Middle East and Africa spending in information technology, or IT, is expected to reach $91 billion by 2015, according to a top official of the International Data Corporation, or IDC. By the end of 2012, according to an IDC forecast, IT spending will touch $72 billion in the Middle East, Turkey and Africa in total. “Telecom services spending is expected to be almost double than total IT spending which is $140 billion in the region for 2012 and combined ICT spending will be more than $210 billion,” IDC vice-president and regional managing director for Middle East, Africa and Turkey Jyoti Lalchandani told Khaleej Times on the sidelines of the inaugural MEA Directions Forum in Dubai recently. Talking about the event, he said the forum is an IDC event series that talks about IDC’s perspective on the direction of ICT industry over the next 12 months. “We have been doing this event in the US for many years. This is the first time its happening in this region,” Lalchandani said. “The idea is to bring together IT vendors, channel partners, service providers, and regulators to discuss the trend we see in the IT industry globally and in this region in the next 12 months.” Elaborating on trends, Lalchandani said: “We believe there will be four big trends that will shape the industry and these are cloud, mobility, big data and social technologies.” The forum, which was started with a welcome address by Lalchandani, was divided into two sessions. The first session talked about the future of IT; How technology transformations will shape the world over the next decade. It also discussed global IT markets in context of the search for growth and opportunity. Telecommunication revolution also discussed during in this session. As developed economies experience a slow down, global organisations and investors are increasingly looking to emerging markets such as the Middle East and Africa for growth. Beginning from low levels, technology adoption and use in this region has experience unprecedented growth over the past decade — the telecommunication revolution, MNC expansion and exploding consumer demand being some of the key drivers. The Big Four regional IT markets in the region — Saudi Arabia, the UAE, South Africa and Turkey — account for over 60 per cent of total IT spending. While the region has seen continued investments in infrastructure reflected in the strong growth in IT hardware spend (CAGR of 8.2 per cent during 2006-2011), spending on packaged software and IT services that help enable, leverage and manage infrastructure has grown at a faster rate of over 10 per cent CAGR. The political instability resulting from the Arab Spring has no doubt dampened — albeit moderately — the soaring growth prospects of the IT markets in the Middle East. Going forward, the effects of the crisis will continue to plague the affected countries, and along with the uncertain state of the global economy, create some spending uncertainty among IT buyers in the region.