Jun 21, 2020

Investments in telecoms and health system pay dividends

The key part that sustained investments in Saudi Arabia’s digital infrastructure have played in helping to successfully contain the spread of the coronavirus and keep the Kingdom’s economic diversification plans on track is analysed in a new ICT-focused Covid-19 Response Report (CRR) by Oxford Business Group.
The global research and advisory company’s report gives details of the measures implemented by the country’s telecoms sector, led by (stc), which ensured business continuity throughout lockdown, facilitating the implementation of seamless work-from-home and remote education practices, alongside the implementation of digital health initiatives.
With its focus on the telecoms sector, the report provides wide-ranging coverage of the digital infrastructure upgrades introduced in 2019, which have taken mobile internet speeds up to 10th fastest in world and enabled stc to accommodate the huge increase in demand fuelled by Saudis migrating online during lockdown.
It also charts the shift towards digital commerce and remote payments which accelerated during lockdown, buoyed by the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority’s decisions to raise the maximum allowed recharge limit for electronic wallets to SAR 20,000 per month. As a result, stcPay – the country’s largest e-wallet – witnessed 30% growth in revenues in Q1 2020 compared to the corresponding period the previous year.
Divided into sections, the CRR provides detailed analysis of the Kingdom’s resilience ahead of the pandemic and its preparedness to withstand an unexpected shock, the speed with which policies were implemented and their effectiveness in response to the outbreak, alongside the direct impact on public health and the wider economy.
It also examines the country’s promising prospects for economic recovery, given its sound macro-economic indicators, while considering which sectors are likely to drive a rebound. In addition, OBG considers the opportunities for post-Covid-19 reinvention, with economic policy expected to target the industries of the future and digital growth under the national Vision 2030.
Commenting, Andrew Jeffreys, OBG’s CEO, said that Saudi Arabia’s multi-faceted approach to tackling the Covid-19 pandemic had helped the country to limit community transmission, while also cushioning its impact on both businesses and households, and setting the scene for a speedy economic recovery.
“Prudent decisions to invest in the health system and digital infrastructure have paid dividends in these challenging times and helped the Kingdom to maintain a consistently low case-fatality rate throughout the pandemic,” he said. “Our report also indicates that Saudi Arabia’s efforts to enhance its investment environment, which saw the country rise 30 places on the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business index in 2020, will serve it well as it looks to bounce back in the coming months.”
The Covid-19 Response Report (CRR) was produced in collaboration with stc. It forms part of a series of tailored reports which the global research and advisory company is currently producing with its partners, alongside other highly relevant, go-to research tools, including a range of country-specific Covid-19 Economic Impact Assessment articles and interviews you can check the report.