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Arab Region Internet & Telecom Summit Muscat, Oman, 28 – 30 May 2001 Overview of Internet in Arab States Abdulilah Dewachi Regional Adviser Telecommunications and Networking adewachi@escwa.org.lb

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arab region internet telecom summit muscat oman 28 30 may 2001

Arab Region Internet & Telecom SummitMuscat, Oman, 28 – 30 May 2001

Overview of Internet

in Arab States

Abdulilah Dewachi

Regional Adviser

Telecommunications and Networking

adewachi@escwa.org.lb

The views expressed in this presentation are those of the regional adviser and do not necessarily represent those of UNESCWA

the digital divide
The Digital Divide

86% world GDP

93% Internet users

Income

1% world GDP

0.2% Internet users

arab states sub regions
Arab States Sub-regions
  • Eastern Arab States (7)
    • Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, WB&G, Yemen
  • North African Arab States (9)
    • Algeria, Comoros, Djibouti, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Somalia, Sudan, Tunisia
  • Gulf States (6)
    • Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, SA, UAE
five indicators
Five indicators
  • Fixed lines
  • Mobile lines
  • PC’s
  • Internet hosts
  • Internet users
voice over ip
Voice Over IP

Officially allowed in:

  • Egypt
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Oman
available modes of connection
Available modes of connection
  • Dialup
    • The most common mode of connection
  • ISDN
    • Available in most countries but not used extensively
  • Leased
    • Available but expensive
  • ADSL, Broadband, Cable, Satellite, Etc.
    • Only few countries
  • VPN
mobile connection
Mobile connection

Could be very interesting in the absence of robust hard infrastructure

  • Special prepaid cards
    • About to be introduced in some countries
      • (e.g. Lebanon)
  • WAP
    • Limited interest and popularity
  • GPRS and 3G
    • ?
seven soft indicators
Seven “Soft” indicators
  • Human Development Index
  • Gender Development Index
  • School Enrollment Ratio
  • Adult Literacy
  • Education Index
  • Internet hosts
  • Internet users
internet usage profiles
Internet Usage Profiles

Place of access

  • 72% of users acces the net at home
  • 22% go online at work
  • 4% from educational institutions
  • 2% from Internet cafes
internet usage profiles37
Internet Usage Profiles

Educational Level

  • 27% high-school or less
  • 44% bachelors degrees
  • 18% graduate diplomas or masters
  • 3.5% PhD or doctoral degrees
internet usage profiles38
Internet Usage Profiles

Age

  • 31.9% are between 21 and 26
  • 37.7% are between 27 and 35
  • 15.7% are between 36 and 45
  • 4.5% over 60
internet usage profiles39
Internet Usage Profiles

Distribution across professions

  • 15% IT and telecom engineers
  • 11.1% other engineers
  • 10% computer technicians
  • 5.4% management and consultants
women on the internet
Women on the Internet
  • United States of America 38%
  • Brazil 25%
  • Japan 17%
  • Russia 16%
  • China 7%
  • Arab States 4%
electronic commerce

Electronic Commerce

Electronic Government

The Arabic Language

Quality of Web Sites

Content

electronic commerce43

Electronic Commerce

Electronic Government

The Arabic Language

Quality of Web Sites

Content

problem areas
Problem Areas
  • Government Role
    • Facilitator
    • Regulator and legislator
    • User
  • Local habits
  • Credit cards creditability
  • Freight charges
problem areas48
Problem Areas
  • Trade barriers
  • Disintermediation
  • Local and regional market
  • Import or export?
electronic commerce50

Electronic Commerce

Electronic Government

The Arabic Language

Quality of Web Sites

Content

e government applications
E-Government Applications
  • Serving the citizen better
  • Increasing the internal efficiency of government administration
  • Outreach to the rural areas
  • One-stop-shop concept
  • Overcoming corruption
  • Gender equality
electronic commerce52

Electronic Commerce

Electronic Government

The Arabic Language

Quality of Web Sites

Content

arabic
Arabic
  • Arabic is one of the top 10 languages in the world, its order of presence on the Internet is below 20
  • Demand for Arabic on the Internet has increased resulting in more software development for Arabic applications.
  • The Arabic Internet Names Consortium (AINC)
electronic commerce55

Electronic Commerce

Electronic Government

The Arabic Language

Quality of Web Sites

Content

web sites
Web sites
  • Most Web sites in the region are:
    • Informational only
    • Updated infrequently
    • Static with hardly any interactive or downloadable materials
  • Jordan’s software and website developers are already into the US outsourcing market. Jordan’s IT sector could provide 30000 jobs and US$ 150 million in the next five years.
electronic commerce57

Electronic Commerce

Electronic Government

The Arabic Language

Quality of Web Sites

Content

content
Content
  • Egypt’s domination of the Arabic language media industry could translate into an online industry.
  • Music, art and religion are leading the content market
sources of data
Sources of data
  • UN Secretary General report to ECOSOC High Level Segment

(July – August 2000)

  • International Telecommunications Union (ITU)
  • United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
  • Internet Software Consortium (ISC)
  • Nua Internet Surveys
  • Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU)
  • Arab World Internet
  • IT News (DITnet.)
  • Middle East Directory
  • Ripe NCC
  • CommerceNet Research Center
  • Global Research
conclusions 1 5
Conclusions (1 - 5)
  • Most Arab states had slow launch into the new age of information and communication technology and the Internet
  • Internet penetration is low due to:
    • Outdated communication infrastructure
    • The dearth of vernacular-language software websites
    • Governments suspicious of the social and security consequences of plugged-in population
  • Online access has remained the exclusive domain of the privileged few. Cost of hardware is unaffordable to the average Arab citizen.
conclusions 2 5
Conclusions (2 – 5)
  • Statistics show that mobile penetration in the region is in a better position than both PC’s and Internet penetrations. This may improve Internet penetration in the region once the mobile becomes the dominating apparatus for Internet access in the next few years
conclusions 3 5
Conclusions (3 – 5)
  • The cost of technology delays access. Most state owned telecom monopolies ( with few exceptions) have delayed much needed investments in cable networks, or have ploughed limited resources into digital mobile networks.
  • For the Arab States to improve their technical infrastructure up to world average level of basic and IT indicators, no less than $40 billion investment is needed over the next few years.
conclusions 4 5
Conclusions (4 – 5)
  • Not enough regional coordination and collaboration
  • Education, literacy, gender are long term barriers.
  • Cultural impediments
  • Low usage of credit cards with widespread fear of fraud. Demand for credit cards in Arab Gulf states grew by about 42% in 1999.
conclusions 5 5
Conclusions (5 – 5)
  • Internet accounts growth in the region in the last 2 years is about 8% per month.
  • Prices are falling making access more affordable.
  • Egypt is the world fastest growing PC market after China.
  • Number and quality of connection of telephone lines and bandwidth are improving