By Sidra Tariq
Mobile subscriptions in the Middle East and Africa (Mea) region are expected to grow from 1.2 billion in 2013 to 1.9bn in 2019, according to the Ericsson Mobility Report June 2014 released by the technology company today (Tuesday, June 10).
The report also estimates that smart phones will account for 50 per cent of the Mea region’s handset subscriptions, which will drive data traffic growth. Research firm e-Marketer predicts the number of smart phone users in the region to reach 156.4 million this year, representing a quarter of mobile phone users and approximately 11 per cent of the Mea population.
According to the Ericsson report, the Central Europe, Middle East and Africa (Cemea) region is expected to witness an 11-fold increase in data traffic between 2013 and 2019.
Teemu Salmi, vice president and head of operations for Ericsson in the Middle East and North East Africa region, says: “There is a phenomenal growth in the Mea region as the development of networks, economic growth and opportunities create more connectivity potential in Sub-Saharan Africa in particular, while the uptake of smart devices continues to increase in the Middle East to drive Long-Term Evolution (LTE) figures higher. As cities around the region work progressively towards Smart City status, this will continue to build upon the level of Machine to Machine (M2M) connectivity, transporting MEA’s residents into the Networked Society.”
Dubai is one of the places that has the smart city transformation on its agenda. Earlier this year, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, launched a strategy to transform the emirate into the world’s best ‘smart city.’
The Ericsson report adds that mobile penetration in the Middle East is currently at 107 per cent, with 365m mobile subscriptions. “The Middle East is a market full of early-adoption consumers, who are aware of and keen to own the newest technology,” says Salmi. “This drives smart phone usage and purchasing up, which, in turn, increases data consumption. Operators across [the] Middle East region must be aware of the predicted increase in smart phone use, in order to create sustainable networks that are capable of handling the level of data consumption that we will see in the Networked Society of tomorrow.”