Al-Jasser: Knowledge-based economy vital for growth

Updated 05 November 2013

Al-Jasser: Knowledge-based economy vital for growth

The 5th Annual Saudi International Technology Incubation Conference opened by Economy and Planning Minister Muhammed Al-Jasser in Riyadh on Tuesday, is focusing on the need to develop a knowledge-based economy.
Speaking on the importance of transforming the Saudi economy to a knowledge-based economy driven by creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship, Al-Jasser said such a development would bring an economic renaissance in the Kingdom.
He explained that with the knowledge-based economy, countries such as Japan, Korea and Singapore have made tremendous economic progress without having natural resources.
This year, the King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) and Badir have teamed up with the Technopolicy Network to organize the 5th edition of the conference, which has incorporated the networks of the 10th International Annual Conference. Its aim is to provide stakeholders and practitioners in the entrepreneurship and incubation industry the opportunity to contribute to discussions with international and local expertriates about the importance of science and technology-based businesses within the Kingdom and to consider the latest developments in technology entrepreneurship, innovation and the role that incubators should play.
The conference will help develop knowledge and understanding between policy makers, incubation practitioners and stakeholders about the importance of science and technology-based entrepreneurship and its role in the creation of a knowledge-based economy and a diversified technology industry base, while providing networking opportunities that support the development of the Saudi incubator industry.
The minister pointed out that the spending on research and development in the Kingdom has increased from 0.4 percent to 3.4 percent, which is a remarkable achievement at the regional level. He stressed that the Kingdom has topped in such spending among the Arab countries. At global level, he said, the Kingdom has been ranked 33rd among 139 countries in spending for research and development.
KACST President Mohammed ibn Ibrahim Al-Suwaiyel said scientific research and technological advancement were pivotal elements of the progress and prosperity of nations in various developmental areas as developed countries striving toward progress, had long understood.
In fact, he said, the developed countries have spared no expense on research and development (R&D), dedicating a considerable portion of their GDP (gross domestic product) to this purpose, which has led to the phenomenal scientific and information revolution we witness today. It has also led to the fierce competition, which effectively relies on financial and economic power, as well as the possession of novel and information technology.
“Realizing that any developmental effort has to be based on a solid scientific foundation, our government has dedicated great attention to science and technology. Thus came the conception of KACST in 1397H, to promote and support applied scientific research that contribute to development in the Kingdom, supporting and coordinating the tasks of scientific institutions and research centers in that area, according to the developmental needs of the Kingdom.”
KACST has supported many scientific research projects aiming to serve developmental issues in various sectors. These research projects have yielded good results which have benefited various parties of both the private and public sectors. KACST has also provided scientists, researchers and students in Saudi universities with considerable support and services.
It is also in the process of implementing many research projects in its labs and research centers, which are well equipped. KACST research helps in solving many developmental problems that the Kingdom encounters in different areas of both the public and private sectors.
The studies, consultations and services of KACST reach most of the government's ministries. Including the Ministry of Higher Education, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Defense and Aviation.
At the lead of the large institutions which deal with KACST are Saudi Aramco, Saudi Basic Industries Corp. (SABIC), Saudi Telecom Company (STC), Saudi Pharmaceutical Industries & Medical Appliances Corporation (SPIMACO), (the Advanced Electronics Company (AEC), Saudi Electricity Company (SEC), Saudi Arabian Mining Company (Maaden), National Agricultural Development Company (NADEC), Saudi Oger and Almarai.
Nawaaf Al-Sahhaf, CEO, Badir Program for Technology, said KASCT was successful in setting up 11 incubators in major cities, including Makkah, Madinah, Riyadh, Jeddah, the Eastern Province, Qassim and Al-Kharj, which play an important role in supporting the process of economic development.
The other speakers included Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA) Gov. Abdul Latif Al-Othman and Technopolicy Network Chairman Richard Bendis.


Saudi energy giant to invest $3bn in Bangladesh’s power sector

Updated 22 October 2019

Saudi energy giant to invest $3bn in Bangladesh’s power sector

  • Experts say deal will usher in more economic and development opportunities for the country

DHAKA: Saudi Arabia’s energy giant, ACWA power, will set up an LNG-based 3,600 MW plant in Bangladesh after an agreement was signed in Dhaka on Thursday.

The MoU was signed by ACWA Chairman Mohammed Abunayyan and officials from the Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB), officials told Arab News on Monday.

According to the agreement, ACWA will invest $3 billion in Bangladesh’s energy development sector, of which $2.5 billion will be used to build the power plant while the rest will be spent on an LNG terminal to facilitate fuel supply to the plant. Under the deal, ACWA will also set up a 2 MW solar power plant.

In recent months, both countries have engaged in a series of discussions for investment opportunities in Bangladesh’s industry and energy sectors. 

During the Saudi-Bangladesh investment cooperation meeting in March this year, Dhaka proposed a $35 billion investment plan to a high-powered Saudi delegation led by Majed bin Abdullah Al-Qasabi, the Saudi commerce and investment minister, and Mohammed bin Mezyed Al-Tuwaijri, the Saudi economy and planning minister.

However, officials in Dhaka said that this was the first investment deal to be signed between the two countries.

“We have just inked the MoU for building the LNG-based power plant. Now, ACWA will conduct a feasibility study regarding the location of the plant, which is expected to be completed in the next six months,” Khaled Mahmood, chairman of BPDB, told Arab News.

He added that there are several locations in Moheshkhali, Chottogram and the Mongla port area for the proposed power plant.

“We need to find a suitable location where the drift of the river will be suitable for establishing the LNG plant and we need to also consider the suitability of establishing the transmission lines,” Mahmood said.

“It will be either a JV (Joint Venture) or an IPP (Independent Power Producer) mode of investment, which is yet to be determined. But, we are expecting that in next year the investment will start coming here,” Mahmood said.

BPDB expects to complete the set-up process of the power plant within 36 to 42 months.

“We are in close contact with ACWA and focusing on the successful completion of the project within the shortest possible time,” he said.

Abunayyan said that he was optimistic about the new investment deal.

“Bangladesh has been a model for the Muslim world in economic progress. This is our beginning, and our journey and our relationship will last for a long time,” Abunayyan told a gathering after the MoU signing ceremony.

Economists and experts in Bangladesh also welcomed the ACWA investment in the energy development sector.

“This sort of huge and long-term capital investment will create a lot of employment opportunities. On the other hand, it will facilitate other trade negotiations with the Middle Eastern countries, too,” Dr. Nazneen Ahmed, senior research fellow at the Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS), told Arab News.

She added that Bangladesh needs to weigh the pros and cons before finalizing such contracts so that the country can earn the “maximum benefits” from the investment.

“It will also expedite other big investments in Bangladesh from different countries,” she said.

Another energy economist, Dr. Asadujjaman, said that Bangladesh needs to exercise caution while conducting the feasibility study for such a huge investment.

“We need to address the environmental aspects, opportunity costs and other economic perspectives while working with this type of big investment. Considering the present situation, the country also needs to focus on producing more solar energy,” Dr. Asadujjaman told Arab News.