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Mena mobile market 'set to stagnate'

Dubai, December 22, 2011

The historic growth levels of the Mena mobile market are unlikely to continue as most countries in the region are nearing maturity,  says a new report.

However, the region’s fixed line market is expected to show high levels of growth as operators make increased investments in Fibre-to-the-home (FTTH), said  the Frost & Sullivan report on Middle East and North Africa information and communication technologies market..

The UAE is expected to be the first country in the world to have 100 per cent broadband internet penetration through FTTH technology, it said.

Frost & Sullivan observes that in order to fully realize growth potential, it is essential that market liberalisation efforts are continued. While there has been significant progress in this regard such as the launch of triple play licenses in Egypt, the UAE issuing Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) licenses, Qtel tie-up with Skype to offer VoIP services in designated countries with local presence there are instances in which improvements have to be made.

Most notable in this regard is the example of Lebanon, one of the few countries in the world where there is absolutely no privatisation of telecommunications services. With economic growth seemingly back on track, 2012 should be a year in which telcos within the Mena region can reinstate their growing trends.

Frost & Sullivan expects the market to continue to feature as one of the most dynamic and fast growing telecommunications sector in the world.

The mobile market in Saudi Arabia is reaching saturation with a mobile penetration rate of 186 per cent in 2011, the report said.

The total numbers of mobile subscribers in the kingdom were nearly 54 million, from 51 million in 2010, said the Frost & Sullivan report on Middle East and North Africa information and communication technologies market.

The report estimated that the subscriber base will increase to 71.9 million by 2017 at a Compound Annual Growth Rate of 4.9 per cent with the penetration likely to reach 221.7 per cent.

Revenue growth rate in the Saudi Arabian market has been declining due to falling Average Rate per User (ARPU) and increasing mobile subscriber penetration rate and is expected to be at 2.4 per cent in 2016 at a CAGR of 4.2 per cent, it said.

A key element in the strategy of the UAE Government has been to get the legal framework right. The UAE telecommunication market has grown from $8.2 billion in 2005 to $13.6 billion in 2011, achieving a 20 per cent annual growth rate. Much of this has been due to the new legal framework with Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) issuing several regulations to foster advancements in the ICT sector.

The UAE continues to have two operators, Etisalat and du. Each operator offers fixed line, mobile and internet services though Etisalat remains the much larger provider of fixed line and Internet services. The mobile penetration rate is over 200 per cent and is likely to reach 250 per cent by the year 2015 and 270 per cent by 2017.

Together, the operators have over 10 million subscribers. Since the market is already mature and saturated, Frost & Sullivan estimates unsteady growth in mobile subscribers, with subscriber base expected to increase at a CAGR of 3.7 per cent to reach 15.67 million by 2017.

Bahrain is the smallest market in the Middle East by population size but it is also one of the most competitive.

It was one of the foremost to liberalise its market and have a well-established regulatory authority. Bahrain has a 188 per cent mobile penetration rate and over 1.6 million subscribers.

The Qatar telecommunications market has witnessed tremendous growth; largely driven by sustained progress in the mobile market and recent expansion of access to high-speed broadband Internet services. The market totaled $1.7 billion at the end of 2010 and was largely dominated by the mobile segment, which made up two-thirds of the total telecommunications services market.

The mobile industry has witnessed a period of rapid growth with subscriber penetration expected to reach 210 per cent by 2015, up from 160 per cent in 2011.

The mobile subscriber base in Egypt has been growing steadily year-on-year. The total number of mobile subscribers in Egypt as of 2011 stood at nearly 74 million recording a year-on-year increase of 20-30 per cent.

Frost & Sullivan estimates that the subscriber base will increase to 97.3 million by 2017 at a CAGR of 4.7 per cent. As of 2011, the mobile penetration had reached to over 93 per cent and is anticipated to reach more than 113 per cent by 2017. - TradeArabia News Service




Tags: Mobile | Mena | Telecom | ICT | Frost & Sullivan |

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