USD15.4 billion boost to Middle East's GDP is at stake at WRC-19

The World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-19) will take place from 28 October to 22 November 2019.
Jawad Abbassi, head of GSMA in the MENA region
Jawad Abbassi, head of GSMA in the MENA region


Innovative 5G services will generate USD15.4 billion in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region by 2034, according to a report by the GSMA. Countries like the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia alongside other Gulf states are forecast to contribute the largest share. This is subject to the availability of necessary radio frequencies, including those known as 'millimeter wave' frequencies that will deliver ultra-high capacity and ultra-high-speed services.

Over 3,000 delegates from 190 nations will gather at the WRC-19 where the 5G mmWave spectrum will be identified and how it may be used. European countries are determined to limit the use of this spectrum due to unfounded claims of potential interference with some space services. Technical services supported by Africa, the Americas and Arab states have demonstrated that 5G can co-exist safely and efficiently alongside weather-sensing services, commercial services and others.

In addition to bringing high-speed connectivity to homes and offices without the high deployment costs of fixed infrastructure, mmWave 5G opens up new possibilities for economic growth across the region. Both 5G and mmWave together create low-lag, data intensive applications that can transform a wide variety of industries and use cases.

A new breed of 5G applications will enable industries to make a much larger economic impact than ever before whilst becoming safer and more efficient. In the MENA region, professional and financial services are expected to contribute the most to GDP growth from mmWave, making up 34 per cent of the total growth. Many Gulf nations are fossil fuel rich, making the manufacturing and utilities sector the second largest driver of economic growth through mmWave with 29 per cent. 

Jawad Abbassi, the head of GSMA for the MENA region says, “WRC-19 is the only opportunity for years to come for countries to identify mmWave spectrum for 5G use, enabling the delivery of innovative new services for their citizens and industries. The MENA region stands to benefit from better healthcare and education, as well as new benchmarks in industrial productivity, entertainment services and smart transport, but only if we can secure the needed spectrum.”

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