Interview: Ali Majed Al Mansoori
Which sectors have been identified as areas that require greater investment and more active participation from the private sector?
ALI MAJED AL MANSOORI: Parallel to the continuing expansion of the emirate’s primary economic segments of oil and gas, the focus will be on developing other industries that are expected to grow at an aggregate annual rate exceeding 7.5%, helping the emirate realise its desired balance in non-oil trade by 2028.
In particular, Abu Dhabi Vision 2030 has targeted segments with a global focus, including oil and gas, chemicals, metals, aviation, hotels and health care equipment. Several other sectors are being targeted with a regional focus, including transportation, education, media, financial services and ICT.
To develop these focus sectors, Abu Dhabi is steadily enhancing other domestic industries, which will act as enablers, particularly construction and engineering, machinery, electrical equipment, construction materials, and food and beverage. It is clear that each of the focus sectors needs support from at least one of these industries, and that support is being provided from the private sector.
Indeed, our approach has been successful and is reflected in the government’s announcement in 2012 that it intends to re-energise a considerable list of government-led projects in the tourism, infrastructure and transportation sectors, as well as a government initiative launched in early 2013 to approve the allocation of Dh330bn ($89.8bn) for development projects over the next five years.
That is in addition to another endorsement of more than Dh15bn ($4.09bn) to further advance work at a number of key projects related to housing, health, roads and electricity. A considerable share of the allocations outlined in these initiatives will be directed to the private sector, which is a key partner in ongoing development plans. This will boost private sector participation and help to maintain a balance among the different regions of Abu Dhabi.
What is being done to enhance the technical and innovation capabilities of small and mediumsized enterprises (SMEs)?
AL MANSOORI: Increasing the technical and innovative capabilities of all companies, including SMEs, is vital, and something that is being simultaneously addressed on the strategic and tactical levels in close collaboration with several stakeholders.
On a strategic level, an innovation governance framework has been submitted to the General Secretariat of the Executive Council for consideration. ADDED is also working with the Abu Dhabi Technology Development Committee, the Abu Dhabi Education Council, Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development and other key stakeholders to develop the proposed framework for innovation capabilities.
Once it is approved, the framework will encourage the innovation ecosystem to evolve faster, and allow for gaps in the system to be better identified and filled. We anticipate a more cohesive innovation agenda with established priorities. In particular, we expect that research and innovation funding will increase in size and have a greater focus.
On the tactical level, there are a number of initiatives designed to support innovation. The most recent is the Khalifa Fund’s Ibtikari Programme, which aims to encourage entrepreneurship through innovative ideas. At the end of a two-stage selection process, the programme identified six concepts to be incubated. ADDED provided the location for the incubator as well as regulatory support for the programme. Additional support was provided by the ICT Fund.
Furthermore, in 2015 ADDED is planning to deliver an innovation programme targeting established companies, particularly SMEs. The objectives of the programme include supporting companies to integrate innovation into their existing business strategies; develop a process that will foster innovation within the companies; and create an innovation business plan for each of the participating companies.
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