Saudi Arabia has been ranked second globally among the G20 countries in the Digital Competitiveness Report for the year 2021 issued by the European Center for Digital Competitiveness, which based its findings on data provided by the Global Competitiveness Index issued by the World Economic Forum, and the supporting data provided by the World Bank and the International Telecommunication Union.
The Kingdom advanced 20 ranks in the general index compared to the previous year and 86 ranks in the digital ecosystem axis, topping the G20 countries, and achieved third place in the digital capabilities axis among G20 countries. This progress consolidates the Kingdom's continuous digital leadership and its permanent preservation of progress in various indicators.
This achievement emanates from the support, empowerment, and guidance of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and HRH Crown Prince to the ICT sector over the past years. It also reflects the qualitative leaps made by the Kingdom in the telecommunications infrastructure, digital capabilities development, and mega digital projects, and is the result of the ICT sector strategy 2023, which is derived from the Kingdom's Vision 2030.
The report measures the achievements and steps taken by the Kingdom from 2018 until 2020, through several criteria through two axes. The first relates to the digital transformation ecosystem, in terms of venture capital investments, ease of business performance, and digital capabilities, while the second axis includes the readiness to adopt digital transformation and innovation, in terms of the digital capabilities of the workforce, readiness for entrepreneurial risks, broadband penetration, and enterprises innovative ideas.
The report’s data includes developing digital capabilities and attracting foreign investments and international companies to enhance digital and technological knowledge. The main objectives of the communications and information technology sector include creating more than 25,000 new jobs in this sector, boosting the size of the IT market and emerging technologies by 50 percent, and growing the contribution of the communications sector and information technology in the gross domestic product by more than $13 billion over five years and an increase in women's participation in the sector by 50 percent.
The second axis is concerned with legislation and regulations through the support of the Saudi Data and Artificial Intelligence Authority "SDAYA" for innovation and digital transformation in the Kingdom, which contributes to achieving the Kingdom's Vision 2030 through the use of big data, in addition to approving the establishment of the Digital Government Authority that helps create digital interactions and electronic services between citizens, the government and the business sector.
It also worked to implement the third action plan in the national strategy for digital transformation, which covers the period 2020-2024, which aims to achieve a smart government in the country. While the third axis was about investment, which included the Kingdom's continued investment in its digital infrastructure, through the deployment of 5G networks and the construction of 6,500 new cell towers.