Small yet rapid best describes the state of digital in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). Small because it has the lowest percentage of internet users worldwide, but rapid because internet penetration has seen the fastest growth in the past 4 years compared to the global average or to the rest of the world. This presents a promising potential for eMarketers in the region as we continue to see an increased fragmentation in today’s multi-media environment which is conveniently in favor of the digital arena.
In a span of ﬁve years, this digital platform has expanded from desktop & mobile computers to include smartphones, tablets, and other mobile and connectivity devices, which has in turn opened up more avenues for social media interactions. Media consumption habits have been transformed as consumers have become less sensitive to speciﬁc platforms, conveniently switching devices throughout the day and into the night to stay up-to-date on email, news, and social media.
This report by Marc Morelli, Business Operations and Go-to-Market Strategy Executive, scans the latest trends and statistics in web usage, social media and mobile consumption, as well as eCommerce adoption in the Middle East region via information culled from various resources.
Key insights from the report:
MENA has an online population of approximately 39.2 million, accounting for 3.9% of the world’s internet population. The ﬁve countries that had the highest number of internet users in the region are:
- Saudi Arabia (60% of the population with 8.5 million users)
- Morocco (35% of the population with 7.7 million users)
- Egypt (cities– 25% of the population with 5.2 million users)
- UAE (71% of the population with 4.7 million users)
- Iraq (23% of the population with 3.9 million users)
By 2014, MENA will have the second largest social networking audience reaching 248M after Asia Paciﬁc, overtaking Latin America. Though Asia-Paciﬁc will have the largest social network population worldwide (reaching 1.2B) through 2017 and the Middle East and Africa will have the second-largest audience (reaching 358M in 2017), their population penetration rates are still among the lowest worldwide.
By 2016, MENA will overtake Europe as the second largest region for mobile subscribers. Currently, Arab States & African countries have a total of 396M & 545M mobile subscribers respectively, trailing Asia Paciﬁc with 3,547M and Europe with 790M. Of these, 71M and 93M respectively have active mobile broadband subscriptions, making mobile connectivity an increasingly important marketing platform for brands in the region.
eCommerce in the Middle East and Africa will increase more quickly this year than in the emerging market,of Asia-Paciﬁc, but from a signiﬁcantly smaller base of USD27B. Digital eCommerce penetration in the Middle East, however, will continue to lag behind all other regions at 31%, after Latin America with 33%, Asia Paciﬁc at 44%, and North America and Central Europe at 72%. This only comes to prove that eCommerce adoption in the region remains very low compared to international benchmarks.