Ibrahim Almojel, CEO, Saudi Industrial Development Fund (SIDF)
Saudi Arabia encourages investment and industrial competitiveness
In this Global Platform video, Ibrahim Almojel, CEO of Saudi Industrial Development Fund (SIDF), talks about the historic change taking place as cheap labour is replaced by automation, and Saudi Arabia works to become a pioneering manufacturing powerhouse and global logistics centre. To help reach this goal, SIDF will focus on increasing capital, expanding coverage and diversifying its range of products. Under Vision 2030, SIDF will also grow the contribution of SMEs and increase emphasis on energy efficiency and renewables.
The global supply chain is changing. We're witnessing a historic change as cheap labour is losing to automation and scale is losing to customisation. This redesign of competitiveness gives a great opportunity for countries like Saudi Arabia as we embark on becoming a pioneering manufacturing hub. Vision 2030 aims to transform Saudi Arabia based on three pillars: our ability to invest, our strong economic depth and our strategic location. The Vision includes 13 programmes, the largest of which is the National Industrial Development and Logistics Programme (NIDLP). For NIDLP to succeed, we look towards the private sector to play the leading role. We've identified opportunities in each of the four sectors under NIDLP. For example, in logistics, we've highlighted four special economic zones and identified the concept of a logistical hub. In manufacturing, we've created a package, worth SAR45bn ($12bn) for automotive manufacturing. We created a similar package for advanced pharmaceuticals and for chemical conversions. SIDF's goal is to be the financial engine behind the transformation of the Kingdom into a pioneering manufacturing powerhouse and a global logistical hub. It means to us three main changes. First, increase in capital. Our own dry power has to be increased. And over the last two years, we increase from SAR45bn ($12bn) to SAR65bn ($17.3bn) and now to SAR45bn ($12bn) of capital. Second, we expanded our coverage from focusing on manufacturing to include mining, logistics and energy, and expanded the products we offer from senior secured project finance to offering products across the capital structure. Now we're playing a more proactive role in reaching out to the investors, but also in shaping the ecosystem at large. Saudi should be the first choice for foreign investors coming into the region. It's the largest economy in MENA and one of the G20. To enable those investments, especially the higher-value-added investments, Saudi government is setting a lot of incentives to increase its competitiveness, for both Saudi and international investors alike. We have five competitive advantages: regulatory, currency, infrastructure, financing and location. Regulatory, we have SAGIA providing foreign investors licenses for 100% ownership and leading an effort through the Ministry of Commerce to improve ease of doing business in the Kingdom. Second, Saudi has a very free monetary policy allowing the flow of money in and out and a stable currency relative to the dollar. Third, we have a state-of-the-art infrastructure being built by Royal Commission of Jubail and Yanbu and the MODON Industrial City Authority, effectively a “plug and play” provided at minimal cost to the investor. On financing SIDF supports the investor from the project finance throughout the life of the project. We provide up to 75% financing to international and local partners coming to the Kingdom, effectively putting the government as a partner. And fifth, our location, our export authority worked on improving our accessibility to the larger markets around. and supports the export activities of our industrial players with a newly created Exim Bank. We already launched a pilot and supported more than a billion dollars in loans for the Exim Bank. The Kingdom has shown its commitment to the environmental goals as clear from the Paris Agreement. We have a covenant in every loan that we give to maintain a certain level of environmental standards and we are nudging our clients to invest further in energy efficiency by providing a combined advisory and financing project. For renewables, and we're here mostly focused on wind and solar, we support it in two ways. First in the manufacturing of renewables and second in the use. For manufacturing for renewable equipment, we treat them as strategic sectors thus qualifying for 75% financing of capex. On the use of renewables, we just launched in September 2019 a product to finance the use of renewables at the commercial scale. For example, we provide debt to renewables used as a commercial scale whether it's a factory to reduce its own electricity demand or even a commercial building looking to do peak shaving through renewables, SIDF finances that from 50% to 75%. The health of the SME sector is essential for any global economy hence in Vision 2030, we aim to grow the contribution of SMEs to be 35% of GDP. We created a new programme called Aafaq, which helps to move SMEs from being small to medium and medium to large by giving advantageous financing, focusing and curated to their needs by giving cash injection and helping them on their cash cycle. We partnered with Monshaat, the SME authority and Badir, their government incubator to support entrepreneurs coming with ideas. We hope that will help them grow even faster and move from being small to medium and medium to large.