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SAUDI ARABIA - Telecoms & IT

Ahmed bin Muhammad Al-Suwayan

Governor, Digital Government Authority (DGA)

Bio

Ahmed bin Muhammad Al-Suwayan has been Governor of DGA since 2021. He has leadership skills backed by a scientific and professional background with more than 16 years of experience in business development and ICT, during which he held leadership positions in the public and private sectors and has extensive experience in transformational programs that turn complex business requirements into innovative solutions. He majored in business administration and computer science, and received several academic degrees in creativity, innovation, and building high-performance teams, with contributions to many of the government’s recent digital transformation achievements.

"DGA is the national reference for all digital government related activities."
DGA is working to position Saudi Arabia amongst the top leading digital governments globally and develop the governance of digital government platforms.
What is DGA’s mission, vision, and mandate?

DGA is the national reference for all digital government related activities. It aims to regulate digital government activities in the government entities, in order to achieve a proactive digital government capable of providing highly efficient digital services and achieve integration amongst government entities. Today, 97% of all government services are provided digitally. DGA launched the strategic directions of the National Digital strategy on March 9, 2022, after approval from the board of directors. The strategy was developed by DGA in coordination with the relevant partners to achieve our aspirations for the digital government as defined in our Vision to become a “pioneering digital government for an enabled, and vibrant nation,” and by our mission to “achieve seamless and integrated digital government services by leveraging the value of technologies and placing beneficiaries at the heart of the delivery.” This will be achieved in two phases. The first aims to build the digital government of the future by accelerating its growth and enforcing governance and regulation, while the second phase aims to achieve excellence in digital government services and reach global leadership in international indicators and standings.

Could you walk us through the foundations of digital transformation in KSA?

Saudi Arabia’s digital government transformation began in the 1970s, far before the establishment of DGA, back when the National Information Center (NIC) was established. Afterwards in the early 1980s the unified Digital ID was created, which is considered today the foundational identity key providing access throughout all digital platforms. Shortly after, many initiatives and projects were implemented, such as the establishment of the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT) as well as the Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC), among others. In terms of products and services, in 2004 SADAD Payment System was launched and served as the first national electronic bill presentment and payment (EBPP) service provider for Saudi Arabia. Today, we are well developed and are one of the few countries where invoices are paid via online banking. Services and utilities can easily be reached online, regardless of the service provider, it is unified and integrated amongst government entities. We have developed the regulatory framework, guidelines and initiatives to reach our future aspirations. Regarding the ICT sector, it aims to enhance the telecom market efficiency, promote local content, and develop digital capabilities. Increasing 4G and 5G coverage, fiber-optic networks, and other tech products and services. Our objective is to improve the quality of life for Saudi citizens, to ensure the beneficiary’s satisfaction throughout his digital journey and experience and to offer a competitive advantage to enterprises, as well as ease of doing business when dealing with the government. In addition, we also seek to improve ease of doing business within Saudi, as well leverage available capabilities in order to improve the competitiveness of the private sector. Saudi Arabia has achieved several global achievements, such as ranking first in the Middle East and North Africa region for e-services availability for citizens and business sectors in the Government Electronic and Mobile Services Maturity Index (GEMS) issued by the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA).

What specific initiatives will streamline your operations?

One of our main initiatives is to strengthen our relationship with the private sector. We work continuously to ease and improve access to public procurement through open tendering, providing equal opportunities, and working with government agencies to explore new firms and companies that are entering the market. We are working in a better classification of contractors and opening the Saudi market for global firms to operate and work in our country. We are also promoting cloud services and securing the data centers of the government agencies. DGA has launched a program entitled GovTech that aims to pave the way for an innovative government future by supporting all government agencies with the adoption of emerging technologies in their products and services.

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