Your Excellency Chairman of the Conference; Engineer\ Mohammed Al-Ghanim
Your Excellencies the Ministers and heads of delegation;
The Secretary General of ITU; Dr. Hamadoun I. Toure
Ladies and gentlemen…
It is a pleasure to speak to you on the occasion of WTDC-14 in the U.A.E.
I would like to congratulate the Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the Conference as well as the Chairmen and Vice-Chairmen of the committees. I am confident that their leadership will guide the Conference to a successful outcome in addressing the issues before it.
Ladies and gentlemen…
The fifth World Telecommunication Development Conference in India announced through the Hyderabad Declaration: "The Hyderabad Action Plan is a comprehensive package that will promote the equitable and sustainable development of telecommunication/ICT networks and services. This Hyderabad Action Plan is an important and relevant tool for helping to bridge the digital divide."
The Government of Saudi Arabia early on recognized the importance of the ICT sector and has pursued a privatization program which aims to increase the efficiency of the national economy and increase its competitiveness through the liberalization of services markets, open competition, and providing advanced, high-quality ICT services in all parts of the Kingdom at affordable prices.
As a result, the ICT sector in the Kingdom has experienced many changes in the past few years such as the development of regulatory policies and legislation, the creation of new markets, and the introduction of new advanced ICT services to meet the needs of all users, whether they be individuals, the private sector or government. Service penetration rates are increasing: fixed telephony services have reached 64% household penetration and mobile services have exceeded 170% population penetration.
Broadband (high-speed Internet) is one of the most important services in the Kingdom and is key to the development of the sector. Mobile broadband subscriptions have increased from only 64,000 in 2005 to more than 14.3 million at the end of 2013, a population penetration of 47.6%. There are also about 3 million fixed broadband subscribers, a household penetration of 45.5%. The amount of data traffic has doubled in the last year, reaching nearly 1 billion gigabytes on mobile networks, an average of over 2 terabytes per day. To keep pace with these rapid developments, fiber optic routes have grown to over 120,000 km.
In this regard, the use of Internet services in the community has increased from 5% in 2001 to more than 55% at the end of 2013, with the number of users estimated to be around 16.5 million.
In order to continue to promote fair competition, encourage the operators to improve the level of service, contribute to lower prices, and support investment in this important sector, the Communications and Information Technology Commission, in addition to the three existing mobile operators, has recently issued two licenses to provide mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) services in the Kingdom, bringing the number of companies competing to provide mobile services in the Kingdom to five.
Ladies and gentlemen…
The Kingdom is intent on reducing development gaps between regions by providing voice and broadband Internet services in all remote areas through the implementation of Government-supported universal service projects. More than 15,000 communities have been targeted with a population over 4.5 million people. There are currently 11 projects covering more than 12,000 communities. All universal service programs and projects are expected to complete by the end of 2017 and thus all districts, towns and villages will be covered with telecommunications services including high-speed Internet.
It should be noted that the total spending on ICT services in the Kingdom was SAR 102 billion ($27.2B) in 2013, compared with SAR 21 billion ($5.6B) in 2002, and it is expected to grow by 10% in 2014.
Finally, I would like, on my own behalf and on behalf of the Saudi delegation, to express our deep thanks and appreciation to the U.A.E. for hosting this important World Telecommunication Development Conference, and for their generous hospitality and making our participation at the Conference easy and comfortable.
Wishing the Conference complete success for the good of all people…