September 15, 2023

Communications, Space & Technology Commission: Connecting the Unconnected

Contributed by:

H.E. Dr. Mohammed Saud Al-Tamimi

Governor of CST, Saudi Arabia

This Commissioner Impact Story was published in the 2023 State of Broadband Report

As a fifth-generation digital regulator, the Communications, Space & Technology Commission (CST) has outlined a roadmap to steer the Saudi ICT sector toward meaningful, sustainable growth that facilitates the Kingdom’s goals for 2030. The “C.I.R.C.L.E” framework is CST’s commitment to advancing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through six key priorities, which translates into Cutting Edge Infrastructure, Innovation, Renewable Energy, Circular Economy, Leading Cities, and Equality and Inclusion, aiming for the development of a sustainable and resilient ICT sector. As a result, Saudi Arabia achieved 96% of ITU “Connect 2030” targets in 2022, and is on track to meet the 2025 Broadband Advocacy Targets with high-speed broadband networks covering 100% of populated areas, and with almost 90% of the population have at least basic ICT skills according to the ITU.

Furthermore, Saudi Arabia ranked 2nd among the G20 Members and 4th globally in the preparedness of digital systems following its success in building a sustainable regulatory framework and shifting towards digital collaborative regulation to empower the digital economy, according to the ITU report “Global Digital Regulatory Outlook 2023”.

Most importantly, we have recognized that connecting the unconnected, as well as being a social good in its own right by enabling access to digital opportunities for all, will also play a key part in achieving the SDGs. Yet 2.6 billion people – around 33% of the world’s population – are still unconnected. Thus, we are exploring a range of emerging technologies such as Non-Terrestrial Networks (NTN), which leverage space for digital transformation and will go a long way towards bridging the digital divide and connecting the unconnected.

The ideas and opinions expressed in this insight are those of the authors; they do not necessarily reflect those of ITU and UNESCO or the Broadband Commission. The mention of specific companies, products or services does not imply that they are endorsed or recommended by ITU or UNESCO or Broadband Commission in preference to others of a similar nature that are not mentioned.