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Broadband Networks in the Middle East and North Africa: Accelerating High-Speed Internet Access

By: Natalija Gelvanovska, Michel Rogy, Carlo Maria Rossotto

Cover of the report

The demand for widespread access to broadband internet, a key driver of economic growth, job creation, and social inclusion, has never been greater in the Arab world. This report, “Broadband Networks in MENA: Accelerating High-Speed Internet Access", takes stock of the existing infrastructure in at least 18 countries, and examines the various regulatory and market bottlenecks that are hampering the growth of the Internet in the region. The report is also in tune with the regional transition toward more inclusive development and addresses the need for stimulating growth and creating desperately needed jobs.

Download the report "Broadband Networks in MENA: Accelerating High-Speed Internet Access" in PDF:

English (Full), Arabic (Executive Summary), French (Executive Summary).


CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION

The report’s opening chapter presents the importance of broadband for economic and social development for the countries of the Middle East and Africa (MENA). It compares the performance of MENA internationally in terms of broadband, noting the correlation between good economic performance on the one hand, and low prices and high penetration of broadband on the other.

CHAPTER 2: NATIONAL BROADBAND POLICIES AND MARKET DEVELOPMENT

Chapter 2 examines in more detail the current state of fixed and mobile broadband networks and constraining factors for broadband development in MENA countries. The importance of national broadband policies is described and their core objectives in improving access, stimulating adoption, and enabling competition, the relative importance of which depends on the stage of market development.

CHAPTER 3: INFRASTRUCTURE DEPLOYMENT AND DEVELOPING COMPETITION

The key challenges of broadband infrastructure deployment and development of competition in are identified in Chapter 3, in terms international and regional connectivity, national backbone, and access networks (fixed and mobile). All three elements have to be in place and optimally used to meet increasing demand in the most cost-effective way but challenges in terms of investment differ significantly.

CHAPTER 4: RECOMMENDATIONS TO ACCELERATE THE DEVELOPMENT OF BROADBAND INFRASTRUCTURE

Chapter 4 provides recommendations to address the development of broadband infrastructure. The key factors limiting its development in most countries in the region are lack of effective competition and lack of appropriate regulation. The report recommends promoting facilities-based competition, addressing underserved areas of the country, applying new models of infrastructure supply, and implementing measures to decrease deployment costs.

CHAPTER 5: CONCLUSION

The final chapter briefly summarizes the opportunity and the challenges facing countries in the MENA region with regard to broadband development. Currently MENA lags behind other regions in terms of prices, penetration and content but the potential benefits of leapfrogging existing infrastructure are high.

ANNEXES

The annexes include detailed case studies of the status of broadband policy and broadband development in selected MENA countries (Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, Libya, Tunisia and Jordan).