Qatar leads Arab world in network readiness [Peninsula, The (Qatar)]
(Peninsula, The (Qatar) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) DOHA/KUWAIT: Qatar leads the Arab world in the Network Readiness Index (NRI), which ranks 144 countries on broad criteria to determine the status of their information and communications technology (ICT) sector, Kuwait Financial Centre, 'Markaz' said in a statement yesterday.
The energy-rich economy advanced five places to 23rd in the 2013 rankings as the government's effort to expand its online services and increase online participation of citizens paid rich dividends.
However, the overall level of penetration and use of ICT in the Gulf state is high with the country ranking 16th in the world in this category.
Qatar's ICT sector contributed about QR5.5bn ($1.5bn) to the GDP in 2010, and according to the goals set out in Qatar's vision document, it seeks to double the contribution to QR11bn by 2015, according to Markaz.
Markaz recently published the executive summary of its report on Qatar ICT. It examined the status of Qatar ICT sector and highlighted the growth drivers, opportunities and key challenges for the sector. The report also presents an overview of the key players in the industry and a comparison of the ICT sector in other GCC countries.
Mobile broadband subscriptions in Qatar jumped from 9.6 percent in 2010 to 70.3 percent in 2011. More than 85 percent of the population falls within the 15-64 age group, which indicates a good percentage of working population with high disposable incomes. Increasing government expenditure in infrastructure and youthful demographics has led to Qatar emerging a world leader in ICT penetration and usage.
Driven by government investment and a thriving hydrocarbon sector, Qatar has kept pace with an increasingly digital world by making rapid strides in ICT. The establishment of an independent regulator, the Supreme Council of Information and Communication Technology, ictQATAR, in 2004 was a good move to create a knowledge-based industry that would directly benefit all stakeholders. With the increase of public and private investments, Qatar's telecommunication infrastructure expanded rapidly. ictQATAR initiated 'ConnectQatar' to deploy a core broadband network to facilitate e-Health, e-Education, and e-Enterprise projects, which need considerable investment in ICT infrastructure, and 'Hukoomi', a centralised government portal that aims at pulling all government transactions, information, and services onto a single platform. It is expected that in the coming years, ICT spending in the private sector will increase. Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are expected to invest in IT to boost sales and improve market competitiveness. A survey by Ooredoo in 2012 found that 77 percent of SMEs had plans to increase ICT spending, with an average of 20 percent, and this is expected to drive the fast growth of Qatar's ICT sector over the next four years.
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