The Iranian ICT sector, a
keystone of the country’s non-prime economic expansion, is set for exponential
growth thanks to its unique combination of demographic and economic variables.
A major engine of this growth
is undoubtedly Iran’s population, which is large, young, and quick to pick up
new technologies. Of Iran’s 73 million citizens, 70% are under 30 and 80% are
A consistently increasing
level of disposable income is creating a consumer class, while new players and
technologies are helping to build sophistication and demand among them. It is
estimated that consumer expenditure on telecoms equipment will reach $500
million and expenditure on services will hit $6 billion by 2014.
In the context of low penetration in strategic ICT areas, this formula portends
the exponential growth.
Iran’s mobile phone
penetration is 129%, representing the fact that many Iranians have more than one
phone or subscriber identity module (SIM); however, the number of smart phones
on the market remains relatively low. There are an astounding 23 million
internet users in Iran, but only 2 million have access to broadband.
Iran is by far the biggest
market in the Middle East for mobile phone subscriptions, with 90 million by
end-2012. In terms of revenue, it is the fourth most lucrative market, in the
region of $9.2 billion. Its estimated growth rate of 6%- 7% per annum puts it
among the top-five countries in the world.
According to the Electronic
Journal on Information Systems in Developing Countries (EJISDC), the sector
employs 150,000 people and accounts for 1.3% of GDP.
Rural expansion has been a key element in the government’s growth strategy, and
the country was recently awarded the UNESCO special certificate for developing
telecommunication services in rural areas. The current administration is
targeting to provide computers and internet to every school in the country.