The Middle East and Africa (MEA) governments intend to spend $15 billion on ICT emerging technologies by 2023. The International Data Corporation (IDC) recently disclosed in a report that the MEA region is staking on emerging technologies with the main focus geared towards blockchain and artificial intelligence.
Governments in the Middle East and Africa region poured $12.8 billion on emerging technologies in 2019, the report further revealed. IDC says that the figure will increase at a rate of 4.85% compounded annually. With the seamless focus on digital transformation projects, governments in this region look forward to increasing their expenditure to 17.6% CAGR within the next four years.
Many governments in Africa and the Middle East have taken a keen interest in emerging technologies such as blockchain. Their main goal is to combine the technology with the other digital transformation projects. They also see blockchain as a pillar for boosting security and creating a fraud-free environment for government services. This will also help to improve relationships with the citizens.
MEA governments spent $21 million on blockchain in 2019. This figure is expected to multiply five-folds within a period of four years, boasting a 49.2% CAGR.
According to Jyoti Lalchandani, VP for the MEA region at IDC, digital transformation initiatives have been quite challenging to the MEA governments mainly because they are ill-equipped or not ready to embrace them.
“Governments across the region are under mounting pressure to become both more efficient and more effective. However, this is proving to be a troublesome task as many government organizations are simply not prepared for digital redesign,” he said.
He added that government agencies have a long way to go when it comes to improving IT skills and coming up with ideas for integrating 5G, Al and blockchain.
The Middle East has recently embraced blockchain, with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) taking the lead. In 2018, UAE launched the Emirates Blockchain Strategy, with the intention to integrate government transactions with blockchain. Furthermore, Dubai has been the epitome of the blockchain within UAE, featuring a number of blockchain projects.
Africa has also seen a remarkable increase in the way blockchain is applied to address the challenges that have been on facing the continent for quite a long time. Matters like corruption, inter-border funds transfer, land issues, and government responsibility are pushing the African governments and key stakeholders to adopt blockchain technology.
For example, Tunisia’s central bank launched a central bank digital currency (CBDC) last year, becoming the first African nation to issue a digital currency. Ghana is another country that is actively exploring CBDC in Africa. Ghana’s central bank hopes a digital currency will complement recent growth in mobile money and help the country in its push towards financial inclusion.
Nations like Egypt and South Africa are also looking to blockchain to build smart grids and help solve Africa’s energy crisis. Blockchain academic centers are also springing up in South Africa, Nigeria, and Rwanda, while Kenya is implementing coffee-based agricultural blockchain initiatives. It is fair to say that blockchain development across Africa is becoming ubiquitous.