Qatar a Converging Internet Adopter

by · May 3, 2011

Global Information Technology Report 2010-2011… ok my eyes just glazed over too, and when I first cracked open the report I expected to be asleep by page 5, but I must admit there are some really interesting chapters in it. Beyond the impressive news that Qatar is now the 25th most networked nation in the world, there were also chapters that addressed growing digital communities, localization, fiber networks and socialization 2.0 – all in a readable format!

One of the most interesting reads was the chapter titled “The Emerging Internet Economy: Looking a Decade Ahead.” Written by Enrique Rueda-Sabater and John Garrity from Cisco Systems, the chapter proposes the concept of an indicator called the “Internet economy.” The authors view this indicator as essentially a proxy for the purchasing power in the hands of people using the Internet. As Internet penetration continues to rise worldwide, its power and influence will continue to grow, and so too will the power of Internet users and the countries that have the most.

The Internet economy to date has been dominated by developed countries that were the first adopters of the Internet. However, latest trends show that developing countries with their emerging markets could account for 50% of the global Internet economy by 2020. In 2000, emerging markets accounted for only 6% of the Internet economy, and today they account for nearly 30%. Quite the rapid upward trajectory!

Qatar is described as a “converging adopter” nation, one that does not have an intensive level of Internet usage yet, but where Internet and broadband adoption are quickly accelerating. This seems to be a fairly accurate depiction of Qatar’s present state. We are seeing rapidly increasing broadband penetration (currently 70% of households have broadband), but not many of the more advanced services and applications we see in other nations, such a true e-commerce.

There is no doubt that Qatar and the rest of the Arab region are part of the group of nations that will see their Internet economy influence increase. But the authors also caution that the future is still quite uncertain for these countries. While the potential is there for incredible influence and even the surpassing of some of the developed nations, it will take significant political and policy efforts to realize this potential. One such challenge/opportunity highlighted in the report is the fact that in emerging nations Internet adoption is outpacing PC use. This is of course because of the different devices and means that make Internet accessible to people, such as mobile. It is an interesting challenge though for policymakers and businesses as they try to be competitive in the Internet economy with users that are not accessing the Internet in “traditional” ways.

In concluding the chapter, the authors say “When we look back from 2020 or 2025 we will see major difference between the emerging countries that took advantage of the opportunity of broadband networks to escalate their competitiveness and prosperity and those that failed to do so. Those differences will not be related to starting positions or relative wealth – they will be due instead to decisive implementation of strategic plans and to inspired public-private partnerships that support the widespread adoption of network technology.”

In Qatar, there is clearly a commitment from the government to promote the adoption of network technology and the plans to build the Qatar National Broadband Network also show a commitment to build the best network possible. I think Qatar is one of the countries that people will look back on in 2020 or 2025 and say “they got it right.” Get ready for the Internet economy!

The full Global Information Technology Report can be downloaded on the World Economic Forum website.

Post By Brian Wesolowski (137 Posts)

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Discussion1 Comment

  1. Qitcom says:

    A very interesting post indeed, highlighting the technological potential of Qatar. A recent study shows that Qatar has a 33.95% Facebook penetration, one of the highest penetrations in the Arab world. Furthermore, with Qitcom coming right up, it seems that Qatar will soon be the leader in the technological performance in the Arab world *Finger Crossed*

    Thank you, great blog – just added your feed 🙂

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