ICT is a key ingredient of the Kingdom’s efforts to overcome the financial effects of the oil crisis and transform into a knowledge-based economy.
February 25, 2016, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia – Fears over the oil crisis are not hindering the Saudi government from pursuing ambitious plans for the future development of the Kingdom. The Ministry of Finance’s summary of economic developments for 2015-2016 shows that while the oil sector has declined, non-oil sectors will see growth of 8.37 percent this year. These include the IT sector, which will be worth an estimated 35.9 billion USD.
The high level of IT spending and technology adoption is unsurprising in a country where the median age is 26.8 years. The Saudi population is youth-heavy, tech-savvy, and increasingly accustomed to the conveniences of the digital age – and the government is rapidly developing its services to cater more effectively to them. Smart technology, smart cities and e-services – including cloud, big data analytics, mobile services and autonomously connected devices – are increasingly finding traction within the Kingdom. The Saudi government sector is expected to grow 14.57 percent in 2016, with e-Government and Smart Government taking the center stage.
The 2nd National e-Government Action Plan will end in 2016, with the 3rd phase slated to begin 2017 and last until 2021. This represents the government’s commitment to pursuing a future where smart services will help improve the lives of citizens and businesses, increase efficiency, and promote more streamlined interactions between government agencies and the overall community.
In view of these developments, the Saudi Ministry of Communications and information technology (MCIT) represented by the e-Government Program (Yesser) is endorsing the 7th Annual Kingdom Smart Government Summit, taking place on May 9th – 10th at Al Faisaliah Hotel in Riyadh. Over 150 government decision makers will gather to discuss the future of Smart Government in Saudi Arabia and procure the latest solutions and services for their current and upcoming projects.
Dr. Abdulrahman Al Orainy, Adviser to the Saudi Minister of MCIT, and Director General of Yesser, believes that “The current financial turbulence has presented an opportunity to better focus on the future, which will be knowledge-driven. It is more essential than ever to embrace smart technologies as they promote both operational and financial efficiency. The Government is not just actively sourcing smart solutions, but also encouraging ICT investments given its potential to be a key economic growth enabler. The upcoming summit will help communicate our vision better and align all our plans accordingly”.
The summit is organized by multinational business facilitator Naseba. The summit’s director Naveen Bharadwaj said “Despite the annual budget deficit, the Saudi government plans to spend 224 billion USD in 2016. A big chunk of this will go towards ICT given the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques’ emphasis on utilisation of technology for the delivery of government services. We are delighted to partner with Yesser again and are committed to supporting the Kingdom’s development plans by providing a high level knowledge-sharing, networking and business platform.”