The GSMA has released a pair of reports that detail the ways in which mobile and IoT technologies have been a boon for countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). The two reports – The Mobile Economy: Middle East and North Africa 2019 and Realising the potential of IoT in MENA – were released during this week’s GSMA Mobile 360 – MENA event in Dubai.
In the reports, the GSMA notes that mobile technologies and services accounted for roughly 4.5 percent of the MENA region’s collective GDP, contributing $191 billion to the area’s economy. That number is expected to climb to $220 billion by 2023 as 5G and IoT tech becomes more widespread. Commercial 5G networks are already up and running in five Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states, under the oversight of 12 different mobile operators.
The trend is similar for IoT technology. The number of IoT connections in the MENA region is growing at the second fastest rate internationally (trailing only the Asia-Pacific region), and will jump from 470 million to 1.1 billion between 2019 and 2025. Those connections will have added $18 billion to the region’s GDP by the end of that window.
The GSMA credited strong government support for the region’s enthusiastic adoption of 5G and IoT innovations, especially in GCC member nations. It also argued that a standardized ecosystem would encourage future advances. For instance, the GSMA recently helped establish a Regulatory Pilot Space to promote development in ASEAN countries.
“To fully embrace [5G and IoT] benefits, the [MENA] region’s governments must support regulatory frameworks and policies that ensure 5G flourishes, including making sufficient spectrum available,” said GSMA Director General Mats Granryd.
Previous GSMA reports have demonstrated how mobile technology has fueled economic growth in countries like Pakistan and Tanzania. The organization has similarly chronicled China’s highly anticipated 5G expansion.