The Middle East information and communications technology (ICT) market is set to be worth $75bn by 2013, according to a report by telecoms and media consultancy Delta Partners, an increase of 9 per cent since 2009.
Slow deregulation in the region has been holding back the development of the industry, according to the report. Fixed-line markets, in particular, are not yet fully liberalised.
“There is a lack of competition in many of the countries where the incumbent telecom player and regulator have a close relationship,” says Eric Festraets, director of broadband marketing & consulting solutions for Europe, Middle East and North Africa (Emea) at French telecom vendor Alcatel-Lucent.
Regulators play an important role in opening up the industry by promoting competition, helping to determine costs and maintaining suitable prices. “Without this environment, there is uncertainty and investors will not want to invest,” says Festraets.
This has been most visible in fibre-optic rollout, where countries with strong regulators have managed to develop more robust fibre-optic networks, such as the UAE, Qatar and Bahrain. Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Iran have the potential to foster a competitive broadband market, but political and economic setbacks have prevented this so far.
The global ICT market was worth $3 trillion in 2010, it is expected to grow to $4 trillion by 2013.