The pace of Internet growth has slowed in recent years in developing countries

The Middle East can add $380 billion to regional economic output by bringing the whole region online, while a fully connected world population will help boost global economic output by$6.7 trillion, a new study revealed.

In the Middle East, more are than 200 million people still  remain unconnected while across the world there are some 4.1 billion people or 56 per cent of the world population who are not connected to the Internet, the study by  Strategy&, formerly Booz & Company, said. The study was done on behalf of Facebook.

“In an environment of low commodity prices and regional instability, the Middle East is changing how it achieves sustainable economic growth,” said the study.

Innovation and digitization will play as important a role in the future with government spending. “This is because the Internet is a major driver of growth, and creator of new, high value jobs around the world, which makes digital inclusion a powerful tool for development and poverty reduction,” it said.

The pace of Internet growth has slowed in recent years in developing countries, leaving billions of people disconnected from the modern economy. To achieve universal Internet access will require the removal of significant barriers in the markets serving the Internet according to the study “Connecting the world: Ten mechanisms for global inclusion.” “The centrality of the Internet to the 21st century economy means that enabling universal access is a fundamental development challenge of our era. These global and regional solutions can help bring the whole of the Middle East online because of the interconnected nature of the Internet,” said Bahjat El-Darwiche, a co-author of the Strategy& study.

“Internet access is a fundamental challenge of our time. The Internet’s truly revolutionary potential will only be unleashed when the remaining 56 per cent of the world’s population is also connected,” said Rawia Abdel Samad, the director of the Ideation Centre, a think tank for Strategy& in the Middle East.

The study argued that bringing the whole world online would create huge benefits for developing countries and for businesses across industries over the coming five years. The benefits include additional global economic output of $6.7 trillion, social and economic improvement for over four billion people, $400 billion growth opportunity for telecom operators, and $200 billion opportunity for content providers.

The study also describes how the Internet will change as more people from developing markets gain access to online resources. “With global Internet inclusion, there could be five Internet users in developing markets for every user in developed markets, compared to

the current ratio of two to one. These new users will seek more content related to work, economic opportunity, and social needs. Data hungry content, such as entertainment will likely be downloaded from Wi-Fi hotspots or through other technologies and consumed offline,” said the report.

“The reasons for going online will tilt towards productivity, micro enterprise, and education, and there will be growth in e-commerce that sources from and sells to the poorest consumers,” said Jad El Mir, a co-author of the Strategy& study and a manager with Strategy&.

One of the key findings of the study, which encompassed 120 countries over a 10-year period, is that Internet growth can be encouraged by solving structural challenges in the three key markets that enable the Internet. These include the market for connectivity, the market for content, and the retail market.

The study said reaching the world’s remotest and poorest inhabitants will require using innovative and disruptive technologies. “Energizing these three markets can remove the existing barriers to Internet adoption and reignite Internet growth in the developing world.

“We need to find new approaches in the markets for connectivity, content, and retail if we are to harness the power of the Internet for development and poverty reduction,” said Andrew Bocking, Product Manager for at Facebook.


Issac John/Dubai ; Khaleej Times ; May 27, 2016