Nasser Al Nasser, CEO, STC Group
Saudi Arabia cements its place at the forefront of the digital transformation
In this Global Platform video, Nasser Al Nasser, CEO of STC Group, talks about how digital transformation is at the core of Saudi Arabia’s overarching development strategies, including Vision 2030. He underlines how innovations such as internet of things and artificial intelligence will revolutionise many aspects of life, from industry to urban infrastructure. The Saudi government has responded to this in several ways, not least by awarding more spectrum to telecoms operators and expanding the fibre-optic network. However, al Nasser also underlines that joined-up cybersecurity is a key priority.
The whole country is going through a huge transformation. If we look at the 2030 Vision and the 2020 transformation plan, the digital is at the core of that transformation. Across many industries there are multiple changes and transformations being carried out. If you look at the telecom industry, it has been globally under a challenge and the trend now is going from traditional to digital players.
We are well-equipped to unleash that potential and to serve Vision 2030. IoT globally is becoming the norm of the enablement of Industry 4.0, where the number of IoT devices between 2025 and 2030 is ranging between 30 to 50bn. We believe that this will radically not only transform the telecom business itself, but will transform other industries, enable automation, enable smart cities with their smart homes, smart parking, AVLs, automatic vehicle locations, all types of industrial and cities applications.
Today with the proliferation of the IoT, this brings its own challenges on cybersecurity. It is not a luxury to have cybersecurity at the core of the attention. We believe that it's a challenge but an opportunity at the same time. If we look at how cybersecurity is being improved through artificial intelligence, this is a new opportunity. Artificial intelligence alone is expected to have by 2030 more than $16trn of added value.
Today, the OTT play is a de facto. So it is a challenge that's being put on the telco provider, so the only way for the telco provider to thrive is to accept that challenge and to grow beyond the conventional and traditional services. As part of the National Transformation Plan, NTP 2020, there is a huge plan to invest in the fixed infrastructure. Today, one of the challenges in Saudi Arabia is that these hungry applications are consuming a lot of bandwidth. The government under the NTP has triggered two actions in parallel. One of them is to award more spectrum to the operators. The other one, there is a new fibre set-up in the country.
We were lagging behind but as part of the 2020 National Transformation Plan there will be more than 2m households served by 2020 by high-speed fibre. Having more spectrum in the wireless domain, coupled with more fixed infrastructure, will relieve the networks and will add better services and better speeds. The conventional and traditional services of the telecom industry have been challenged. This is not only regional, this is globally. There are huge digitisation efforts associated with Vision 2030 and we believe that the IoT, artificial intelligence, cloud, together complemented by a cybersecurity ecosystem, will be the main driver for Vision 2030.