With its booming economy and ambitious ICT investment programme, Qatar is expected to be the fastestgrowing IT market in the region over BMI's five-year forecast period. 2011-2015 IT spending CAGR is forecast at 12%, with opportunities in sectors such as infrastructure, hydrocarbon, banking and telecoms.
The decision to award Qatar the 2022 FIFA World Cup is expected to fuel a wave of investment in IT products and services The government's ICT-2015 strategy will also create opportunities. In 2010 vendors reported a pick-up in IT services project flow, with new IT projects in banking, government, real estate and education, and from large organisations such as Qatar Steel and Qatar National Bank.
The Qatari government has outlined plans to invest QTR6bn (US$1.6bn) in information technology and IT services as part of its ICT-2015 strategy. Qatar is planning to build digital networks, smart cities, and other technology landmarks as part of the plan. One of the key components is a national FTTH network.
ictQATAR has several priority policy areas, including telecoms liberalisation, online government, elearning, e-health and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). A government target is to increase utilisation of ICT by SMEs. The government is also implementing a major IT initiative in the healthcare area.
The Indian IT services giants are hoping to take advantage of growth in the Qatar market In 2010, Tata Communications launched a cooperation with Qtel to provide a range of enterprise network services. HCL Technologies, another large Indian IT services provider, has more than doubled its regional revenues, with Qatar reported to be its highest-growth regional market. Meanwhile in April 2011, Mahindra Satyam won a large enterprise resource planning (ERP) contract from Qatar University, the largest academic institution in Qatar.
Cloud computing is a major vendor focus. In2010, Microsoft launched an agreement with local telecoms company Qtel to deliver cloud-based services and software applications over Qtel's converged network. Meanwhile leading IT service provider Gulf Business Machines (GBM) announced in late 2010 that it had become a business partner of cloud computing pioneer Salesforce.com in the GCC region.
Traditional telecoms services providers have themselves been moving into the IT services space, and this trend has been accelerated by the emerging popularity of cloud computing services. In August 2010, Qtel announced it was to launch a new specialist business solutions provider company offering ICT servies to companies across Qatar. Qtel will partner in the venture with EMEA, which provides managed services.
The Qatari addressable computer hardware market including PCs, notebooks and accessories is forecast at around US$244mn in 2011, with double-digit economic growth, massive infrastructure projects, and demand from an expanding hydrocarbon sector among the drivers. Going forward, government projects, and particularly substantial spending on IT in education, will boost computer hardware spending.
The Qatari computer hardware market is projected to grow at a CAGR of 7% between 2011 and 2015. An evolving retail landscape will help to stimulate sales, with the traditional domination of smaller stores having been diluted by the appearance of multi-brand electronics sections in hypermarkets and monobrand stores in malls. A growing population has also helped expand the consumer segment and attract new retailers into the market.
SoftwareBMI forecasts a software market value of US$91mn in 2011. With the evolution of the IT market, a stronger strategic focus on software spending is being seen, with procurement decisions often taken at a higher executive level. Software spending is expected to grow to at a CAGR of 13% during BMI's five-year forecast period.
Growth areas include business intelligence and other information management applications, as Qatari companies seek more efficiency in both internal collaboration and relationships with international customers and partners. There remains demand for basic ERP, however, even among larger manufacturing and service sector companies. A Qatari government report found that software piracy had declined by almost 10% within the last five years.
The IT services market is forecast to be the fastest-growing segment of the Qatari IT market between 2011 and 2015, outperforming the hardware and software sectors. Indeed, it has steadily increased for the last 10 years. With IT services spending estimated to grow to US$275mn by 2015, the next period promises to see more opportunities in sectors such as financial services, healthcare, education and communications.
In 2010 new tenders were being awarded by banks, real estate organisations and educational institutions. Going forward, demand will be driven by the ambition of Qatari companies to expand regionally and internationally.
Qatar's broadband market continues to suffer from a lack of competition and the sector has been criticised for its high subscription fees. These factors could account for the relatively slow growth that has characterised the broadband market and the wider internet subscriber market. This was expected to change during 2009, however, as Vodafone Qatar geared up to launch services. Although ADSL will be the strongest driver of broadband subscription growth, we expect to see an increasing focus on wireless broadband services such as WiMAX.
Qatar was one of the regional movers in the UN's most recent e-readiness survey. Qatar moved up four places to 32nd, due to government initiatives and expanding broadband penetration. The country performed even better in the e-government rankings, moving from 62nd to 53rd place. The government launched a new e-services portal in 2008 and is rolling out new initiatives in various areas.