In a clear indication of Qatar fast emerging as a “technology hub”, the local information, communication and technology market grew in excess of QR7.64bn last year with more ICT firms seeking investments in the country.
Revenues for mobile services alone totalled QR1.1bn last year, the Supreme Council of Information and Communication Technology (ictQATAR) said in its 2010 report released yesterday.
Over the past five years, investment in the ICT market by the public and private sectors rapidly increased, it said.
Qatar is set to invest QR6.2bn in the next five years as part of its “strategic ICT plan”. This includes QR4.3bn of capital expenditure and QR1.9bn of operational expenditure, ictQATAR said.
Qatar’s telecommunications infrastructure has swiftly expanded and evolved, the report said. The continued growth of next-generation access networks with ultra-fast connectivity has made services and technology more prolific and reliable.
Investment in a new high-powered communications satellite, along with a growing network of submarine cables, will further increase bandwidth and speed.
“Market liberalisation has already yielded tremendous benefits to consumers and businesses. With increased competition, prices for mobile and fixed services have dropped, but with more people using services, total revenues for the sector grew precipitously, increasing by QR50mn in one year up to 2010,” ictQATAR said.
The report said the government had also been an effective market driver of ICT usage and adoption.
Qatar is ranked third in the world for ICT government readiness, according to the World Economic Forum’s Global Information Technology Report 2009-10.
Through the enhanced sophistication and growth of many government services, especially Hukoomi, Qatar’s national e-government portal, ictQATAR has worked to foster a technology-friendly environment for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
ICT adoption by all sectors of society has increased, the report said.
In her introductory letter in the 2010 ictQATAR Annual Report, ictQATAR secretary general Dr Hessa al-Jaber said: “For ictQATAR, the past year brought not only significant growth but also tremendous maturity in all realms of the ICT market. Our numerous efforts to spur economic growth and competition, enhance public services and enrich society for all reached significant milestones.
“Everyone in Qatar should feel greatly empowered by the progress we have made. I am confident we are well on our way to even more incredible advancements.”
Market research commissioned by ictQATAR revealed the following:
lIn 2010, 89% of Qatar’s households had a computer, compared with 71% in 2008; 85% of individuals had a computer in 2010 compared with 54% in
lBroadband usage jumped from 41% of households in 2008 to 70% in 2010
lAmong government employees, more than 90% received computer skills and text-processing training last year
lSixty per cent of all businesses in Qatar are connected to the Internet, and 58% have broadband connections
lClose to half (49%) of all public and private hospitals use electronic storage for patient data.
The market and users have become more sophisticated, according to the ictQATAR report . As more companies learn how to leverage technological applications to streamline their operations, Qatar’s IT software market is growing faster than any other in the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC).
Overall, 1.8mn mobile handsets were purchased in Qatar in 2010 with 30% in the smartphone category, costing QR728 ($200) or more.
Qatar’s mobile penetration has also increased to 150% in 2010, up from 120% in 2009. Since 2001, there has been a 12-fold increase in Internet subscribers, according to the report.
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