Concerted initiatives taken by Business Software Alliance (BSA), have helped to bring down software piracy in the Middle East, despite the buoyant growth in sales of personal computers (PC) and booming IT penetration.
A recent report quoted by Madar Research revealed that PC unit sales across the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states alone had grown to 38.66 per cent during 2005, exceeding by over 100 per cent the average growth of PC shipments to the combined Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) markets. This estimate featured in a preliminary report released by international research firm Gartner Data Quest in early 2006, which ranked the EMEA as the second highest growing region in the world in terms of PC shipments at 17.1 per cent.
Encouragingly though, software piracy levels in the Middle East declined in 2005, dropping by one percentage point to 57 per cent, at a time when global software piracy rates remained unchanged at 35 per cent, according to the third annual BSA and IDC Global Software Piracy Study published in May 2006. The IDC is the IT industry’s leading global market research and forecasting firm.
Noting that software piracy rates had fallen in nearly 19 out of 26 countries in the Middle East and Africa region that the study covered, Jawad Al Redha, Co-Chairman of BSA Middle East said: “BSA is happy to see that its efforts to reduce software piracy have been fruitful. However, government support in the form of strict vigilance of laws pertaining to Intellectual Property Rights and increased awareness campaigns has been crucial in making our anti-piracy campaigns effective.”
The region’s decreasing rate of software piracy becomes an achievement also when juxtaposed against the rise in the average Arab ICT Use Index, which went up by 42.89 per cent in 2005 to reach 0.51, as revealed in the Madar Research ICT Use Index. This saw the region’s Internet users growing by 54.84 per cent to touch 26 million while the computer installed base expanded to 14 million computers, reflecting a 29.24 per cent increase in 2005.
The UAE’s performance in curbing software piracy was particularly noteworthy with the country registering the lowest piracy rate of 34 per cent in the region, for the tenth consecutive year despite registering the GCC region’s highest growth of 45.24 per cent in PC unit sales during 2005. The level of piracy in the UAE was lower than some European countries and also below that of the global piracy rate of 35 per cent, making it the only Arab country and sole emerging economy to figure among the top 20 countries with the lowest piracy rates in the world, states the IDC report.
“The UAE government has played a commendable role in bringing down software piracy levels, which has resulted in the country’s IT sector growing into a US$ 1.3 billion industry today. Business Software Alliance is proud to have played an active part in this growth and will continue its initiatives to enable the region’s IT industry reach its potential by creating a healthy climate for IT investments and entrepreneurial activity and generating new job opportunities,” Al Redha added.