Saudi Arabia's IT sector is booming, and set to increase
Saudi Arabia has become one of the fastest growing IT markets in the Middle East region and is set to account for around 50 per cent of the GCC region’s total ICT investments by year end, said a report.
The government organisations are among the largest IT service providers in the Kingdom, according to a report by RNCOS, a research solutions company released at the ongoing 'Third Annual e-Government Summit' organised by business information company naseba in Riyadh.
With 22 objectives with 46 supporting initiatives, the Second National e-Government Action Plan is a fully formed project able to take the Kingdom’s e-Government performance to the next level, said the experts at the summit.
There are four strategic themes to the new plan – build a susta'inable e-Government workforce, improve the experience of the public in their interactions with government, develop a culture of collaboration, and improve government efficiency – all resulting in the efficient and immediate delivery of services and goods to Saudi citizens, they added.
Mamdouh Khawaji, the vice president (IT) at Saudi Economic and Development Company (Sedco) pointed out at the need to create public awareness on e-Government initiatives.
Speaking at the summit, Khawaji said, “United Nations defines e-Government as the employment of the Internet for delivering government information and services to the citizens: Hence citizens are a key component of this service.”
With the implementation of the Second National Plan, the Government also hopes to increase collaboration with private companies as a way to ease project workload and to further develop Saudi Arabia’s economy by creating jobs, he added.
On the first day, the summit discussed case study on countries such as Singapore who have adopted public-private partnerships (PPP). It was led by industry leader Dr Abdulaziz AlMulhelm, the deputy assistant minister and CIO of Planning at the Saudi Ministry of Culture and Information.
He cited how constraints on resources – coupled with wealth in the private sector and bureaucracy in the public sector – means PPP is a much needed tool to facilitate opportunities such as jointly owning technology or services.
He concluded by saying “e-Government means the engagement of people, government and PPPs – which creates people-public partnerships – it is the people who are the most important.”
Alexander Zarovsky, the international business chief at InfoWatch, led a panel discussion on national digital information traffic monitoring, data loss prevention, social media monitoring and other topics.
Zarovsky said the timing of the summit was crucial as more than 92 per cent of IT security incidents are now related to personal data such as credit card numbers, bank accounts and personal emails which can lead to company-level hacking.
He pointed out that compliance and risk management were the leading drivers for the national programme and said "this summit allows us all to come together and discuss these issues."
The summit also discussed digital security threats and solutions, e-Participation – which involves connecting people and politics through the internet – and a panel discussion on effective ways to implement e-Government interoperability
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