20 Dec 22

Africa and the Middle East: up and coming

Traditionally, Africa and the Middle East don’t figure high on the priority lists of the global fleet and mobility industry. That is changing, and that change will accelerate in 2023. A quick look ahead at what to expect from these up and coming regions (pictured: traffic in Cairo, where Africa and the Middle East overlap). 

As it has proved with global aviation and even with the recent World Cup, the Middle East has the ambition and ability to be a global player in any industry it sets its mind to. And that includes mobility. 

The UAE, and increasingly Saudi Arabia, are converting oil wealth into leadership in new mobility solutions. While they have the money, Egypt has the masses to test and validate those solutions. And with some success. ‘Super app’ Careem, for instance, is popular all the way to Pakistan. 

In other words, the Middle East is a global mobility powerhouse waiting to happen. Will 2023 be the year when it does? That depends on whether the region’s knack for innovation – much of it state-sponsored – will find a niche that generates viral success, which is much harder to predict. But one thing is certain: the next big thing in mobility could just as well be Middle Eastern as European, Asian or American.

Arguably, no continent is more relevant to the automotive industry than Africa. It is the source of many of the rare minerals that are needed to produce EVs. Having the right resources is an increasingly relevant trump card, as African economies mature, producing the experts and consumers that could jumpstart a native automotive industry. 

Even though Africa generally lacks the deep pockets of the Middle East, that is less far-fetched than it sounds. South Africa recently showed off its first natively designed and produced EV. And two- and three-wheeled electric mobility is taking off across many African cities. Perhaps these bottom-priced vehicles can become African export products to more mature markets, where electrification for now is synonymous with hefty price rises. 

In 2023, fleet and mobility professionals should look beyond the traditional world regions to the Middle East and Africa, not just for new markets, but also for new solutions.

Image: Shutterstock

Authored by: Frank Jacobs