In strategic collaboration with stc Group, Mobily, China Mobile International, the Communication, Space & Technology Commission (CSTC) of Saudi Arabia, and the 193 Member States and private-sector driven UN premier ICT agency, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), SAMENA Telecommunications Council held its Rising for Industry Sustainability & Efficiencies (RISE) Conference on 11th January 2023 at Fairmont Riyadh, Saudi Arabia,

The RISE Conference focused on fostering understanding of the complex notion of “ICT sustainability”, and on rising to new challenges and making progress as new digital applications, services, platforms, and business and operating models surface, including for terrestrial and satellite service providers.

RISE, inspired by accelerated digital transformation in Saudi Arabia, which has secured G5 regulatory classification with its progressive policy-making and regulatory approaches, also brought under focus new needs of the businesses, economic sectors and industries, particularly ICT and Financial Services, and the society at large.

At a time when Saudi Arabai’s MCIT, under the leadership of H.E. Eng. Abdullah Alswaha, Minister of Communications and Information Technology, is leading key digitalization efforts across the public sector and when a robust and cutting-edge digital architecture has been created in Saudi Arabia in alignment with the national Vision 2030, the RISE Conference aimed to extend knowledge support on multiple areas.

The Saudi Communication, Space & Technology Commission (CSTC, formerly CITC), led by H.E. Governor Dr. Mohammed Altamimi who delivered a keynote during the opening of RISE, also has been a decisive force that has empowered the Saudi ICT ecosystem to progress and grow in the desired national policy direction. The Commission continues to emphasize on the need for regional regulatory authorities to enhance strategic cooperation in developing the digital economy and is pursuing a long-term vision of digital transformation and sustainability at its heart.

As UN specialized ICT agency with focus on ICT development throughout the world, ITU, with H.E. Ms. Doreen Bogdan-Martin having taken office as the first woman Secretary-General and who also delivered a strong message during RISE as the first main conference of the year 2023, has been promoting the need for collaborations and partnerships, and the necessity to address challenges and opportunities offered by ICTs in the areas of innovation, governance, education, job creation and economic growth.

Furthermore, RISE brought together leading Private-Sector  leaders from across the industries, including from the financial services and terrestrial connectivity providers  as well as space ecosystem key players, to further the dialogue on Sustainable ICT Development.

Eng. Olayan AlWetaid, Group CEO of stc and Chairman of the Board of Directors of SAMENA Council, who delivered a welcome message during RISE, had earlier stated that “As the Kingdom’s maturity shifts into a world-class digital nation driven by Vision 2030, among the many initiatives now taking place within the Kingdom, the RISE Conference is structured to address the emerging needs and challenges of the digitally transforming businesses, economic sectors, telecom industries and the society at large becoming a platform toward sustainability in investment and improved collaborations.”

Eng. Alhamedi Alanezi, CEO of ARABSAT and board member of SAMENA Council, stated that “The future of sustainable innovation and development in the ICT field has to be anchored on complementarity between the terrestrial and satellite industries with the objective of not only empowering urban communities but to also not leave anyone behind.  Alhamedi added that a robust digital economy is not resilient and sustainable enough without bridging the digital divide.”

Eng. Salman Al Badran, CEO of Mobily and board member of SAMENA Council, who was among the key partners to make RISE possible, had stated that “We support SAMENA Council’s initiative to address ICT sustainability challenges and various other issues.”

Mr. Bocar BA, CEO and also member of SAMENA Council’s board, expressed that “The RISE Conference aimed to add a new dimension to how key stakeholders from within the ICT Industry, including terrestrial and satellite segments and beyond, and now also from leading financial institutions, need to work together to overcome the challenge of building next-generation digital infrastructure, which should ensure digital inclusion and sustainability in investments and in ICT development.”

The Conference began with exploring what the future looks like for all stakeholders, including Operators, in a meshed world where economic, social and business activities require advanced, resilient and secure telecom networks. Keynotes and discussion sessions examined various aspects of a sustainable digital future, and the types of policies, strategies and measures required to ensure, for example, that ICTs are transformed to become greener, enabling a truly sustainable digital future.

RISE is a new flagship leaders-centric industry meeting by SAMENA Council to assist proactive engagement and industry discourse within the SA-ME-NA region as well as among regional policymakers and regulatory authorities. RISE is anticipated to help start the year 2023 with fresh perspectives on ICT sustainability and how ecosystem players should strive forward in meeting both individual and collective digital transformation goals.