Real estate market begins slowdown in anticipation of budget, Ramazan

Lahore (PR): As the second quarter of 2015 gets underway, most of the major real estate markets of Pakistan are showing signs of an early start to the hibernation that precedes and marks the entire duration of the holy month of Ramadan. This, however, is not the only reason for a slowdown in the market.
The announcement of the Annual Budget is also at hand. The usual seasonal effects of this holy month might be compounded as real estate stakeholders collectively hold their breath to see what sort of taxes they are going to be looking at in the next fiscal year.
Over the course of April 2015, the major localities of Lahore and Islamabad exhibited reduced activity and a resultant drop in prices across the board, with Sector F-11 the only neighbourhood to exhibit a tangible rise in prices according to Zameen.com’s statistics. The real estate market of Karachi, however, has shown no inclination to slow down. All major localities in the city exhibited decent gains month-on-month with the exception of DHA City Karachi, where a controlled drop was seen in the prices of 1-kanal (500 yard2) plots.
Zameen.com’s search trends tables show that things have remained somewhat constant in terms of popularity. At the start of Q2 2015, DHA was still the leading player in all three cities followed by Bahria Town. Relatively new entrant Gulberg Islamabad retained its position as the fourth-most popular locality for plots in the Federal Capital.
ANALYSIS
Though there were no sharp drops in Lahore and Islamabad, the real estate markets of these two key cities still seem to be easing into a general slowdown that was expected to come a little later in the quarter. The increased taxes levied in last year’s budget had a detrimental effect on market activity in general, coupled with the political instability in the second half of 2014. It is perhaps unsurprising, therefore, that the prospect of the new budget has had an effect this early in Q2 2015.
Karachi’s market seems to be resisting this urge to wind things down at the moment, but numbers from the coming months will likely indicate a similar trend in Pakistan’s largest city as well.
“There are no shocking drops anywhere across the board, and this gradual decline in prices in Islamabad and Lahore is a sign of the seasonality that governs Pakistan’s real estate sector,” said Zeeshan Ali Khan, the CEO of Zameen.com.
“I would be somewhat surprised if Karachi’s market did not follow suit, because the Annual Budget 2015-16 is something all stakeholders are going to watch closely before making any decisions. Last year’s tax hikes proved to be quite challenging and if the government decides to retain these taxes – or increase them – there is unlikely to be much momentum going forward,” he added. “If some of these taxes are rolled back or decreased, however, there could be a flurry of activity after Ramadan.”

Innovation key to solving education conundrum
ISLAMABAD (PR): Ilm Ideas – Pakistan Education Fund supported by the UK’s Department for International Development and managed by DAI - organized a one-day education conference ‘Pakistan Innovation Corridor’ in Islamabad the other day. Pakistan Innovation Corridor was a platform for showcasing transformational work undertaken by a range of Pakistan based education institutions, innovators and activists who have developed effective solutions to create access to quality education, in partnership with Ilm Ideas.
The conference was attended by regional and international education experts who shared their views on global education innovation trends and experiences in tackling education deficits in their respective countries.  The Pakistan Innovation Corridor brought together practitioners, educationists, academics, media and policy makers from within the country and the region to think through the challenges in new ways and learn from global best practices.

The conference compromised of sessions to discuss solutions and approaches for improving education quality, retention and learning outcomes, in addition to workshops and spotlight sessions on specific themes such as evidence based policymaking, social entrepreneurship in education, and innovative education products and services developed by Ilm Ideas partners.
Pakistan ranks 113 out of 120 countries in the Global Education Development Index, to overcome challenges faced by the education sector in Pakistan innovation solutions are required. It also has the second highest out of school children population of which 30% are primary school aged girls, and 64% children are from the poorest households.  Among those who do make it to school, a large proportion of children are at risk of drop-out. Around a quarter of children who reach grade 5 cannot read sentences; 50% of the boys and nearly 60% girls cannot read sentences in Urdu; 62% of the girls cannot do basic division.  
Ms. Zehra Zaidi, Team Leader Ilm Ideas Programme reiterated the  critical need for out of the box solutions for addressing educations deficits in Pakistan, focusing on the need for innovative interventions in crisis hit or conflict affected populations in Pakistan.  Speaking at the conference Ms. Zehra said that “Ilm Ideas under the Education Innovation Fund was successful in piloting and testing of 33 innovative education solutions in Pakistan, which have demonstrated potential to change education outcomes.” She further added“ We must learn from and replicate excellent regional examples of education innovation to improve access to quality education for all Pakistani children.”
Ms. Judith Herbertson, Deputy Head and Head of Basic Services Group, DFID in her closing remarks said “All of the promising work showcased at today’s event shows the immense potential and expertise that Pakistan possesses to address the significant education challenges facing the country – including access to quality education and improving learning outcomes. Ilm ideas has helped create a platform to focus on sustainable and innovative education solutions. In order for these ideas to make a difference to the education system and to children across the country, however, government and other partners will need to embrace new solutions and consider different ways of delivering quality education.”
The conference featured prominent speakers including Dr Rabea Malik and Dr. Faisal Bari from IDEAS, Ameena Saiyad from Oxford University Press, Irfan Muzaffar from Education and Social Research Collective, Adeel Aslam from Education Fund for Sindh, Monazza Aslam, Naeem Zamindar and Hammad Umar from Acumen Fund, Imran Sarwar from Rabtt, Qasim Aslam from The History Project, Faisal Mirza from AmanSports, Maryam Mohiuddin from Social Innovation Lab, Shaheen Atiq – ur – Rehman from Bunyd Literacy Council, Ahsan Jamil from Aman Foundation, Abid Gill, Muzaffar ud Din from BRAC Pakistan, Dr. Aneela Salman from Punjab Education Foundation, Neelam Hussain from Simorgh , Nadine Murtaza from Dheere Bolo, Isfandyar Inayat from The Citizens Foundation, Mehnaz Aziz from Children Global Network-Pakistan, Ashseen Shakoor from Axes Advisory, Yasser Bashir from Arbisoft, Aban Haq from Ilm Ideas and Beala Jamil from ITA.
The event also featured an interactive education marketplace with 25 education service providers showcasing their solutions to a variety of potential clients and public.

Mobilink launches ‘make your mark’ initiative
ISLAMABAD (PR): Mobilink has launched its flagship corporate responsibility initiative. The ‘Make Your Mark’ initiative is a key element of VimpelCom’s corporate responsibility strategy, with the objective of ‘Helping young people shape their future’. ‘Make Your Mark’ recognizes the challenges that today’s young people face regarding issues such as poverty, youth unemployment, inadequate healthcare and education, food security, resource scarcity and climate change – reinforced by a rapidly growing population. It aims to provide young people with technology tools, support and mentoring, and in some cases access to basic education, to help them tackle these challenges at an individual, community and national level – to shape their future.
Under the Make Your Mark umbrella, Mobilink has partnered with LUMS Center of Entrepreneurship, Institute of Social and Policy Sciences, GuarantCo and Pakistan Center for Philanthropy (PCP) and is working on setting up an incubator for budding entrepreneurs, expanding its mLiteracy program to reach out to an additional 3750 rural females and establishing 6 state-of-the-art ICT labs at schools adopted by NGOs.
AnushaRehman, Minister for IT, speaking at the launch said, “The Government of Pakistan is committed towards implementing the latest technology to enable the youth of Pakistan. Make Your make is an encouraging step from Mobilink and will go a long way in supporting the Government’s strategy of enabling the young generation of Pakistan through technological advancements.”
Minister of IT further added: “The government is confident that together with this interest, investment and support of corporate organization we will be able to capitalized the telecommunications infrastructure for socio-economic development of Pakistan”
Jeffrey Hedberg, President & CEO Mobilink, commenting on the launch of Make Your Mark said, “Make Your Mark is a unique initiative that feeds directly into Mobilink’s corporate responsibility strategy and aims at helping young people in Pakistan through technology, expertise and knowledge. The initiatives planned under the program will offer support to a variety of beneficiaries to tackle the socio-economic challenges in Pakistan. The ultimate aim of MYM is enabling a generation of educated and tech-literate young people. We have partnered with three global organizations LUMS, DFID and GuarantCo for Make Your Mark.  I am confident that Make Your Mark will contribute significantly in shaping the future of our youth by equipping them with the latest technology.” He then alsothanked the Minister of IT, AnushaRehman for her valuable time and kind patronage.  
Furthermore, Mobilink has also developed Mobilink Guardian; an android based app working with a young startup Virtual Proz. Mobilink Guardian Service notifies your loved ones of your location. Currently being offered on Android Handsets, the service when trigged uses GSM and GPS to transmit prompter’s location to up to 5 user-listed contacts via customizable SMS alerts. This service can be prompted by simply pressing power button thrice.

Huawei one of Brandz’s ‘top 100 global brands’
LAHORE (PR): Huawei has announced that it has been named one of BrandZ’s ‘Top 100 Global Brands’ for 2015, ranking 70 on the list. Marking Huawei’s debut on the BrandZ list, the achievement follows Huawei’s ranking on Interbrand’s ‘Top 100 Best Global Brands’ list last year.
The BrandZ ‘Top 100 Global Brands’ list is developed by Millward Brown Optimor, a leading global research agency that operates under the world’s largest communications services group, WPP. As one of the most authoritative evaluations of brand influence, the ranking system used for the BrandZ list is the only one which is based on both brand value on the views of both potential and existing brand consumers and financial data.
Ms Doreen Wang, Global Head of BrandZ, said, “Huawei has made it onto a BrandZ list for the first time today. This is the result of Huawei’s solid carrier business and also its active expansion into the enterprise and consumer businesses.

Huawei has invested in its global technology offering, demonstrated with two third of its revenue coming from markets outside of China. Ranking on the BrandZ list recognizes Huawei’s real strengths.”
Huawei’s brand value is estimated to be over USD 15 billion in 2015 and ranks 16th in the technology sector on BrandZ’s list. Ms. Glory Zhang, Chief Marketing Officer, Consumer Business Group (BG), said, “We are thrilled to be included on the BrandZ ‘Top 100 Global Brands’ list for 2015. This proves Huawei has successfully established global brand recognition, which is one of the largest challenges for Chinese corporations when going global. Huawei is committed to focusing on innovation and delivering the expectations of our customers to enhance the end-user experience.”
Huawei follows a globalization strategy that integrates the best resources around the world to serve the global market. Today, it offers a full set of global innovation capabilities and systems. Huawei operates in over 170 countries and regions, with two third of its revenue coming from markets outside of China. Huawei has an R&D presence around the world and invests at least 10% of its annual sales revenue in R&D. It has established 16 research centers in Sweden, Russia, the United States, India, and other countries, and operates 31 joint innovation centers in conjunction with its partners.
Proving the success of Huawei Consumer BG, Huawei ranked as the third largest smartphone manufacturer in 2014 with global shipment reaching 75 million units, marking a 45% year-on-year growth. Huawei’s brand awareness has been largely enhanced with the growing global recognition of its flagships smartphones such as Huawei P8, Huawei Mate7, Honor 6 Plus and Honor 6. According to a research conducted by IPSOS in 32 countries globally, Huawei’s brand awareness increased from 52% to 65% in 2014 representing recognition by two thirds of global consumers. In addition, Huawei’s net promoter score surged to 43%, ranking in the top 3 for smartphone brands, demonstrating the improvement in brand experience for consumers and resulting in more device recommendations than before.
In 2014, 52% of Huawei Consumer BG sales revenue was from overseas markets, the target for 2015 is increased to 60%. Huawei Consumer BG is committed to communicating its brand through sport, which is the perfect common language for global citizens. Huawei connects with consumers through partnerships with football clubs in more than 50 countries and regions, and local sports activities, such as marathons. Huawei has significantly improved the consumer shopping experience through 630 Huawei branded shops, approximately 30,000 retail outlets, and a sales team of approximately 10,000 people worldwide.

‘Intel Compute Stick’

LAHORE (PR): Intel Pakistan has launched the Intel Compute Stick – an Intel® Atom™ powered device capable of transforming any HDMI display or monitor into a fully functional computer – at an event, which provided the opportunity to get hands-on experience with the innovation, which is small enough to fit in the palm of your hand, and receive detailed insights into its features.
Ready to go out the box, the Intel Compute Stick will be available from authorized Intel distributors from Spring 2015. Two versions built on the quad-core Intel® Atom™ processor will be launched in Pakistan providing users the choice of two operating systems: Windows 8.1 and Linux. Both devices come with Wi-Fi*(802.11bgn) and Bluetooth* 4.0 for connectivity, a USB 2.0 port to connect peripherals and a micro SD card slot for additional storage.
Speaking at today’s launch ceremony, Naveed Siraj, Country Manager Intel Pakistan said: “The Intel Compute Stick takes computing to the next level. With its ability to run straight out the box, and from any monitor, the innovative device brings computing to new devices and environments transforming when and how we compute.”