The market for drones and drone technology in the Gulf is expected to reach $1.5 billion by 2022 – driven primarily by oil and gas and utilities, a new report claims.
Drone technology has expanded well beyond its original military purposes and entered the commercial sector, notes a report by Strategy&, part of PWC.
The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) projects that the number of commercial drones in the US will reach almost three million by 2020 – quadruple the number in 2016.
The fast-growing industry presents particular opportunities for the GCC oil and gas and utilities sectors, which are expected to take a 43 percent and 32 percent slice of the market, respectively.
Strategy& noted, within the utilities sector, telecoms operators are especially well placed to take a bite of the drones market, as they can provide connectivity services such as drone traffic control centres, and work with regulators to generate revenue from their services.
This concept has already begun to be implemented regionally, with the UAE’s General Civil Aviation Authority forming a tie-up with a technology vendor last November to establish a drone traffic control centre.
Jad Hajj, partner with Strategy& Middle East, said: “Telecom operators can leverage their existing capabilities and resources to offer advanced drone solutions to other sectors. For example, with their extensive tower networks, they are able to provide constant connectivity which is crucial for data transfer.
“They have access to advanced cloud technologies which can be used for data storage, and are equipped with world-class data processing systems to analyse information collected by the drones.
“As the drone industry grows, it is an obvious choice for telecom operators to seize this opportunity, given its potential.”
Strategy&’s report added that commercial firms seeking to enter the drones market need to develop a clear strategy and engage with regulators to obtain necessary permissions.