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KUWAIT - Telecoms & IT

Ammar Alhusaini

Acting Director General, Central Agency for Information Technology (CAIT)

Bio

Ammar Alhusaini is currently the acting director general of CAIT in Kuwait. Before joining CAIT, he was the assistant vice president for information technology of Kuwait University (KU) and an assistant professor in its computer engineering department. He was also director of Kuwait Cultural Office at the Kuwait Embassy in Australia, director general of the Information Center at the Ministry of Education, and the director of the Guidance and Counselling Office at the College of Engineering and Petroleum Kuwait University. Alhusaini was recognized among the winners of the CIO50 Awards Middle East 2024 and among the Top 10 of the winners. He holds a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering from Kuwait University and a master’s and PhD degree in computer engineering from the University of Southern California in the US.

"As part of the government’s digital transformation strategy, CAIT and other entities are tasked with developing key initiatives."

Ammar Alhusaini, Acting Director General of the Central Agency for Information Technology (CAIT), talks to TBY about the role the agency plays in spearheading DT initiatives across Kuwait, serving as a catalyst for innovation and progress in the digital landscape.

What are the key objectives and priorities of CAIT?

Digital transformation and IT are critical components of the Kuwaiti government’s agenda, and CAIT serves as a catalyst for innovation and progress in the digital landscape. Working in tandem with industry leaders like Google, Microsoft, and Huawei, CAIT allocates substantial resources to develop shared services aimed at enhancing governmental operations and citizen services. Underpinning our digital endeavors is the vision to provide comprehensive access to government services through omni-government digital channels. The Sahel app exemplifies this vision by offering a unified platform for accessing all government services and information, setting a benchmark for digital service delivery in the region. A cornerstone of our digital transformation roadmap is the development of robust infrastructure to support digital services. Our strategic projects include the Kuwait Information Network, a private and secure government network, and a Government Centre of Excellence for Cloud Computing dedicated to advancing cloud adoption among government entities through multi-cloud hyper-scale offerings. Additionally, in 2022 we signed a Google Cloud Alliance Framework Agreement whereby Kuwait will be part of Google’s data center network internationally. Kuwait is committed to utilizing Google Cloud services for the coming seven years to accelerate digital transformation in national projects. One such project comprises building the government’s data exchange layer. Our strategic partnership with Microsoft underscores our dedication to advancing digital transformation with the recent contract renewal, shifting the focus from licenses to services to fast-tracking digital transformation, and through various initiatives. Notable among these are MASAR initiative, the establishment of a Center of Excellence for Digital Productivity and Zero Trust program demonstrate our commitment to leveraging cutting-edge solutions for digital transformation.

What specific initiatives or programs is CAIT undertaking to raise overall awareness in Kuwait?

In addition to our efforts to drive digital transformation, enhancing cybersecurity across government entities is a top priority. We have implemented multiple initiatives aimed at fortifying the security of governmental bodies, including the Zero Trust program in partnership with Microsoft. This initiative focuses on adopting a proactive approach to cybersecurity, ensuring continuous verification and validation of user identities and device security. To further bolster cybersecurity awareness and readiness, we conduct weekly sessions with key security stakeholders that serve as a platform for sharing insights, best practices, and emerging threats, enabling government entities to stay vigilant and proactive in mitigating cybersecurity risks. The government of Kuwait has also established the National Cybersecurity Center (NCSC) that serves as the primary regulator and supervisor of all cybersecurity activities in the nation, ensuring a cohesive and coordinated approach to cybersecurity governance. Concurrently, CAIT collaborates closely with NCSC to oversee cybersecurity within the government sector, facilitating alignment with national cybersecurity objectives and standards. Furthermore, we have entered into strategic partnerships with industry leaders such as Google, Mandiant, and Accenture to enhance cybersecurity capabilities across government entities.

What current projects is CAIT spearheading to advance the government’s capabilities?

As part of the government’s digital transformation strategy, CAIT and other entities are tasked with developing key initiatives. We leverage partnerships with tech companies to implement crucial cybersecurity and cloud services. By utilizing agreements with vendors such as Google and Microsoft, we prioritize and expedite our digital goals. We are committed to a multi-vendor, cloud-first approach, as endorsed by CITRA, ensuring diversity in service provision. To support this, CAIT is actively facilitating the establishment of data centers by international firms in Kuwait, as seen with Google, and similar discussions with Microsoft and Huawei are ongoing. At an infrastructure level, we are focusing on improving our private network to build our national data center, where a sovereign cloud will be hosted. A multi-hybrid model will be used in cooperation with hyper-scalers. We are also focusing on providing shared services and shared infrastructure to government entities where those solutions are centrally hosted and operated. Digitalizing government services is our top priority, and our goal is to digitalize more than 90% of government services in the coming years.

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