While 2020 has been a turbulent and disruptive year for economies around the world, it has been a significant year for technology and science. In fact, US technology firms like Amazon, Microsoft and Tesla have been the most popular companies among investors this year. Taking a look back at the year, era. highlighted the most liked coverage on its Instagram profile and analysed the most popular Google searches in the region during 2020. Looking forward to 2021, here are the technology and science predictions to expect over the next year in the Middle East and North Africa.
1. The Rise of Contactless Payments
Contactless payments became very popular this year as people sought more hygienic solutions to pay for daily essentials. As a result, governments across the region increased contactless spend limits. For example, in Bahrain, the government more than doubled the spend limit from BHD 20 to BHD 50.
Before the pandemic, Mastercard reported a 200% increase in contactless transactions in the region during 2019. In April, the payments company said 70% of people it surveyed were using contactless payment methods in their daily lives. Moreover, now almost one in nine Mastercard point-of-sale transactions are contactless and that figure could rise through 2021.
2. E-Commerce Will Continue To Grow
Not only did the pandemic force people to pay digitally more often, but it also pushed them to shop online for their everyday groceries and necessities. In fact, in the US and Canada online retail orders grew 146% from April 2019 to April 2020. The same has been true for the MENA, a Checkout.com survey in September of 5,000 consumers found that not only do 78% of consumers consider themselves regular online shoppers but 47% also expect to shop online more during 2021.
3. Hello 5G (Again)
While the pandemic slowed the deployment of 5G globally and in the region, telecoms giant Ericsson is still optimistic. In a recent Mobility Report, the Swedish firm predicted that there will be significant 5G rollouts during 2021 and by 2025 5G subscriptions will reach 80 million in the MENA. It also expects 4G to grow from 30% to 51% of all regional mobile connections. Moreover, the MENA is predicted to have the highest mobile data usage growth in the world. Between 2019 and 2025 mobile data usage is expected to grow nine times.
4. COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout
Closing out the technology and science predictions for 2021, it would be impossible not to mention the rollout of the new COVID-19 vaccines. Countries across the MENA have placed huge orders of doses and some have even started vaccinating. The UAE has started offering free vaccines to citizens and residents of the Emirates. Likewise, Egypt said it will do the same for its citizens. Moreover, Saudi Arabia has signed multiple agreements with vaccine producers that it hopes to provide for free to 70% of its population by the end of 2021. As a result, people can expect rollouts of these vaccines to continue well into the next year.
For More Tech Coverage Check Out:
- Your Favorite Instagram Moments of 2020
- How ‘Magic Sand’ Could Improve Middle East Food Security
- What The Middle East Searched For In 2020
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