GSMA published its first in-depth assessment of the impact of the mobile industry on the Arab States, highlighting the explosive growth of mobile services in the region. Based on research from Deloitte, the GSMA Arab States Mobile Observatory details a 32% average annual growth in mobile connections over the past 10 years, soaring from 19 million connections in 2002 to 391 million in 2012.
However, the report also identifies fundamental challenges that put the continued growth of the sector at risk, including limited spectrum availability, high taxation and stifling regulation.
The rapid pace of mobile adoption has delivered substantial economic benefits for the region, contributing $132 billion to the economies of the Arab States, or approximately 5.5% of total GDP, in 2011.
In addition, the mobile industry has contributed to employment in the region, helping create more than 1.2 million jobs in 2011. This figure is a combination of direct employment by mobile operators, jobs across the mobile ecosystem and the multiplier effect caused by the positive business impact of the mobile ecosystem on wider industries. What’s more, if additional harmonized spectrum were allocated to mobile broadband, 5.9 million additional jobs could be created by 2025, according to the study.
Mobile broadband connections across the Arab States are expected to increase by a staggering 255% by 2017, rising from 40 million in 2011 to 142 million. Already, mobile broadband connections have outstripped fixed-line connections by over 350%.
However, to extend mobile penetration and capacity, as well as reap the associated economic benefits, governments in the region urgently need to deliver adequate spectrum, including the Digital Dividend, 2.6GHz and 1.8GHz bands.
Finally, the study points out the urgent need for governments to revise mobile taxation and regulatory regimes across the region… You can get the full report from here.