No country or region can deny the importance of having a robust telecommunication industry in today’s world. With everything going digital these days, it is difficult to find a region that is not investing in telecommunication infrastructure to meet the rising demand for data and technology.
Everywhere you look, countries are waking up to the realization that a well-developed telecom industry has a positive impact on the economy by helping to ease the flow of information, opening up markets and reducing the cost of doing business. Most countries are increasing their investment in their respective telecom sectors, and nowhere is this more apparent than in the Middle East.
Mixed Basket Of Fortunes
When it comes to telecommunication, the Middle East is a market of contrasts. It has a mix of saturated and emerging markets that present a varied basket of opportunities for both foreign and local investors.
In this region, mature markets such as Kuwait and Saudi Arabia are stable and reliable, posting consistent – albeit minimal – growth every year. There are also emerging markets such as Turkey and Oman, which are growing at a tremendous rate. In fact, both countries have taken huge steps in recent years to boost their respective telecommunications markets by increasing access to fiber networks (for commercial businesses and residents) and expanding their fixed broadband services.
Even countries such as Lebanon and Iran, which had originally been trailing behind others in the region, are slowly starting to catch up. [pullquote]As part of its Telecom Vision 2020, Lebanon is putting more emphasis on building its fiber networks to improve broadband services in the country.[/pullquote] Iran, on the other hand, recently reached a milestone when broadband penetration in the country climbed above 10 percent.
In stark contrast to these more stable and growing markets, other countries in the region, such as Yemen, are experiencing a great deal of market instability owing to continued conflict and civic issues which halt investment opportunities. This adds an element of uncertainty for investors who want to enter the market and secure a solid investment.
If you are looking to invest in the Middle East telecommunication sector, do not let the few unstable countries put you off. Experts like seasoned investor Dr. Ehsan Bayat, the CEO of Telephone Systems International based in Afghanistan, will tell you that opportunities abound for the savvy investor.
Notably, the ICT sector in the region has a lot of potential, especially for those who can introduce new digital technology. The Middle East has a rapidly growing youth population that is hungry for internet and data services thanks to the proliferation of smartphones. Furthermore, there is a large business population that presents investment opportunities in e-commerce and mobile payments. Governments in the region are interested in digitizing education and health services to bring them up to world standards, and they are looking for partners to help with this.
As big players in the industry, including Batelco in Bahrain and Zain in Kuwait, position themselves to take advantage of these investment opportunities, foreign investors are unlikely to be left out.
With the increasing demand for technology and innovation, the Middle East telecommunication market still has plenty of room left for future growth.