Investment in artificial intelligence (AI) in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) is predicted to grow 42.5% year-on-year in 2019, to more than $290 million, according to the latest forecast from International Data Corporation (IDC).
The tech research specialist expects investment in AI across the region to continue increasing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 22.2% over the 2019 to 2022 period, taking AI spending across MEA to $530 million in 2022.
"Spending on AI in the MEA region this year is set to almost double from where it stood in 2017, which reflects the huge growth in interest we have seen around this technology over the last 18 months," noted Jyoti Lalchandani, IDC's group VP and MD for the Middle East, Turkey and Africa, in a media release about the forecast.
"Investments in artificial intelligence are being driven by the promise, opportunity and excitement of a new wave of automation that not only drives inefficiency out of processes but also changes how people interact with the digital world around them," Lalchandani added.
IDC's research shows that banking, manufacturing and retail will be the top three industries in terms of AI investment this year. These industries will remain the top three through 2022, although spending by federal or central governments across MEA will see the strongest growth of the region's top five verticals, increasing at a CAGR of 26.3%.
The three most popular use cases -- automated customer service agents, automated threat intelligence and prevention systems, and fraud analysis and investigation -- will account for a combined 31.4% of AI investment across MEA in 2019. IDC believes spending on automated customer service agents will grow the fastest, at a CAGR of 25.8%, to reach $66 million in 2022.
"Indeed, the use of AI-based automation and the changing relationship between employees and increasingly intelligent machines will drive opportunities to evaluate and enhance existing business processes in ways that have not been seen since the early 1990s," Lalchandani concluded.
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