Region ‘yet to fully exploit ICT prospects’
Manama, August 3, 2011
While countries in the Mena region have a substantial opportunity to drive economic growth by developing a vibrant and innovative technology sector, they have not yet fully capitalised on this opportunity, said a report.
'Mena countries enjoy the gains in efficiency that come from using products and services within the information and communications technology (ICT) sector, yet to date they remain consumers and net importers of technology,' the report by global management consultants Booz & Company said.
'Over time, economies with a robust ICT sector enjoy a substantial competitive advantage - they become more innovative across all sectors of their economies, and thus better prepared to face the challenges of the 21st century,' it said.
'To strengthen their ICT sectors and foster innovation, governments in the Mena region must act on a number of core elements,' the report added.
'Countries need to identify key focus areas, establish innovation-friendly policies and regulations, make funding more widely available, improve ICT infrastructure and develop the local talent pool,' the report said.
'These elements are interconnected and will require a holistic approach, implemented in conjunction with private sector ICT players. The end result will be a stronger innovation environment not only for the ICT sector, but also for the national economy,' it added.
'Innovation within the ICT sector can lead to innovation in other sectors of a national economy and thus make it more competitive,' said Booz & Company partner Bahjat El Darwiche.
'Countries in the region have an opportunity to develop a strong innovation culture for their ICT sectors by fostering technology start-ups and creating business-friendly policies and regulations in such areas as patent filings, and devoting a larger percentage of their gross domestic product to research and development.”
'For the Mena region, key focus areas with strong local potential include Arabic and Islamic services and applications, IT services and smart devices for the energy and utilities sectors, e-education and e-health systems that support the massive build-up of related sectors in the GCC, and devices and systems for urban and infrastructure management to complement the development of several multibillion-dollar economic cities,' added El Darwiche.
'These regulations are a factor in virtually all industries throughout the region, but they are especially critical in ICT, in which ideas drive success,' said partner Ramez Shehadi.
'Companies will reap little reward for developing an innovative software suite if they can't protect it in the market,' he added. – TradeArabia News Service
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