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Which are the countries going to drive ICT spending in Middle East and Africa in 2020?

(Image credit: Future)
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2019 was a challenging year for the information and communications technology (ICT) spending in the Middle East, Turkey and Africa (Meta) region but the market is expected to grow by 2.3% to $212b.

The total ICT spending fell by 3.1% year on year in 2019 to $207b from $213b a year ago.

Jyoti Lalchandani, vice-president and regional managing director for research firm International Data Corporation (IDC), said that the themes that dominated the region are political uncertainties, weak global demand, limited access to capital, elections in several countries, volatile oil and commodity prices, weaker consumer sentiment, unemployment and lack of skills, and currency fluctuations.

In 2020, he said the ICT spending is expected to be similar to 2016 and 2017 levels.

Looking only at the IT space, the regional market will grow 1.3% to $80b in 2020 compared to $79b in 2019. Telecom sector contributes to more than two-thirds to total ICT spending.

(Image credit: Future)

In the telecom space, the fixed voice market, which has a negative growth of 10.8% in 2019 will see negative growth of 3.5% in 2020 while mobile voice will also degrow by 1.9% in 2020 compared to degrowth of 7.6% in 2019.

From a data perspective, fixed data, which grew 0.7% in 2019, will grow by 6.3% in 2020 while mobile data, which grew 4% in 2019, will grow by 9.1% in 2020.

Top 12 regional markets represent 73% of IT spend while the big four (Saudi Arabia, UAE, Turkey, South Africa) represents over two-thirds of economic activity and over 50% of IT spending.

In 2019, Lalchandani said that devices market, which contributes 51% to the spending, took a big hit while in 2020, he said that the software, IT services and IaaS [infrastructure-as-a-service) will drive growth.

In 2019, PCs and tablets fell by 3.5%, mobile phones fell by 9%, IT peripherals by 4.1%, infrastructure (servers, storage and networks) fell by 0.8% while IT services grew by 3.2% and software by 1.5%.

In 2020, PCs and tablets are expected to fall by 3.1%, mobile phones by 2.2%, IT peripherals by 4.5% while infrastructure (servers, storage and networks) will grow by 2.7%, IT services grew by 6.3% and software by 6%.

 “Whatever happens in these four markets will define much of ICT growth across 2020 and beyond. This year, these four markets are growing in excess of 3%.  In 2020, the fastest-growing four markets are UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Qatar,” Lalchandani said.