stc signs multiple MoUs to boost localization of ICT sector in Saudi Arabia 

stc signs multiple MoUs to boost localization of ICT sector in Saudi Arabia 
Emad Alaoudah, group chief shared services officer at stc. (AN Photo)
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Updated 16 March 2023

stc signs multiple MoUs to boost localization of ICT sector in Saudi Arabia 

stc signs multiple MoUs to boost localization of ICT sector in Saudi Arabia 

RIYADH: In a move to increase the production of local content, Saudi telecom service provider stc signed a number of new strategic agreements with domestic companies during the Public Investment Fund's Private Sector Forum held in Riyadh on March 14-15.  

Aimed at supporting sustainability efforts, stc signed the first agreement with Ebttikar, which provides recycling services and the preservation of raw materials.

Another deal it signed during the forum was with Holoul to provide smart solutions for conference rooms and private offices. 

"We signed the two contracts with local companies. One of the contracts is related to improving the environment through stc refurbished products. The second is related to developing an office automation environment solution, which will take us to the IoT investment. And this is really something that we will see soon. Hopefully, it will be localized and then it will go abroad," Emad Alaoudah, group chief shared services officer at stc, told Arab News. 

He explained the cooperation is an extension of the group’s efforts to support local content in the Kingdom, one of the main pillars of Saudi Vision 2030, which aims to maximize its contribution and enable it to create quality products and services. 

During the forum, stc also introduced a “partner hub” platform that will open up wider investment opportunities for suppliers while supporting the establishment of new industries and the localization of existing ones. 

"These contracts and the previous contract that I mentioned created an ecosystem today worth SR13 billion. This is the commitment that we put into the local markets since we started the Rawafed program years ago," Alaoudah said. 

Rawafed was launched in 2018 by stc with the aim of developing sustainable local content and contributing to the national gross domestic product in the information and communications technology sector. 

"Within the Rawafed program, we have created also an ecosystem where we try to localize some of the supply chains that we have in Saudi Arabia and also export it to the region and to the North of Africa," he added. 

Alaoudah stressed that they understand the importance of concerted efforts by major Saudi companies to provide opportunities that enable entrepreneurs and local small and medium enterprises to raise their efficiency, "which will reflect positively on the business sector in the Kingdom."  

He explained that stc wanted to highlight the Kingdom's ICT industry through the Rawafed program, through a series of workshops and partner hubs during the forum. 

"This program is really focused on developing the local content. This will be through four major areas. One of them is R&D (research and development). Second is developing the capability of the young generation and the ICT industry. The third will be supporting the small and medium organizations that we have. And fourth, really to localize the manufacturing inside Saudi Arabia" he said. 

In 2022, Rawafed invested SR5 billion into the national economy, raising annual domestic spending by SR13.4 billion, which contributed to the program reaching a rate of 40.75 percent in the local content development index. 


Fed comments, US crude stock build hit oil market

Fed comments, US crude stock build hit oil market
Updated 23 March 2023

Fed comments, US crude stock build hit oil market

Fed comments, US crude stock build hit oil market

LONDON: Oil prices dipped on Thursday, having hit their lowest since late 2021 earlier this week, after Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell highlighted banking sector credit risks for the world’s largest economy, while US crude stockpiles swelled.

Brent crude futures were down 54 cents, or 0.7 percent, to $76.15 a barrel at 0929 GMT, while US West Texas Intermediate crude dropped 62 cents, or 0.9%, to $70.28.

Powell said on Wednesday that banking industry stress could trigger a credit crunch, with “significant” implications for an economy that US central bank officials projected would slow even more this year than previously thought.

HIGHLIGHTS

Goldman Sachs said on Thursday that demand from China continued to surge across the commodity complex, with oil demand topping 16 million barrels per day.

The bank forecast Brent to reach $97 a barrel in the second quarter of 2024.

US crude oil stockpiles rose unexpectedly last week to their highest in nearly two years, latest data from the Energy Information Administration showed.

Crude inventories rose in the week to March 17 by 1.1 million barrels to 481.2 million barrels, the highest since May 2021. Analysts in a Reuters poll had expected a 1.6-million-barrel drop.

The dollar slid to a seven-week low against a basket of other currencies, providing a price floor for oil as a weaker greenback makes oil cheaper for holders of other currencies.

Also supportive, Goldman Sachs said on Thursday that demand from China, the world’s biggest oil importer, continued to surge across the commodity complex, with oil demand topping 16 million barrels per day.

The bank forecast Brent to reach $97 a barrel in the second quarter of 2024.


Closing bell: TASI up on rising investor confidence 

Closing bell: TASI up on rising investor confidence 
Updated 23 March 2023

Closing bell: TASI up on rising investor confidence 

Closing bell: TASI up on rising investor confidence 

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul All Share Index rose by 95.88 points, or 0.93 percent, on Thursday to close at 10,446.39, driven by a rise in investor confidence, on the first session of Ramadan. 

The MSCI Tadawul 30 Index went up by 1.01 percent to 1,423.28, while the parallel market Nomu lost 37.60 points, or 0.20 percent, to close at 19,056.84. 

The total trading turnover of the benchmark index on Thursday was SR4.4 billion ($1.17 billion).

The top performer on Thursday was Al Kathiri Holding Co. as its share prices increased by 10 percent to SR50.60. 

Some of the other major gainers on Thursday were National Medical Care Co. and Bupa Arabia for Cooperative Insurance Co., whose shares went up by 9.95 percent and 6.45 percent respectively. 

Thimar Development Holding Co. was the worst performer on Thursday as its share prices went down by 9.98 percent to SR48.25 at the closing bell. 

Another worst performer on Thursday was Al Sagr Cooperative Insurance Co. whose share prices went down by 9.41 percent to SR13.58. 

On the announcements front, Amana Cooperative Insurance Co. reported that it trimmed its losses to SR43.80 million in 2022, from SR121.40 million in 2021. However, that had no positive impact on its share prices which fell by 1.25 percent to SR9.46. 

Saudi Arabian Cooperative Insurance Co. also narrowed its losses in 2022. Compared to the SR62.6 million loss it incurred in 2021, the company trimmed its losses to SR37.2 million in 2022. As the company performed well in 2022 compared to 2021, its share prices rose by 1.90 percent to SR11.82. 

Another company that announced its financial report on Thursday was Sumou Real Estate Co. The firm’s net profit in 2022 rose to SR87.6 million, an 8 percent rise from SR81.2 million in the previous year. 

As the company’s profit increased, Sumou Real Estate Co.’s board of directors declared a 10 percent cash dividend for the second half of 2022, at SR1 per share, amounting to SR37.5 million, a bourse statement revealed. 

Sumou Real Estate Co.’s share prices remained unchanged at SR45 at the end of today’s trading session. 

Meanwhile, Saudi Top for Trading Co. also announced its financial results for 2022. The company reported a net profit of SR32.77 million for 2022, an increase of 92 percent from a net profit of SR17.09 million in the year-earlier period. Amid a rise in profit, the company’s share prices dipped 0.53 percent to SR93.

Saudi Airlines Catering Co. reported a net profit of SR257.10 million in 2022, from SR14.10 million in 2021. Driven by the increase in profit, the company’s board of directors recommended a 5 percent cash dividend, at SR0.5 per share, for 2022, amounting to SR41 million. 

Saudi Airlines Catering Co.’s massive rise in net profit was also reflected in its share price, as it went up by 5.06 percent to SR85.10.


Top officials review SFD-funded development projects in Senegal   

Top officials review SFD-funded development projects in Senegal   
Updated 23 March 2023

Top officials review SFD-funded development projects in Senegal   

Top officials review SFD-funded development projects in Senegal   

RIYADH: Top officials of Saudi Arabia and Senegal reviewed various development projects and programs funded by the Saudi Fund for Development as the African country aims to improve its social infrastructure.     

Senegal’s Minister of Infrastructure and Land Transport Mansour Fay called on SFD CEO Sultan bin Abdulrahman Al-Murshed at the fund’s headquarters in Riyadh to review the progress of work and the challenges associated with their implementation and the development of sustainable solutions for them, the Saudi Press Agency reported. 

This comes as the Kingdom is keen on pursuing development efforts in the African country through financing projects and programs that contribute to the growth of the social and economic life of the Senegalese people to achieve sustainable development in the near future. 

In addition to this, Fay was briefed on the Fund's development efforts through an introductory photo exhibition tour inside the headquarters. The Fund highlighted the most prominent development projects it finances in developing countries, and their developmental impact on the beneficiaries.  

The majority of the development projects and programs financed by the SFD fall in the social infrastructure sector in specific.   

Last December, on behalf of SFD, a rehabilitation project of the Tambacounda-Guederi road in Senegal was inaugurated by Senegalese President Macky Sall. 

The project, financed by the SFD through a soft loan of approximately $30 million, aims to rehabilitate a critical 80 km road. It will also improve roadside services, including first aid and emergency care units for individuals who have sustained injuries from road traffic accidents as well as water wells to serve travelers and residents in and around the area.    

Besides providing people and communities with increased access to vital and basic services, the development of the Tambacounda-Guederi road will improve road safety and reduce road accident fatalities.    

Given the road’s location, it will play a significant role in transforming the national economy and strengthening the infrastructure of the country’s transport sector.  

Since 1978, the SFD has funded as many as 26 projects and development programs with a total value of an estimated $447 million in Senegal. The Saudi government also provided four huge grants through the Fund with a value exceeding $19 million to contribute to the growth and prosperity of the infrastructure sectors in Senegal. 


Saudi Aramco, Samsung Electronics sign agreement to expedite Saudi Arabia’s digital transformation

Saudi Aramco, Samsung Electronics sign agreement to expedite Saudi Arabia’s digital transformation
Updated 23 March 2023

Saudi Aramco, Samsung Electronics sign agreement to expedite Saudi Arabia’s digital transformation

Saudi Aramco, Samsung Electronics sign agreement to expedite Saudi Arabia’s digital transformation

RIYADH: Global energy giant Saudi Aramco has signed a non-binding memorandum of understanding with Samsung Electronics to localize industrial 5G communication networks and facilitate the digital transformation of the Kingdom, according to a press release. 

It noted that both companies will work together to contribute to the digital transformation of various industrial sectors in the Kingdom which includes energy, petrochemical, and manufacturing. 

Aramco, with the help of Samsung Electronics, will leverage advanced 4G and 5G technologies to provide secure, fast, and reliable communication means to meet the critical requirements of businesses operating in various industries. 

The new MoU was signed by Aramco, just two months after it launched a new digital firm during the In-Kingdom Total Value Add Forum, also known as iktva. 

“We are planning to invest $1.9 billion over the next three years, making it the biggest Aramco investment in digital to date, while adding value to the Kingdom’s digital ecosystem,” said Amin Nasser, Aramco’s president, and CEO following the launch. 

FASTFACTS

Earlier in March, a report by the UN revealed that Saudi Arabia is ranked fourth globally in its level of preparedness in digital systems on the back of its sturdy regulatory framework.

Saudi Arabia is steadily continuing its digital transformation journey, in line with the goals outlined in the Kingdom’s Vision 2030.

Ahmad A. Al-Sa’adi, Aramco executive vice president of technical services, said that the launch of Aramco digital company is “a great example of innovation in action, providing state-of-the-art AI and emerging technology expertise in a vital sector of the economy.” 

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia is steadily continuing its digital transformation journey, in line with the goals outlined in the Kingdom’s Vision 2030. 

Earlier in March, a report by the UN revealed that Saudi Arabia is ranked fourth globally in its level of preparedness in digital systems on the back of its sturdy regulatory framework. 

According to the report published by the International Telecommunication Union, a UN agency that deals with information and communication technologies, the Kingdom also ranked second in digital system preparedness among the G20 members. 

In September 2022, a report published by independent analytics company OpenSignal noted that Saudi Arabia’s 5G experience is one of the best among countries in the Gulf Cooperation Council. 

The report revealed that the Kingdom recorded a 5G availability of 28.2 percent, just a few percentage points behind Bahrain and Kuwait where availability is 34.9 and 33.6 percent respectively, despite considering the fact that Saudi Arabia has a large geographical area compared to other countries in the region.

 


Egyptian firm Orascom Construction’s Q4 profit surges over 50% to $56m

Egyptian firm Orascom Construction’s Q4 profit surges over 50% to $56m
Updated 23 March 2023

Egyptian firm Orascom Construction’s Q4 profit surges over 50% to $56m

Egyptian firm Orascom Construction’s Q4 profit surges over 50% to $56m

RIYADH: Egypt’s Orascom Construction Co. saw a 50.4 percent year-on-year net profit increase in the fourth quarter of 2022, with a rise in construction operations helping the firm hit $55.8 million 

Across the whole of 2022, the Cairo-based firm its total profits rise 0.1 percent to $113.5 million, compared to $113.4 million in the same period of 2021.   

Orascom's total revenues increased by 17.9 percent to reach $4.17 billion, compared to $3.53 billion in 2021, with the increase attributed to all operating segments and its joint venture BESIX-Orascom Construction.  

It also announced $5.3 billion worth of projects in progress compared to $6.08 billion in 2021, a decline of 13.4 percent, and a pro forma backlog of $8.1 billion, including its 50 percent stake in BESIX.  

“Starting with our priority on health and safety, we recorded accomplishments at our projects in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the US such as a substantial increase in man-hours without Lost Time Injury across the board,” Osama Bishai, CEO of Orascom Construction said in a statement.  

He added that Orascom Construction took many steps to expand its investments in the renewable energy sector during the last quarter of 2022.  

The company’s consolidated earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization, or EBITDA, fell 13.8 percent year-on-year to $50.1 million in the fourth quarter of 2022, and 2.0 percent year-on-year to $200.3 million in 2022. Yet its EBITDA in the US increased 25.8 percent year-on-year in the fiscal year of 2022, showing a stronger contribution to the group’s performance.  

The company also started the preliminary works for the construction of a new wind station with a capacity of 500 megawatts on a build-own-operate basis in Egypt, which will offer clean electricity to over 800,000 homes and cut CO2 emissions by one million tons per year. 

Orascom also focused on the completion of the preliminary phase for the establishment of the first green hydrogen plant in Africa.