With the technology industry in Europe and North America increasingly saturated with new products and new companies, many technology corporations are turning their attention to emerging markets. Thus far, most of that new focus has been on India and China, due to their massive populations. Technology and related infrastructure in the Middle East and North Africa have been expanding rapidly in recent years, as well.
An increase in demand for electricity has not only caused a boom for domestic investors, but it has attracted foreign ones as well. Like many U.S. companies in this field, General Electric (GE) is looking to take advantage of this development. Pakistan has predicted that energy demand will reach 54,000 megawatts by the end of 2020, and GE has entered into a partnership with the government to help meet that demand. GE will deliver two high-efficiency gas turbines to Pakistan, which will provide enough power to supply six million homes.
The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is also feeling the heat of increased energy needs. Already responsible for the power grid connecting several Gulf countries, it is considering expansion into the rest of the Middle East and North Africa. The GCC could also connect with the European power grid through Turkey or Morocco, enabling energy trade between the two regions. The Middle East would likely import electricity during the summer, when the high heat causes significantly increased energy usage for cooling. During its mild winters, the Middle East would export surplus electricity to Europe.
The Middle East also presents a growing market for mobile technology. More than half of residents have smartphones, and every country save Palestine has a 3G mobile broadband network. Ten countries have 4G networks as well. Local companies are already taking advantage of this trend. In a survey of corporations in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), investment in mobile technology was found to be significantly above the international average of 94 percent. In Saudi Arabia, 97 percent of respondents said their organization was currently experimenting with mobile tech, as well as 100 percent of respondents in the UAE.
The Accenture Technology Vision 2015 report identified five major trends that are predicted to reshape the technology market in coming years. Surprisingly, tech companies in the Middle East already seem to be ahead of the curve.
With this massive expansion in power, mobile devices and workplace technologies, the Middle East is quickly becoming a key player in the global technology market. Local companies are already working with Silicon Valley organizations to develop and localize new tech. If this trend continues, the region could quickly become a new center for innovation.