His Excellency the Minister of Communications and Information Technology, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Communications and Information Technology Commission, Eng. Abdullah bin Amer Al-Sawaha, has delivered Saudi Arabia’s speech at the International Telecommunication Union’s (ITU) Plenipotentiary Conference (PP22), held in Bucharest, Romania. Addressing the first main session of the conference, Al-Sawaha outlined the Kingdom’s work to pursue the strategic goals of the ITU and ensure a sustainable digital future for all – drawing particular attention to the major achievements in the domestic and global digital arena carried out in collaboration with the ITU over the last four years.
Al-Sawaha highlighted the Kingdom’s progress towards a digital economy, detailing a USD 3 billion incentive package that supported the connection of 3.5 million houses to the optical fiber network (FTTH). Some of the top achievements highlighted by the Minister included Saudi Arabia’s top ten global rankings in internet speed and penetration, top three ranking globally in the digital divide (scoring less than 1%), and the Kingdom’s second placing among G20 countries in spectrum allocation.
Turning to digitalization and society, His Excellency drew attention to Saudi Arabia’s growing resource of digital skills and capabilities, where ICT jobs increased from 150K to 318k over the past four years to form region's largest pool of digital talent. Moreover, women's participation in the digital field has exceeded 30.5%, higher than the EU, G20, and Silicon Valley averages.
Al-Sawaha revealed that digital entrepreneurship has tripled in the Kingdom, with this year’s venture capital financing exceeding the total value of the previous three years. Saudi Arabia has presented three unicorn companies to the region, while this year women's participation in digital entrepreneurship reached a level three times higher than previous score.
Looking to the future, Al-Sawaha described the many ways in which the Kingdom is harnessing technology and innovation to create smart cities, the foremost example being THE LINE that forms part of the NEOM project. THE LINE is a civilizational revolution that puts humans first, with no carbon emissions and 95% of land preserved for nature. It will also be the location of Saudi Arabia’s world-scale, green-hydrogen-based ammonia production facility – a USD 5 billion project that reflects the Kingdom’s commitment to maintaining its leading position in the field of renewable energy.
Al-Sawaha concluded his speech by conveying the Kingdom's pride in its 57-year membership of the ITU. He stressed Saudi Arabia’s determination to continue its efforts to support the Union’s initiatives, consultation groups, committees and councils through its presidency, membership or sponsorship, in order to reinforce the ITU’s promotion of increased coordination and standardization in the digital world, to empower humanity and enable a prosperous future for all.