Naqshbandi: The Kingdom’s ICT sector is one of the most rapidly growing in the region
The 8th edition of the ICT Indicators Forum, held on March 29 in Riyadh, revealed that Saudi Arabia is now home to one of the world’s fastest growing ICT markets.
The forum, hosted jointly by the Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC) and International Data Corporation (IDC), featured a series of enlightening presentations and panel discussions that provided valuable insights into the current ICT market and the Kingdom’s digital transformation journey. The sessions also highlighted the impact of government initiatives on enabling digital transformation across sectors in the Kingdom.
Speaking at the event, Hamza Naqshbandi, IDC’s associate vice president for Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, described the Saudi ICT sector as one of the most rapidly growing markets in the region. “The Kingdom’s response to the pandemic was one of the strongest and most robust that any economy had to the pandemic,” said Naqshbandi. “IDC research shows that the Kingdom was way ahead of the curve in terms of its preparedness and response to the pandemic, and the pioneering Vision 2030 initiative has been a key facilitator of that success.”
The Saudi ICT sector expanded 8% between 2019 and 2021 to reach a value of $32.1 billion. IDC forecasts further year-on-year growth of 2.3% for 2022, with ICT spending set to top $32.9 billion (SAR 123.4 billion).
According to data presented by the CITC, Saudi Arabia has added 37,000 telecommunication towers since 2017, covering about 99% of the Kingdom’s area. Moreover, the value of the Saudi ICT and postal markets exceeded SAR 140 billion in 2021.
“The growth we have forecast for Saudi Arabia’s ICT sector in 2022 is particularly significant when viewed in a regional context,” continued Naqshbandi. “And this is feeding into a broader global trend, with IDC forecasting that worldwide ICT spending will increase from $3.86 trillion (SAR 14.48 trillion) in 2021 to $5.34 trillion (SAR20.03 trillion) in 2025.”
Another noted speaker at the event was Steven Frantzen, IDC’s senior vice president and managing director for the EMEA region, who urged businesses to prepare for the future, the role they will play in it, and the impact they want to achieve.
“Digital is now a permanent, yet dynamic fixture in our world,” said Frantzen. “Entire industries want to intelligently leverage data to their advantage and can do so because they have faster access to digital technologies. But ‘digital first’ isn’t about picking/prioritizing a particular technology or business model — it’s an organizational aspiration and a desired business cultural characteristic that should apply across customer engagement, hybrid work, unified security, remote operations, and shared business value.”
Frantzen also moderated a VIP panel discussion, titled ‘The Building Blocks of Saudi Arabia’s Digital Economy – What to Expect in the Hyper-Connected Digital-First Kingdom’. The session showcased valuable insights and perspectives from a number of Saudi Arabia’s most respected ICT leaders, including Salman Faqeeh, managing director of Cisco Saudi Arabia; Rasheed A. Al-Odah, country managing director at Trend Micro; Ziad Mortaja, CEO of MIS; and Eng. Majid Alotaibi, chief business officer at Mobily.
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