The Himalayan Times, Sujan Dhungana, March 25 2017
With the increase in demand, the import of mobile phones in the country has been rising rapidly. Government statistics show that Nepal imported more than nine million mobile sets (9,070,310) in less than one year (April 13 last year to March 23 this year).
The telecommunication sector regulator in the country — Nepal Telecommunications Authority (NTA) — had made it mandatory for traders to register the International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) number of imported mobile phones at NTA from April 14. Following the enforcement of this provision, traders have registered IMEI numbers of 9,070,310 handsets of different brands, informed Min Prasad Aryal, spokesperson for NTA. The latest government statistics of imported mobile sets also means that Nepal is currently importing an average of almost 25,000 sets of mobile phones on a daily basis.
NTA had made it mandatory for mobile phone importers to register the IMEI number of mobile sets with an aim to control the grey market of mobile phones in the market and also to make handsets that have not been imported through the legal channel inoperable.
Entrepreneurs in the mobile phone business say that mobile phones these days have not only become financially accessible, they have also become an integral part of every Nepali.
“An individual in Nepal today cannot think of a day without their mobile phone. Besides voice communication, today mobile phones are used also for internet browsing and the number of internet users in Nepal is increasing every day,” said Amit Agrawal, general secretary of Mobile Phone Importers’ Association (MPIA).
Moreover, the Management Information System (MIS) Report, 2016, made public by NTA shows that mobile subscriptions have outnumbered the country’s population at 105.5 per cent. However, penetration is calculated on the basis of number of SIM cards that telecom operators in the country have circulated in the market where there are high chances that an individual can have more than one SIM of a single telecom operator. Similarly, internet penetration in the country, as per NTA, has exceeded the country’s population as of today.
Along with different mobile phones, especially smartphones, being launched with new technologies and specifications, Nepali people often try to catch up with those features and replace their old sets, Agrawal said. “It is due to the diversified usage of mobile sets that the sales of mobile phones is increasing in Nepal,” added Agrawal.
As per MPIA, the mobile phone market in Nepal has been growing by 50 per cent annually since the last few years. According to Agrawal, the domestic mobile phone market had annual turnover of Rs 25 billion in the last fiscal year. However, he predicted that the growth rate this year would rest at 25 per cent to 30 per cent due to the credit crunch in the market. “We still believe that mobile phone market will have a turnover of around Rs 30 billion this year,” he said.