The fifth annual edition of eMarketer’s Global Media Intelligence Report, produced in conjunction with Starcom Mediavest Group, analyzes recent developments in the Middle East and Africa region (MEA), which has suffered setbacks in the past year, as civil unrest, escalating violence, political instability and medical crises afflicted the region.
The report includes demographic and media usage information on audiences in Egypt, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, South Africa and the UAE.
The MEA region is one of the world’s most vibrant and fast-growing mobile markets – and one of the largest. Only Asia-Pacific can boast more mobile phone users. eMarketer estimates that more than 606 million people in the MEA region will have at least one mobile phone this year and the total will cross 789m in 2019.
Smartphone usage in many Middle Eastern markets jumped again in 2014. According to Ipsos MediaCT, 79 percent of Saudi Arabia’s entire population used an advanced handset last year; in UAE, the corresponding figure was 91 percent, a gain of nearly 20 percentage points in a single year. In Kuwait, penetration rose from 49 percent to 86 percent in just two years, Ipsos reported.
Smartphone usage in the MEA region is climbing more rapidly than eMarketer projected a year ago. It is now estimated that the smartphone population in MEA will pass 106m this year. On the other hand, fewer than 18 percent of mobile phone users in the region will have such a device. In 2019, that share is expected to reach 22 percent, as the number of residents with a smartphone approaches 174m.
Two segments of the population are driving smartphone usage: consumers trading up from more basic feature phones and new subscribers – particularly younger, affluent individuals – entering the market at a time when smartphones are affordable for them. Tablets are also proliferating, though cost is still a barrier for many consumers.
eMarketer bases all of its forecasts on a multipronged approach that focuses on both worldwide and local trends in the economy, technology and population, along with company-, product-, country- and demographic-specific trends, and trends in specific consumer behaviors. It analyzes quantitative and qualitative data from a variety of research firms, government agencies, media outlets and company reports, weighting each piece of information based on methodology and soundness.
In addition, every element of each eMarketer forecast fits within the larger matrix of all its forecasts, with the same assumptions and general framework used to project figures in a wide variety of areas. Regular re-evaluation of each forecast means those assumptions and framework are constantly updated to reflect new market developments and other trends.