The Gulf region’s ICT spending in digital infrastructure is expected to be over $70 billion by 2024, as revealed by the experts at a global forum, citing a recent report by the Middle East Institute. The spending in Saudi Arabia was expected to exceed $37 billion in 2020 and the UAE’s ICT spending is estimated to reach $23 billion by 2024, and Qatar will spend approximately $9 billion.
The global forum, titled ‘The World Economic Forum EDISON Alliance discussion on Boosting Digital Inclusion’ featured a lot of big names like Crescent Enterprises CEO Badr Jafar, Hans Vestberg, Chairman and CEO of Verizon and Chairman of the EDISION Alliance, Ruth Porat, Senior Vice-President and CFO of Google, and Dr Precious Moloi-Motsepe, Co-Founder and CEO of the Motsepe Foundation.
The discussion about Gulf’s ICT digital infrastructure spending was moderated by Quartz Media Editor-in-Chief Katherine Bell, and it was hosted by the EDISON Alliance, a global movement of private and public sector champions that is committed to prioritising digital inclusion for the achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
The global forum also mentioned that around 47 percent of the world population still does not have access to the internet, Badr Jafar, an appointed Champion of the Edison Alliance mentioned that digital inclusion is a means to an end.
He said, “Addressing the global challenges that humanity and our habitat faces is of course the ultimate goal. Technology is a means to that end, and it isn’t the agent of change, either. We, the connected people, are the true agents of change. And history will judge us on whether we really used these tools for the collective betterment of humanity and our planet.
“Today, with trillions of dollars of capital chasing yield in a zero interest rate environment, long-term stable tariff-based investment opportunities, like digital infrastructure, is super compelling. The questions we must address is how can we ensure regulatory and investment frameworks are clear, transparent, and compelling enough to accelerate this investment?”
Jadar also emphasised how important it is to address the digital divide through a business lens, especially since there is a significant digital gap between small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and larger businesses.