Newsroom International

MENA Region Could Spend Up To $3bn on Artificial Intelligence in 2023

12 April 2023 Written by Staff Writer

The Middle East and Africa region is poised for significant growth in the artificial intelligence (AI) industry, with International Data Corporation (IDC) forecasting that spending in the sector will surge at a compound annual growth rate of 29.7% to reach $6.4 billion by 2026.

According to the IDC report, spending on AI in the region is set to hit $3 billion this year, which accounts for nearly 2% of global AI spending, which stands at $151.4 billion. Banking, retail, federal government and manufacturing are set to be the biggest spenders on AI in the region in 2022. However, IDC expects professional services and transportation to experience the fastest growth in AI spending between 2022 and 2026, with annual growth rates of 36.4% and 33.9%, respectively.

Cloud solutions and digital transformation are set to drive AI spending over the coming years. The IDC report revealed that the pandemic has fuelled further spending in relation to AI and machine learning adoption, particularly within the banking and finance, manufacturing, trade, healthcare and government verticals. The impact of AI and machine learning is set to be significant, with Goldman Sachs estimating that generative AI, one of the most disruptive offshoots of AI technology, could drive a 7% increase in the global economy, which equates to almost $7 trillion, and lift productivity growth by 1.5 percentage points over a 10-year period.

Despite the promising growth prospects for AI in the Middle East and Africa, the region is facing challenges due to the lack of skilled professionals, such as data scientists, data engineers and AI modellers. However, the region is taking steps to address the issue, with organisations in both the public and private sectors partnering to foster AI- and machine learning-specific learning.

In the UAE, for example, the Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence in Abu Dhabi is providing AI programmes to encourage local students to explore the technology. Other initiatives include the Dubai Future Foundation's Dubai 10X programme, which aims to make Dubai ten years ahead of other cities in the world, and the Sharjah Research, Technology and Innovation Park, which provides R&D infrastructure and support for tech start-ups.

The Middle East and Africa region is set for significant growth in the AI industry, with cloud solutions and digital transformation driving spending over the coming years. However, the region must address the lack of skilled professionals to ensure the full potential of AI can be realised. With initiatives in place to upskill local talent, the future looks bright for the AI industry in the region.