October 18, 2016

Mobile Industry Delivering Economic Growth, Employment and Public Funding in the MENA Region

The previous post on this blog made reference to a 2015 report produced by GSMA Intelligence that provided an analysis of the mobile industry in the Arab States. On Oct. 17, 2016, the London, England-based organization announced the publication of The Mobile Economy: Middle East and North Africa 2016 at the GSMA Mobile 360 Series – Middle East conference in Dubai. In its press release, the GSMA says "that there are 339 million unique mobile subscribers (Q2 2016) across the region's twenty five markets, a figure expected to rise to 385 million by 2020."

The report further explains: "The number of smartphone connections has also more than doubled over the last three years to reach 263 million in Q2 2016, accounting for 42 per cent of total connections, and is forecast to reach 467 million by 2020. The availability of mobile broadband networks has increased smartphone adoption and is helping to bridge the digital divide and usher in innovative new mobile services." The availability of mobile broadband networks in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region provides an opportunity for companies like ROI3 to develop localized content for smartphone users.

On the topic of mobile delivering economic growth, the GSMA 2016 report notes that "mobile technologies and services generated 4% of GDP in the MENA region, a contribution that amounted to more than $150 billion of economic value. In the period to 2020 this will increase to almost $200 billion (4.2% of GDP) as countries benefit from the improvements in productivity and efficiency brought about by increased take-up of mobile services."

GSMA Intelligence
Moreover, "The mobile ecosystem also supported more than 1 million jobs in 2015. This includes workers directly employed in the ecosystem and jobs indirectly supported by the economic activity generated by the sector. In addition to the mobile sector's impact on the economy and labor market, it also makes a substantial contribution to the funding of the public sector, with $15 billion raised in 2015 in the form of general taxation."

Over the past several years, I have witnessed the power mobile connectivity has played in Asia's emerging economies. Therefore, it is with great interest to read that "mobile has emerged as the platform of choice for creating, distributing and consuming innovative digital solutions and services in MENA. Many local and global innovators and tech entrepreneurs are now using the expansion of the mobile ecosystem and the growing adoption of smart devices in the region to deliver mobile-based solutions that directly appeal to local interests and cultures."

My colleagues and I recognize that the successful creation and deployment of localized mobile software solutions in the MENA region will be based on establishing strong collaborative relationships with local developers, marketers, and channel partners.

What advice do you have about doing business in the MENA region?

Aaron Rose is an advisor to talented entrepreneurs and co-founder of great companies. He also serves as the editor of Solutions for a Sustainable World.

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