A typical example of an oil‐based economy, Kuwait’s oil sector contributes over one‐third of GDP and over 90 percent of exports. The idea of economic diversification for Kuwait means reducing the heavy dependency on the oil sector and the direct role of the public sector, while increasing the private sector activities and role in the overall economy.
Through Kuwait 2035 vision, the government has introduced ambitious plans to transform the country’s economy from oil-dependence into a leading regional financial, commercial and cultural hub. Several projects have already undertaken in Kuwait, with a value of more than USD 60 billion, and it is planned that further USD 100 billion will be invested by 2035. The seven pillars that it is based on are efficient government administration, diversified & sustainable economy, quality infrastructure, sustainable living environment, high quality healthcare, creative human capital and distinguished international status.
A key role in Kuwait 2035 Economic Diversification Vision will be played by ICT. Regulatory reforms are being put in place to help speed up the evolution towards a more knowledge-diversified economy. The communications sector generated KD1.294bn (US$3.92 billion) in GDP in 2015, which accounts for 5.2% of non oil GDP and 3.2% of overall GDP.
The Central Agency of Information Technology (CAIT) published a survey of National ICT indicators, based on nearly 30,000 interviews. The survey showed that Kuwait’s computer penetration rate is 60%, and if smartphones are included the internet penetration is among the highest in the world reaching 98%. Kuwait citizens are inclined to conduct transactions online, as the survey showed, 81% pay bills, 65% use internet banking, 66% booking travels, 64% buying products and 45% ordering groceries. Sabah Al Ghunaim, the Chairman of Automated Service Network Company stated that this explosion of mobile accessibility has changed the market, and it is expected that the public will be able to access services easily and quickly from where they are.
The World Economic Forums’ “Global Information Technology Report 2016”, together with INSEAD Business School and Cornell University in the US, uses 53 indicators to rank 139 countries. The report’s network Readiness Index showed that Kuwait rose 11 places and is now placed 61st. The country ranked first in mobile coverage, second in mobile subscriptions and broadband, and 14th for the number of households having personal computers. Kuwait has improved its Internet bandwidth per user, and placed 51st in this category, jumping 50 places from previous years, according to data from the UN’s International Telecommunications Union.
Technology is also one of the core focus areas of 2035 Kuwait Vision. Fibre optic networks, a key technology in the telecommunication sector, will play a fundamental role in the advancement of Kuwait 2035 Vision. Aimed at linking Kuwaiti residents and public with the private entities, the GCC country’s Ministry of Communications is currently installing fibre optic networks spread in a three-phase programme. At present, around 122 homes have deployed the technology as phase 1 and 2 progress, with future plans include an expansion of another 120 homes from various governorates in Kuwait.
Director General of Kuwait’s Central Agency for Information Technology, Qusai Al-Shatti, told the country’s state-held Kuna that fibre optics technology was an important tool to measure economic success, describing it as vital to the rise of internet of things (IoT) systems. IoT is a key element of the New Kuwait 2035 vision, and Al-Shatti said fibre optics would be “the door to carry out such an ambitious plan,” according to Kuna’s report.