Technology to boost trade diversification

Technology to boost trade diversification
Updated 26 January 2016

Technology to boost trade diversification

Technology to boost trade diversification

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia, predominantly an oil-based country, is making serious efforts to diversify by transforming itself into a knowledge-based economy.
In this context, the adoption and usage of information and communication technology (ICT) Kingdomwide has continued to witness tremendous growth.
The Kingdom’s strong economic growth is driving increased business activity and investment inflows amid continued national infrastructure construction, and expansion of government services.
ICT was among the highlights and of high interest of the 9th Global Competitiveness Forum (GCF) organized by Saudi General Investment Authority (SAGIA). The annual event had the participation of a number of global players in the industry, including the giant Chinese ICT Company.
Huawei was a major sponsor of this year’s event as part of its active role in the market bringing the latest technologies and giving solutions to the country’s ICT needs, and providing training to young Saudis.
Huawei hosted a workshop on Tuesday as part of the GCF activities this year during which Huawei presented its capacity in ICT infrastructure with a view to boosting Saudi Arabia’s economy and ambitious diversification plan.
The annual event discussed many dimensions of competitiveness and their role in fostering economic growth toward sustainable development.
Under the theme, transforming into a digital Kingdom, Huawei discussed how ICT infrastructure will help to boost the Saudi economy and its diversification.
In his presentation on the "Future of ICT in KSA — challenges and opportunities ahead," Riedl Hermann, regional managing director, said the past few years have seen progress in the Kingdom’s ICT sector with significant investments in broadband and one of the highest smart phone penetration rates globally.
“Yet, there is significant room for improvement in many areas – as also indicated by the rather low ranking of Saudi Arabia in global ICT rankings,” he observed.
This session explored the challenges and opportunities to become an ICT-leading nation, and articulate a digital agenda to advance the level of ICT and deliver the associated socio-economic benefits and how ICT can fit to the Kingdom’s 2020 plan.
He said Saudis have eagerly adopted digital technologies where 56 million are mobile subscribers with 185 percent mobile penetration. According to him, Saudi Arabia is the largest in the world in terms of You Tube daily views (90 million) while broadband subscribers are 3.3 million.
Twitter users in Saudi Arabia stood at 2.4 million with 17 million daily tweets.
According to Saudi Communication and Information Technology Commission (ICT) Saudi Arabia has placed great importance on diffusing technologies throughout the nation -across the public and private sectors and civil society.
This is apparent in its strategic objectives as per its 9th Economic Development Plan (2010-1014), including evolving into a knowledge-based economy.
According to ICT report, Saudi Arabia’s ICT spending in 2014 totaled SR 111.98 billion. During the year, telecommunications services and hardware accounted for 65 percent and 23 percent ICT spending respectively. The Kingdom’s ICT spending in 2014 is larger than all other GCC nations combined.
ICT investment in the Kingdom in the same year totaled SR17.83 billion. Packaged and in-house developed software accounted for the greatest share of ICT investment, approximately 47 percent totaling SR8.39 billion.
According to reports, among the key drivers for ICT investment in Saudi Arabia are a strong economy, high political stability, a youthful population, and national policies that emphasize economic diversification.
ICT investments in the Kingdom are also spurred by growing foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows, an expanding ecosystem of institutions that support ICT innovation and entrepreneurship, a thriving telecommunication sector and vibrant IYT services industry.
Other factors, supportive of the ICT investment environment include widespread smart device adoption, expanding Internet usage, growing scientific research and focus on intellectual property creation, and the consolidation of e-government services.
ICT has the potential to impact an economy in multiple ways. In government and private sector organizations, ICT investments lead to deepening of capital and improvements in operational efficiency and labor productivity.
Investment in national ICT infrastructure such as telecommunications networks enhances competitiveness of industries.
The government’s ICT investments in areas such as e-government services contribute to better citizen services and improve standards of living. Furthermore, investments can also provide platforms for innovation and new enterprise formation, which can contribute to employment creation.