Huge digital and mobile potential in the Middle East and Africa was a very hot topic that had been discussed so often during the latest Webrazzi Summit 2014. eMarketer’s recent report on mobile usage in the region confirms the growth and promises, estimating the year-on-year increase in the number of mobile users to be around 31%. Total mobile users are expected to grow from 93.3 million in 2013 to over 122.4 million by the end of this year.
Although the rise in overall internet usage cannot catch up with that of the mobile, eMarketer estimates that 336.5 million people in the Middle East and Africa will log in the internet at least once a month in 2014 — 24.5% more than in 2013. Annual growth rates will remain in double digits through 2015, raising the total number of web users to 458 million, or 30% of all MENA residents.
The Ipsos Arabnet Beirut 2014 report by Ipsos MediaCT noted a sharp rise in the use of smartphones in most countries of the region last year. Smartphone penetration grew from 49% of the total population in 2012 to 69% in 2013 Kuwait, while in Lebanon, penetration jumped from 36% to 63%. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates registered penetration rates of at least 72% last year.
“Meanwhile, with respect to more basic mobile phones, MEA is already a star. Only Asia-Pacific has a greater number of mobile phone users.” said the report. eMarketer estimates that 672.6 million people in MEA will have at least one mobile phone this year, and the tally will pass 730 million in 2015.