conservation buffer of 1.90%). Quality of the capital is evident from Bank’s Common Equity Tier-1 (CET1) to total risk weighted assets ratio which comes to 15.48% against the requirement of 6.00%. Bank’s capitalization also resulted in a leverage ratio of 6.89% which is well above the regulatory limit of 3.0%. The Bank reported Liquidity Coverage Ratio (LCR) of 192.66% and Net Stable Funding Ratio (NSFR) of 137.19% against requirement of 100%.

The Bank enjoys highest local credit ratings of AAA / A1+ categories for long term and short term respectively, based on PACRA notification dated June 27, 2019.

K-Electric laments rain-related deaths and hassle, will keep working to meet challenging situations

K-Electric is a law-abiding and responsible organization. The power utility is extending full cooperation in investigation process and will also submit report to regulatory authority in due course.

Here KE would also like to mention that the unprecedented rains and urban flooding in Karachi had severely disrupted civic amenities and services and caused a number of incidents. The management and employees of K-Electric are deeply grieved over these unfortunate incidents and extend deepest sympathies to the affected families.

With almost 36 hours of relentless and continuous downpour, the city witnessed close to 150mm rain, which is the highest in five years, creating unprecedented circumstances of urban flooding around power infrastructure in low lying areas, causing power outages and damage to infrastructure. KE regrets the inconvenience caused to its customers as a result.

The flooding was so intense that Karachi’s M9 motorway was shut down and hundreds of people from adjoining districts including dozens of villages were forced to relocate to higher ground. Overflow of the Lath Dam nearly caused a key KE installation to be shutdown, while also blocking Super Highway for hours.

It is critical to mention that per various studies; a large portion of Karachi is unplanned and includes encroachments in different areas. These slums and encroachments are infested with kundas, and despite multiple drives to remove these illegal power connections and report encroachments to law enforcement agencies, the illegal hooks are reconnected creating a potential safety hazard especially during rains.

KE also took precautionary measures including preventive maintenance, network-wide inspections of the power infrastructure and strengthened vigilance of on-ground teams. As a safety precaution, electricity supply was also suspended to areas which are highly prone to such incidents. However, joint effort from all concerned stakeholders in Karachi is critical to eliminate hazards created by encroachments and waterlogging near power infrastructure and to ensure right of way for all utility services while enforcing basic urban development protocols in a planned manner.

KE is also approaching local administration, provincial and federal government bodies for coordinated efforts to cope with the challenges KE encounters in the provision of safe electricity during and after rain.

The power utility has consistently highlighted the hazards posed by kunda connections and how these hazards are magnified during the rain, through public safety campaigns through print and electronic media as well as via Twitter and Facebook. These messages are also conveyed as part of consumer bills and sent through SMS. While KE ensures compliance to respective safety protocols and procedures, it also appeals to the public for their own safety to maintain distance from power infrastructure including power lines, transformers, grids, substations, streetlights and poles especially during rain. Special attention must be paid to children who should be cautioned from playing near electricity installations.

KE has been playing a pivotal role towards creating greater inter-agency coordination for improved summer and monsoon preparedness in Karachi with wider stakeholders such as National Disaster Management Authority, Provincial Disaster Management Authority, Rangers, Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Center and various NGOs and has called for a collective role of civic and government bodies as well as the citizens of Karachi to cope with the challenges facing the city.

UK-Funded Karandaaz to promote sustainable energy and economic development

A UK commitment to provide financing for renewable energy and energy efficiency to Pakistan’s industrial Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) sector has been signed by the Department for International Development (DFID).

As part of DFID’s Sustainable Energy and Economic Development (SEED) programme, Karandaaz will invest over £15 million to promote renewable energy generation and efficiency measures in Pakistani businesses. The SEED programme will work with firms, businesses, and financial institutions to demonstrate the financial viability of enhancing investments in clean energy and energy efficiency improvements.

The agreement was signed between Joanna Reid, Head of DFID Pakistan and Ali Sarfraz, CEO Karandaaz Pakistan. Karandaaz Board of Director’s Chairperson, Dr Shamshad Akhtar was also present at the occasion.

Speaking at the occasion, Joanna Reid, Head of DFID Pakistan said, “Less than 4% of Pakistan’s electricity is generated from renewable sources. We are working to change that. I believe that this investment in sustainable energy will go a long way in promoting energy-efficient and environment-friendly options for businesses, and at the same time help to generate more jobs and achieve greater prosperity.”

Speaking at the occasion, Dr Shamshad Akhtar, Chairperson Karandaaz said, “Economic and urban development is a national priority for Pakistan. With 39% of the population residing in cities, Pakistan is not only the most urbanised, but also the fastest urbanizing country in South Asia. Pakistani cities’ contribution to its GDP growth however, is much lower than in peer countries. It has been estimated by the IFC that as much as 11%-14% of the energy utilised in Pakistan could be saved through energy conservation and efficiency measures, which is equivalent to two hours of power supply each day. This grant from DFID will help bridge the financing gap and enable the emergence of sustainable and efficient energy for Pakistan’s private sector, resulting in more vibrant and economically friendly cities, more competitive businesses and more jobs all leading to Pakistan moving closer to its targets as set under SDGs.”

Speaking at the occasion, Ali Sarfraz, CEO Karandaaz said, “Karandaaz is proud to have established itself in a short span of time as a trusted partner of DFID to implement this additional focused financing programme for sustainable energy and energy efficiency in Pakistan. We will work closely with multilateral partners to pave the way for increased investments in the sustainable energy sector. This will also promote low carbon growth.

According to a latest World Bank study, more than 75% of Pakistani firms cite energy provision as a major constraint to growth. Where available, electricity provision is costly and inefficient, lowering competitiveness of industry and services. Daily load shedding and large leakages in the distribution system mean manufacturing firms cite access to electricity amongst the top obstacles to growth

Climate and environment are a global priority for DFID. Domestically and internationally, the UK has been leading the way on climate change. This programme is also an opportunity for Pakistan to draw on UK expertise in clean energy for greener growth.

According to Global Competitiveness Report, energy shortage has directly impeded Pakistan’s ability to compete in international markets for Pakistan’s export sector. Widespread use of renewable energy and energy efficiency is yet to kick off. 17% of the energy utilised in Pakistan could be saved through energy conservation and efficiency measures, which according to some estimates is equivalent to two hours of power supply each day.

A market assessment conducted by the IFC in 2014 found that potential savings range from 11%-14%. The same assessment estimated the demand for renewable energy investment across six industrial sectors at $2.2 billion. Incentives for firms and residences to switch to renewables have been initiated, but these have so far proven ineffective and the use of energy from renewable sources, excluding hydropower, is still under 4% of total energy generation as estimated by Hydrocarbon Development Institute of Pakistan.

Jazz sees intensified revenue growth of 20.5pc

Jazz, Pakistan’s leading digital communications company, has announced its financial results for the second quarter of 2019. The company has recorded unprecedented total revenue growth of 20.5% year on year.

In addition to an aggressive digital growth focus from the leadership, several factors have contributed to this solid growth. Jazz’s service revenue increase has been predominately driven by the rise in the number of data customers in this quarter. More and more people are choosing Jazz to connect and every third Pakistani is a Jazz customer. The doubled data usage has generated a 58.8% data revenue growth.

Additionally, the subscriber base of JazzCash 30-day active wallet has increased to 5.7 million. This has led to a surge in the financial services revenue by 36%. Overall, this represents a sequential increase of 7.7% from the first quarter of 2019 and totals a revenue of PKR 1.9 billion. This comes at a time when global shifts and macroeconomic policies have largely challenged the private sector.

The quarterly financial report also showed that the customer base has increased by 7.2% year on year. The quarter on quarter customer trend reflects Jazz’s commercial strategy to focus on high-value customers to further improve new sales customer mix, leveraging on network quality of service. At the end of quarter two of 2019, Jazz’s data services are available to more than 50% of the country’s population with data coverage in more than 225 cities.

This half-year performance is particularly impressive for VEON Ltd, Jazz’s parent company. Owing to the rising population in Pakistan, the demand for top-quality cellular services is an important aspect of urban lifestyle. Economic experts term phone connectivity and data particularly as an essential enabler and not a luxury.

These results come at a significant milestone of the company’s 25th anniversary. This serves as a testament to the Jazz’s market leadership and robust technical advantage. With its service focus on remote and under-served communities, Jazz has prioritized the goal to empower all Pakistanis, while also maintaining an impressive performance on the business front.

Jazz is Pakistan’s largest digital telecommunication company. Serving over 59 million subscribers across the country.

i2i Ventures opens $15m fund and announces first investment in Pakistan

i2i Ventures, an early-stage investment fund with a focus on Pakistan-based technology enabled companies, is announcing the launch of a new $15 million fund and their first investment in Pakistani startup Mauqa Online. i2i Ventures builds on the experience of Invest2Innovate, an accelerator which has worked in the startup ecosystem in Pakistan since 2011, and operates with a similar vision, to unleash the potential of innovative entrepreneurs in frontier markets.

Co-founded by Pakistani-American social entrepreneur, Kalsoom Lakhani and fintech and impact investing professional, Misbah Naqvi, i2i Ventures is the first female-founded institutional fund to invest exclusively in Pakistani entrepreneurs. i2i Ventures sets out to challenge the traditional power dynamics of a fund, taking an impact and gender-lens approach to investing and allowing for its portfolio founders to have as much power at the negotiating table as the investor.

“As the 5th largest market in the world, with a young population, a rising consumer class and increasing smartphone penetration, Pakistan presents tremendous investment opportunities,” said Kalsoom Lakhani, Co-founder and Partner of i2i Ventures and the Founder/CEO of Invest2Innovate. “Having operated in the region and industry for more than 8 years, it’s clear that the market is ripe for a founder-focused fund like i2i Ventures, where shared goals, trust and open communication are deeply embedded into the investment strategy.”

i2i Ventures takes a smart investing approach, engaging with early-stage founders and their teams to help build ventures positioned for scale. “We have seen many startups in this market struggle with scale as they haven’t had the right partners and investors at the outset,” said Misbah Naqvi, Co-Founder and Managing Partner of i2i Ventures. “We are committed to investing in Pakistani tech entrepreneurs at the seed level and supporting them as they grow their business and raise funding for post-seed and Series A rounds.”

As its first investment, i2i Ventures is leading a six-figure (USD) seed round in Mauqa Online, an Islamabad-based startup providing an on-demand digital platform for domestic services. Other investors in the round include UAE-based Karavan Partners. Mauqa Online is co-founded by husband-wife duo, Muhammad Mustafa and Suniya Saadullah who are passionate about leveraging technology to create long-lasting social impact in Pakistan.

“Mauqa is focused on building a high-growth business that’s also providing our community of domestic-helpers with the opportunity to improve their quality of life. We are fortunate to have had Kalsoom as a mentor and we’re excited to have the financial support of a values driven fund like i2i Ventures, which will help us scale our business across Pakistan and engage additional partners.” said Suniya Sadullah Khan, co-founder of Mauqa Online.

Lakhani said of the investment, “We are excited to make our first investment in Mauqa Online, a business with tremendous market potential, an innovative business approach and incredibly dynamic co-founders, Suniya and Mustafa. We look forward to supporting them as they expand their offering throughout Pakistan.”

The first phase of the fund is supported by the The Dutch Good Growth Fund “Investment Fund Local SMEs” (DGGF), a Dutch government fund-of-funds supporting frontier markets such as South Sudan, Nepal and Afghanistan. i2i Ventures is also supported by high net-worth individuals from across the United States, East Asia and the Middle East.

“Since 2011, i2i has been a vital force in driving the Pakistani start-up ecosystem through their acceleration activities. Their move to investing comes as a natural and much-needed initiative to address a persistent lack of funding for early-stage ventures. We are proud to be supporting the team with seed capital to launch this initiative.” said Davide Loriggiola, Investment Manager Seed Capital of the DGGF.

“We are grateful for DGGF’s support from the very start of our journey and we look forward to learning from them and their partners’ experience in similar frontier markets,” said Misbah Naqvi, Co-Founder and Managing Partner of i2i Ventures.

Delta Air Lines appoints air transport activities as general sales agent in Pakistan

Delta Air Lines has appointed Air Transport Activities (Pvt) Ltd, part of the Avari Group, as its General Sales Agent (GSA) to strengthen the airline’s sales and marketing presence in Pakistan. As part of the new agreement, Air Transport Activities will open dedicated Delta-branded sales offices in three cities – Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi – making it easier for customers to book travel on Delta and its partners between Pakistan and the United States.

Air Transport Activities will exclusively represent Delta in Pakistan through proactive sales activities including reservations and ticketing, as well as marketing initiatives to promote the airline in the country. Delta’s Pakistan sales operations will be overseen by Sofia Arif, General Manager Passenger Sales and Marketing.

“Expanding Delta’s sales presence in Pakistan with three sales offices will facilitate business and leisure travel between Pakistan and the US, with convenient options via London, Paris and Amsterdam,” said Jimmy Eichelgruen, Director Middle East, Africa and India Sales. “As Delta continues to offer more ways to connect the world, we look forward to working with Air Transport Activities to help us grow in the market and welcome more customers from Pakistan on board.”

Children’s literature festival takes off with a bang

Day 1 of the two-day programme of 60th Children’s Literature Festival CLF culminated at Arts Council, with children and adults participating with great gusto in all the sessions.

All locations of the venue being used for the festival had been renamed by CLF to commemorate authors, literati, artists, citizens, noble prize winners and grand geographies of Pakistan like Shah Abdul Latif Bithai Auditorium, Sohail Rana open air theatre, Hakim Said ki Baithak, Anita Ghulam Ali Auditorium, Fahmida Riaz ki Baithak, Dr Hamida Khuhro ki Baithak, Sadequain Gali, Bab-e-Hingol, Abdus Salam labs, Jamshed Nusserwanjee Mehta Courtyard, and Burnes Road.

The festival opened with multiple sessions taking place simultaneously leaving one hard put to decide which one to attend and which to leave. One could even see people hopping from one to another in a bid to attend as many as possible within the same time slot.

The first day saw Bhittai Auditorium packed with kids interested in theatre, where from a theatre workshop conducted by Atif Badar to string puppetry by Thespianz Theatre, play by Tehrik-e-Niswan to dramatic readings by Zambeel, to music and poetry, took place at different time slots.

Sohail Rana Auditorium witnessed an open mic session for students under an expert panel followed by Sing Along with Khaled Anam, while a musical concert by young qawwals glued attendees to their seats. The inaugural programme also took place here as well, with Syed Sardar Ali Shah, Minister Education and Literacy Education, Culture, Tourism and Antiquities as the chief guest. Among recitations, performances and speeches were special CLF Outstanding Service Awards presented to Resource Persons and Institutions that have supported CLF since 2011. Also in the same auditorium there were film screening and talks by Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy and Shehrbano Saiyid.

The room titled Hakim Said ki Baithak had sessions through the day varying from storytelling, theatre workshops, discussions on children’s history of Sindh by Rumana Husain in conversation with Tom Moore, to talks on books and innovative approaches to learning.

Anita Ghulam Ali Auditorium had book launches, a play, panel discussions and talks on Karachi’s Heritage Buildings by architect Mukhtar Husain.

In Fahmida Riaz ki Baithak OUP had a morning session on the great poet after whom the room was named and her contribution to children’s literature after which there was full-day activity on the art of bookmaking.

Dr Hamida Khuhro ki Baithak had various sessions on storytelling, emotional and mental health by Arsalan Larik, interactive fun games for children, a young authors forum, a session on reading improvement programme and one on creating awareness about the welfare of donkeys.

The full day programme comprised sessions at Sadequain Gali which was divided into learning spaces where through the day on-going activities took place including arts and crafts workshops, theme games, photo both and exhibition on children’s book illustrations.

Bab-e-Hingol featured a sand and 3-D art performative interactive display through the day while Abdus Salam Labs featured various digital activities. To highlight the creative side of our young generation, Jamshed Nusserwanjee Mehta Courtyard featured on-going activities like clay modelling, digital 3D activities, pop-up learning, documentary and hands-on activities on Makli, mental health camp, learning and reading corner.

CLF’s sponsors included Oxford University Press (OUP), British Council, Telenor, Allied Bank, UNESCO, Italian Agency For Development Cooperation and National Foods. The festival attended by media, parents, teachers and students of various institutions was a huge success and the participants benefited greatly from it.

It may be noted that CLF is the largest learning festival for children and teachers in Pakistan enabling children to learn with all their multiple senses and intelligences. Managed by Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi (ITA), it has a nationwide footprint having completed 59 CLFs (in all four provincial capitals and Islamabad and over 25 districts of the country, reaching over 1.4 million children and teachers since its inception in November 2011.

ALHUDA CIBE successfully organized training on Islamic Finance in Tajikistan

The two-day Specialized Training Workshop on Islamic Banking, Takaful & Islamic Microfinance organized by AlHuda Centre of Islamic Banking and Economics was successfully concluded at AMFOT, Tajikistan under the “CIS Islamic Banking and Finance Road Show” on August 1-2, 2019.

The purpose of the training was to promote, strengthen and unite the organizations for Islamic Finance and Microfinance. Besides the promotion of Islamic Banking and Finance, the purpose of the road show is also to acknowledge the need of giving hype to the system beyond any political and religious refrains. Specialized training workshops on various relevant topics will also strengthen the level of knowledge of industry professional which will help the awareness among general public of the nations.

The participants from National (Central) Bank of Tajikistan, Sohibkor Bank, Amonat Bank, CJSC MDO ‘HUMO”, Alif Sarmoya, Micro Credit Fund ‘IMON’, CJSC MDO ‘HUMO”, LLC “Farovon-1” and Crowe ACG LLC attended the training.

The world well know trainer and consultant of Islamic finance, Mr. Muhammad Zubair Mughal conducted the training. During the training, the concepts, product development and product innovation of Islamic finance was discussed.

Mr. Zubair said that many new Islamic finance markets are seen to be emerging on the horizon in the world including Commonwealth Independent States (CIS) countries. He said that Islamic banking and finance industry initiative was taken very late in Commonwealth Independent States (CIS) countries but its growth indicate that CIS countries are the emerging Islamic banking and finance markets. The most important factor of the growth of Islamic banking and finance industry in CIS countries is the Islamic Development Bank’s support whereas, ICD-IsDB also has huge investment portfolio for Islamic banking and Islamic leasing avenues in CIS.

The demand of Islamic banking and finance products is increasing. He is hopeful that the volume of Islamic finance industry will increase by 100% in next five years which also will strengthen global Islamic finance industry. The main reason is the increasing tendency of Russia towards Islamic Banking & Finance; the countries in Central Asia are closer to Russia in Banking & Finance despite its having been separated from USSR.

The National Bank of Tajikistan is aggressively working on Islamic banking and finance framework for the development and the promotion of Islamic finance industry. The Bank is very supportive to implement the Islamic finance initiatives in the country by regulating the Islamic finance laws. The population of Tajikistan is around nine (9) million and 99% of population is Muslim. This indicator is supportive for the growth of Islamic finance industry.

Byco wins 16th annual environment excellence award 2019

Byco Petroleum Pakistan Limited has won the Environment Excellence Award at the 16th Annual Environment Excellence Awards held at a local hotel in Karachi. The Chief Guest at the occasion was Chief Secretary Sindh Mr. Mumtaz Ali Shah, presented the Environment Excellence award to Mr. Mudassir Qadeer, GM Petroleum Marketing at Byco.

The National Forum for Environment & Health visited Byco’s supported Urban Forest and other facilities and reviewed the company’s environment and health practices and procedures. After their assessment and thorough examination, Byco was chosen as a special winner of this award for meeting local and international standards of Environment Protection and Health Practices. Byco’s deployment and support of Urban Forest also was cited as a key factor in Byco’s winning of the Environment Excellence Award.

Mr. Azfar Saeed Baig, Byco’s Vice President, AHR, said on the occasion: “This award is a testament to Byco placing the highest priority on Environment and Health at all our facilities. We are proud to have won this award. Byco is compliant with all relevant national and international environment and health protocols and procedures at all of our installations across Pakistan.”

About Byco: Byco Petroleum Pakistan Limited (BPPL) is one of Pakistan’s leading energy firms, engaged in the businesses of oil refining, petroleum marketing, and petroleum logistics. Byco’s mission is to meet the nation’s energy needs in Pakistan and beyond. The Company manufactures a wide range of petroleum products with a vision to achieve sustainable productivity and profitability while upholding high environmental, health and safety standards.

Byco is Pakistan’s largest oil refiner by design capacity, and is the nation’s only firm having a dedicated Single Point Mooring (SPM). Byco’s SPM is the only floating liquid port in the country, and the company employs a round-the-clock crew dedicated for the safety and security of the buoy and vessels in and around the SPM’s anchorage area. The SPM is Pakistan’s only terminal having a Tier 3 oil spill response membership.

Byco refines crude oil into various marketable components including Liquefied Petroleum Gas, Light Naphtha, Heavy Naphtha, High Octane Blending Component, Motor Gasoline, Kerosene, Jet Fuels, High Speed Diesel and Furnace Oil. Byco is proud to have the largest capacity crude oil storage tanks in the country. Byco’s marketing network supports retail outlets in more than 80 cities all over Pakistan and is an emerging player in Pakistan’s oil marketing sector. Byco’s diverse and highly skilled workforce consists of approximately 900 dedicated employees across the firm’s divisions.

British Deputy High Commission partners with Standard Chartered Bank to celebrate Pakistan’s 72nd Independence Day

An event to celebrate 72 years of Pakistan’s Independence was organised by the British Deputy High Commission, Karachi in partnership with Standard Chartered Bank, British Council and AzCorp Entertainment. Standard Chartered invited 50 girls between the ages of 11-15 years from schools of underserved communities which they support through their Goal programme.

AZCorp Entertainment organised interactive sessions aimed at raising awareness for social causes using creative mediums and British Council representatives gave the girls a tour of the library, all the while encouraging the love for reading and its importance in character building.

The purpose of the celebrations was to provide entertaining sessions embedded with civics and social justice themes. This was done through thought-provoking stories, that prompt dialogue, instill critical thinking, evoke social consciousness to compel positive action from the children.

British Deputy High Commissioner and Trade Director for Pakistan, Mike Nithavrianakis, said: “I am delighted to see the creative work being done in Pakistan to enhance education and values in children from a young age. The commitment of corporates like Standard Chartered and AzCorp Entertainment in supporting education, especially of girls, is impressive, and I am proud that the UK government is part of these initiatives.”

Commenting on the community engagement at the event, Shazad Dada CEO, Standard Chartered Pakistan said: “We are delighted to partner with British Deputy High Commission for the sixth year now. This year we have invited our Goal girls to be part of this celebration. Goal is the Bank’s flagship sport-for-development programme that provides financial education and life skills training to girls aged between 15 and 24. I am confident that today’s session will initiate a thought which will enable them to structure their ideas on how they can be the catalyst for social change in the future.”

Berger Paints attains ACCA Pakistan’s approved employer status

Berger Paints has become the most recent addition to the ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) Approved Employer Programme. With this partnership both the organisations will work together for promoting business ethics, professionalism and developing talent for the future. This milestone also reflects company’s commitment to tax compliance and transparency, as well as improvements in its governance and vision.

Berger paints will now gain access to the future-ready finance talent with the right blend of skills developed by ACCA to cater to the businesses’ need to thrive in a digital world. It will also enjoy exclusive access to specialised services and knowledge through ACCA’s various products, specifically customised for approved employers in Pakistan.

Talking on the occasion, Sajjeed Aslam – Head of ACCA Pakistan said: “Staying relevant to the market is very important in an economy like Pakistan. ACCA believes in continuous development and it would support Berger capacity building of its employees through professional insights.”

Abdul Wahid Quershi – CFO Berger Paints, mentioned the need for the government to streamline its policies to facilitate production by creating an equal playing field for big and small manufacturers. Berger also believes that its success lies in its commitment towards its human resource. Building capacity and preparing our team for the future is a key to any organization’s success.

ACCA is the global body for professional accountants, and aims to offer business-relevant, first-choice qualifications to people of application, ability and ambition around the world, who seek a rewarding career in accountancy, finance and management. The ACCA Approved Employer programme recognises and rewards employers’ quality staff training and development. The programme ensures the highest standards for employers and students are met and maintained.

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