RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s telecoms watchdog said it expects spending on IT products and software to slow down in the next few years, with analysts citing a saturated telecoms market and fewer new broadband users.
Spending on information technology will grow by an average 13.4 percent in the 2011-2013 period, down from an expected 17 percent in 2010, the Communication and Information Technology Commission (CITC) said in a report posted on its website.
Saudi Arabia is the biggest Middle East market for such products but spending per capita is below a third its level in neighboring United Arab Emirates, CITC said.
CITC did not explain the expected decline in the growth but
Information technology spending stood at 22.3 billion riyals ($5.95 billion) in 2009, accounting for 30 percent of the overall spending on telecommunications and information technology in the kingdom, CITC said.
CITC did not say by how much spending on information technology rose in 2009 noting only that it grew by an average 18.5 percent over the 2001-2009 period.
The number of mobile phone users reached 46 million by the end of the first quarter of 2010, which means a 178 percent penetration rate, CITC added.
Only 14 percent of these were post-paid clients, CITC said. Broadband internet users stood at 2.9 million by the end of March, a 6 percent increase from the end of 2009, it added.
Active fixed-line phone lines stood at 4.15 million by the end of March of which 3.13 million were in households or 69.5 percent of total homes in the kingdom, CITC said.