SAP highlighted the importance of embracing smarter, tech-enabled cities to improve both lives and businesses across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.
Smart cities are a key investment focus for SAP, and the company’s expertise incorporates a distinct Urban Matters program, which aims to improve the lives of citizens and deliver better, more effective government through a combination of cloud, analytics, mobility and database technology.
Speaking ahead of next week’s Government Summit at which SAP is this year’s official Innovation Partner, Sam Alkharrat, Managing Director, SAP MENA, also hailed Dubai’s Smart City initiative’s potential to inspire and drive positive change across MENA.
“As the region faces a growing urban populationand increased pressure on resources, governments are starting to embrace the concept of widespread connectivity, technological empowerment and Smart Cities,” he said. “More than ever before, government services are going mobile and adopting cutting-edge cloud and analytics technologies. A huge wave of data is presenting new and unique ways to innovate, and we now live at a time whenwe can generate valuable intelligence from virtually any process, action or thing for real-time analysis and action. This presents a hugely exciting and profound opportunity for government leaders to drive enhanced spending, transform services, spur sustainable development, accelerate innovation, and empower communities.Dubai is a perfect example of a city showing great ambition in this respect, and its influence will surely inspire change throughout MENA,” he added.
The urban population for Western Asia (which includes the Middle East, Turkey and the Caucasus) and North Africa, is slated to grow by 42% from 259 million in 2010 to 354 million in 2025, when 66% of the region’s population will be living in urban areas, according to data from the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs. Globally, the Smart City technology market will grow from $6.1bn in annual revenue in 2012 to $20.2bn by 2020, according to Navigant Research. The Middle East is seeing strong growth, with the region’s IT spending slated to growby7.3% from 2013to $32bn in 2014, according to the IDC.
In addition to Dubai’s Smart City initiative, which has gained increased momentum following the city’s Expo 2020 win, there are a host of promising developments across the region, including six economic cities in Saudi Arabia and Qatar’s bid to build three Smart Cities: Lusail Smart City, The Pearl-Qatar, and Energy City. Demonstrating its position as a leader in government innovation, the UAE has been highlighted as a “global leader” and ranks 28th worldwide on the UN e-Government Readiness Index. It is also among the top 20 for “e-participation.” Dubai Smart Government has also reported its mPay amounts increased by 265% in 2013, demonstrating the rise of mobile app payments in the region. In addition, the World Economic Forum recently ranked the UAE first (out of 144 countries) for government success in ICT promotion, 3rd for ICT’s important to government vision, and 9th for online government services.
Top SAP executives from the region and company’s global team are set to discuss the fast-moving challenges and opportunities related to emergent imperatives such as Smart Cities and m-government services at the Government Summit, which runs from 10-12 February under the theme “Leading Government Services”. SAP’s has a strong and innovative track record within the public sector. SAP’s Urban Matters program alone builds on an over 30-year old track record of helping cities innovate and sustain themselves. Over 1,700 urban governments worldwide currently run on SAP.
SAP has also been active in driving the evolution of m-government services across the region, including a high-profile collaboration with Etisalat in the UAE. The partnership aims to create user-friendly apps for government departments to improve service efficiency and keep both employees and citizens connected.
“Etisalat works closely with citizens and government entities to launch innovative services that will help them bring transformation and resolve their specific challenges in their daily lives. These smart solutions can enhance quality of life enabling governments to deliver services more efficiently. We have always been in the forefront of launching pioneering services and solutions creating benchmarks in the mobility environment,” said Abdulla Hashim, Senior Vice President of ICT, Etisalat UAE. “Our partnership with SAP will help us lead the way in driving m-government service adoption in the country. It will bring in simplicity, speed and flexibility into processes involving both citizens and government decision-makers. An advanced mobile ecosystem is becoming a powerful and a potentialgame-changing enabler, helping to unlock new routes to innovation and improve everything from business prospects to everyday life,” he added.
Now in its second year, the Government Summit is held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.
“We are extremely proud to be the Innovation Partner for the Government Summit,” added Alkharrat. “This is a fantastic opportunity to engage with senior and high-level government dignitaries from all over the region to brainstorm and discuss how technology can improve prospects, competitiveness and day-to-day life,” he concluded.
Aiming to take advantage of the experiences of the private sector, the Government Summit has succeeded in attracting partnerships with a number of national institutions and leading companies in the UAE private sector, including Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company (du) and Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank. The Summit will be attended by over 3500 delegates and over 60 regional and international speakers and intellectuals. It will witness the launch of a series of international reports on the development of government services, and propose many worksheets and constructive discussions that will contribute to the expansion and dissemination of knowledge and model government sector development in the region.
The first edition of the Summit, held last year, received strong support from the UAE leadership and a very positive response from the public. It discussed topics of concern on a regional and international level. During the last Summit, the UAE leadership established a new model for governmental transparency at the regional level, and an innovative practice of directly interacting with the public on topics related to national development.
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