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Over the next five years, 50 emerging markets will deploy 248.4 million smart electricity meters with an investment total of approximately $34.7 billion.

A further $32.8 billion will be invested in additional smart grid infrastructure over the same period, including distribution automation and battery storage, among other segments.

Of the 50 countries, 33 have already begun large-scale AMI projects or have imminent plans, says Northeast Group in their 7th edition of the Emerging Markets Smart Grid: Outlook 2018 study.

Regulatory momentum is driving the growth of smart grid infrastructure investment across emerging markets.

A precedent was set years ago by the European Union with its 80% smart metering target and now developing country regulators have followed suit, implementing their own AMI targets, with regulatory targets having been set in parts of Latin America, the Middle East, South Asia and Southeast Asia.

At the end of 2017, there were 44.4 million smart meters installed across the 50 countries. With regulatory targets and other drivers, this number will grow by 248.4 million between 2018 and 2022.

Recent tender activity has been seen in countries as diverse as Kenya, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, India and several countries across Southeast Asia and Latin America.

One finding from the study is that the AMI market is increasingly coming under pricing pressure. Chinese and Indian vendors have branched out into other emerging market regions, exerting downward pressure on the price per endpoint.

Previous editions of the study had looked out over a one-decade timeframe, but with current activity picking up, it has been restructured to look specifically at near-term opportunities across the 50 countries.