Partnerships with international organizations
There are many international organizations that have activie coppertion relations and agreements with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Among those are the Gulf Cooperation Council, League of Arab States, Organization of Islamic Cooperation, G20, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and others. In addition, among those there are many private sector companies all around the world. This is a firm policy of partnerships and cooperation.
DGA of Saudi Arabia has adopted a policy of encouraging cooperation and collaboration in suitable forms as a partnership for digital transformation development. Recognizing the value of such partnership and collaboration, its policy in this regard is to maintain ongoing modernization of administrations’ systems in all sectors and forms, which are crucial elements of Vision 2030. The policy scope includes directives to improve regulations, establish an effective partnership with telecommunications operators, and support local investment in the ICT sector. Increasing administrative transparency and accountability across all sectors and engaging citizens and the private sector through outreach are also important elements of Vision 2030.
Note: it is interesting to check Saudi Arabia’s digital transformation and collaborative regulation in this latest Country review.
United Nations diverse organizations
The long-standing cooperation between Saudi Arabia and UN ESCWA in digital transformation has been active and effective. Although in the past few years, the main scope of cooperation was supporting the ongoing digital activities with ESCWA relating to member countries, DGA has adopted closer cooperation related to digital transformation and e-government. Although partnership between UN ESCWA and the Kingdom covers other areas, nevertheless in technology it is a long-standing collaboration for a long time.
Early in 2022 the Digital Government Authority (DGA) in Saudi Arabia has launched an Inclusive Government Program to provide integrated digital services to the government sector. The aim is to accelerate sustainable digital government transformation and increase data sharing among the government agencies to achieve integration. The objective is to provide a better digital experience for the beneficiary through unified platforms and applications, in addition to developing and operating comprehensive government platforms through a set of technologies that enable the authorities to develop, exchange and link services without the need to redesign, test and run the same platforms. DGA followed the assessment methodology of ESCWA’s Government Electronic and Mobile Services Maturity Index (GEMS), and scored the best rank, (Rank #1). The index measures the maturity of government services provided through e-portals and smart applications in various sectors, including education, justice, finance, business, and tourism.
A new challenging cooperation program (Unified Development Vision for Arab LDCs in the 2021-2030 Decade) is launched between Saudi Arabia and ESCWA, with support from Saudi Arabia, to launch the first regional dialogue on the new program of action for Arab least developed countries (LDCs) up to 2030. Although this program covers many sectors, but it is clear that digital transformation and digital governance is a significant part of development for countries like Mauritania, Somalia, the Sudan and Yemen, Libya, Iraq and Palestine. This is planned to be discussed at the Fifth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries (LDC5) planned for Doha, Qatar on 5-9 March, 2023. The project is outlined in a report as an ESCWA Publication (E/ESCWA/CL6.GCP/2020/1) that can be found here.
As an example of successful partnership has been, DGA is partnered with the United Nations University Operating Unit on Policy-Driven Electronic Governance (UNU-EGOV), for professional digital governance development. This partnership is progressing successfully as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) is in the midst of a massive socio-economic transformation. The Vision 2030 transformation program promotes comprehensive transformation of the public sector, improved user-centricity, efficient and effective service delivery, and production. The ongoing digital transformation of the Saudi public sector, the Digital Government Authority (DGA) works to improve the accessibility, user-centric, effectiveness and quality of public service delivery in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA). In this regard it adopted a continuous assessment using different measurements and indicators including United Nations e-Government Development Index EGDI, in addition to improvement cycles. Through this, DGA is able to identify areas of possible improvement. KSA has made substantial progress in recent years, moving from 105th position in 2003 to 43rd position in 2020, and lately to 31st in 2022. The ambition of Vision 2030 and Saudi authorities is nonetheless higher and aim to provide world-class services online by the end of the decade.
DGA has endorsed close communication and coordination for, workshops and studies with the Division for Public Institutions and Digital Government (DPIDG) of UNDESA. As its mission is to assist the Member States of the United Nations in advancing the implementation of the UN Sustainable Development of 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals, including through fostering effective, efficient, transparent, accountable, inclusive and innovative public governance, administration and services for sustainable development.
Cooperation has been successful, yielding results that are beneficial and useful. In one year, the progress in partnership project showed good results as Saudi Arabia EGDI ranking jumped for 43 to 31. What is important about this project is that the DGA team as well as partners in all other government entities have gained not only experience but ability to think and innovate new ways of enhancing their respective portals for reflecting digital transformation and facilitate online services.
Partnership with the World Bank regarding digital transformation has been well defined and supported focusing on specific needs. This partnership ranged from simple small activities such as a study to much larger and ambitions projects.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, represented by the Saudi Data and Artificial Intelligence Authority (SDAIA), has joined the World Bank’s Digital Development Partnership (DDP) – a collaborative public and private partnership to help developing countries leverage digital innovations to solve some of the most challenging issues.
As a new member of the DDP, Saudi Arabia will contribute to the overall digital development agenda of the Partnership to enable the sustainable growth of developing countries and support them in defining and activating national digital strategies and policies to achieve common international goals, including bridging the gap between developed and developing countries, and help in financing, encouraging, developing and adapting data and artificial intelligence technologies to serve all of humanity.
As an example a study titled “Saudi Arabia’s Digital and distance Education: Overview” with its summary provides an overview of the relationship between education and digital transformation in the country. This was a study in cooperation with the Saudi Ministry of with support from digital transformation support. Another significant generic report is that of “ICT and Sustainability in Saudi Arabia Annual Sustainability Report” that was published by the Ministry. This report was established as a reference for sustainability in the Information, aims to educate readers on the many facets of sustainability: environmental, social and economic. It also details how technology impacts progress and serves as a periodic transparency tool whereby readers are provided updates on vital initiatives.
International Telecommunication Union
Global AI Readiness Framework
The initiative, led by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and supported by the Saudi Data and Artificial Intelligence Authority (SDAIA), agreed to create an AI readiness framework. This will be in fact a set of frameworks in key socio-economic domains that explores countries' readiness & international collaboration on artificial intelligence to facilitate sharing of best practices. Global AI Readiness Frameworks for key socio-economic domains such as health and smart mobility could help countries adapt best practices in their use of AI necessary for countries to harness AI’s full potential.
ITU shares best practices in the field of AI with the Kingdom. This helps in shedding light on how to sponsor and support emerging companies and new incubators in the national space, especially as there is no official framework that currently exists to support the AI readiness of countries and international cooperation. Such projects and initiatives will accelerate progress toward achieving sustainable development goals and promoting AI as a force for good.
ITU conducted a survey of the Saudi Arabia’s digital transformation and collaborative regulation which updated current status as per ITU assessment. ITU and CITC partnered to support the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to unlock the digital economy potential, enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of digital ICT infrastructure including using, managing, and monitoring of radio frequency spectrum, establishing Radio Regulatory Framework for space services, developing strategies/plans for use of ICTs as enabler for socio-economic development and regulations, identifying the potential impacts on standard development and priorities for ICT networks and standardization and developing requirements for ICT network resilience and recovery as well as developing guidelines for ICT service providers of critical national telecommunications infrastructure.
Protection of Children in Cyberspace
A strategic partnership agreement was signed between the National Cybersecurity Authority (NCA) and ITU to launch a global program to protect children in cyberspace. The empowerment and protection of children in cyberspace is a top priority for the Saudi government. A comprehensive global program was worked jointly, hoping to have an impact on increasing international cooperation to enhance the
Alibaba Smart Cloud
SDAIA also signed an MoU with China's Alibaba Cloud, to jointly develop digital and AI solutions in areas including safety and security, mobility, urban planning, energy, education, and health. A joint venture as Saudi Cloud Computing Company (SCCC) is offering cutting-edge cloud computing services to meet the increasing demand by businesses and government entities. Alibaba Cloud Services will assist Saudi Arabia with its vision of 2030 accelerating the kingdom's digital transformation by providing the necessary digital infrastructure and Services.
The partnership will leverage Alibaba Cloud's AI platform in Saudi Arabia's cities, enabling intelligent management of city services and other smart solutions for citizens. It will deliver essential cloud services to overcome the limitation of local cloud providers in Saudi Arabia. These services include Computing, Storage, Networking, Security, Databases, and Operations & Maintenance Services. The Saudi Cloud Computing Company (SCCC) has announced the launch of its services in Saudi Arabia in the culmination of choosing Riyadh as a regional hub for Alibaba Cloud operations.
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