Showing AJK to the World with Chinese Smart Technology
AZAD JAMMA AND KASHMIR, Jul. 8 (Gwadar Pro)- “The vigorous fir and pine trees surround the Neelam valley, stretching their bushy branches which block out the sky and create a huge shade, forming a narrow path wiggling to a far distance. Looking into the distance, the Himalaya Mountain, covered with ice and snow, is majestic and vast; Looking down, the river Jehlum is clean and glittering, dreamy and colorful...” This is the gorgeous view of Kashmir in Waseem’s camera.
Waseem Akram, a 28-year-old sales manager of OPPO Pakistan, relishes driving in the rolling hills and city lights of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK). While traveling, he records the beauty and progress of the region with his camera. It seems hard for any one to imagine that four years ago, he could not even afford a bike.
In 2017, he came to AJK for work as OPPO, a major smartphone brand, opened its first offline store in Kashmir. In the same year, when the Pakistani government promoted the infrastructure of 4G network, the number of smartphone users in Kashmir was merely between 20 and 25 percent, and the majority of phone users were feature phones. However, after the arrival of a Chinese tech company, it was completely changed.
AJK’s smartphone era
Waseem recalled a time when “Kashmiris used to make a two-day round trip to buy a reasonably priced phone. Even worse, there was no place that provided after-sale services. The cost of travel and time was very high, and that of repair was beyond estimation.” He added, “Difficulties abounded in the transportation process. Store-seekers could be easily caught in the rain because of the volatile weather. To transport a large amount of decoration materials to Kashmir was very expensive due to inconvenient transportation and rugged roads. There were no refurbished phone stores in Kashmir either. Thus, we renovated the OPPO store here in compliance with local traditions.”
Local dealers are supportive of OPPO’s decoration. “With their help, we overcame many difficulties, and soon after, we recruited Kashmiri staff to work in wholesale, display, training and marketing. They have a better understanding of the local situation and are well educated, but they lacked job opportunities. OPPO also plays a role in informing the youth about the trends and innovations of the telecommunication industry by organizing seminars in local colleges and universities. With this stable job, the lives of us and our families have improved significantly.” Waseem explained.
One of Waseem’s colleagues, who had lost his job before the arrival of OPPO, was the breadwinner of his family. “OPPO employed him as head of sales for Kotli, and his whole family is now living a better-off life, with every one using smartphones.” Waseem said.
Waseem also witnesses how the locals started enjoying smartphone services after-sale. “If there is any problem with the customer’s phone, the customer can come to the store and we will send the product directly to the service center nearby. Usually in 4 to 5 days, the repaired phone will be returned to the customer.”
So far, OPPO products and services are accessible across Pakistan via 5000+ retail and sales partners, and 17 service centers, among which 103 trusted dealers are in Kashmir. Now, following the footsteps of OPPO in Kashmir, many other brands have entered the market.
Rising AJK youth
Like young people in other places of the world, Kashmiri youth are active users of smartphones and social media platforms. They love to learn about the world through the Internet, record the beautiful moments in their hometown and share them in a wider scope. In this way, many Kashmiri bloggers have become online celebrities and gain wide attention in Pakistan.
In the past, the scale of news report on Kashmir was tipped to the regional conflicts over the daily lives of local people. Now, We-Media is reversing the trend. Thanks to the popularity of smartphones and 4G networks, the new media industry is helping Kashmiris live a better life. The vlogs that went viral have promoted the image of Kashmir, attracting tourists from all over the world.
The Chinese smartphone brand has helped Kashmir usher in the smartphone era, and Kashmiris have also voted in action to express their love and trust. OPPO has organized many activities, such as long-term sponsorship of football and cricket matches in AJK, as well as various online and offline activities to explain the brand culture of this technology company from China. The Kashmiri love for China naturally extends to its high-tech products.
Waseem is most impressed by the modern corporate management model of OPPO: “My boss is a Chinese who highly trusts me and allows me to make decisions in line with OPPO’s culture and value. My team’s goal is to achieve win-win results for both the OPPO company and local customers”.
“Through this job, I not only gained income but also learned how to enter and manage a new market and how to realize my value. The fate of countless youth like me has been changed by smartphones. We will keep contributing to Pakistan’s digital transformation”, he added.