(MENAFN - Arab News) A new specialized report launched recently about the Information and Communication and Technology (ICT) sectors revealed the positive impact of investments in these sectors of more than SR200 billion, contributing to the creation of 60,000 new job opportunities a year in the domestic market.
These investments reflected positively on the Kingdom's GDP, with revenues reaching around SR50 billion every year.
The report highlighted the leaps in expenditure in information technology in Saudi Arabia, compared to levels achieved in other developed countries achievements in this sector, such as Australia, as well as being higher than those achieved in China, India, Chile, Malaysia, and Mexico.
The telecommunication sector represents 2 percent of the total GDP in the Kingdom and nearly 4 percent when oil revenues are not taken into consideration.
STC Group CEO Saud Al-Dweesh said ICT had become a key necessity like water and electricity..
This change made the world "a global village" linking people everywhere, and modifying the way people watch the TV, purchased the books, advanced their knowledge and communicated socially, he said.
He said the change happened after the development of the infrastructure in the Kingdom.
He added the rate of home broadband had increased from zero in 2005 to more than 46 percent now.
Al-Dweesh pointed to the STC report which will help the scholars, researchers, economists and the experts in the telecommunications sector to raise their understanding of the impact of telecommunications and information technology in the Kingdom.
This will lead to open the horizons for discussions and exchanging ideas. It could also to become the base that achieves to build a promising future on its data and planes toward the development and growth in the investment of information technology.
According to the report, the accelerated growth in telecommunications and information technology investments provide huge economic benefits, as in Malaysia which witnessed relevant economic growth of 0.66 percent annually, according to data from the conference board, indicating that the increase in the size of investments will enable Saudi Arabia to equal the capital in this sector of that in Malaysia (which in essence means that every Saudi national will receive an additional 240)
ICT investments in the Kingdom have reinforced the growth of expansion in mobile and broadband networks, demonstrated clearly in increasing numbers over the past few years. More than 10 billion has been invested, encouraging mobile networks in the Kingdom to transform from traditional Internet services to 3G technology, by providing special content (photos, video clips and so on).
Moreover, the entry of what's known as e-commerce platforms and the use of broadband applications (33 fixed broadbands for every 100 homes in Saudi Arabia) has demonstrated the strength of performance of the Saudi market.
A study conducted by the Communication and Information Technology Commission shows that around 5.53 percent of families have Internet services, 80 percent of who use DSL lines, which means broadband is now integrated into 43 percent of all homes.
The report indicated that the expansion of 3G technology in the Kingdom is probably linked to the individual's share of GDP.
The report from the authority showed that 17 percent of those surveyed use video calls and 6 percent of them browse the Internet via 3G technology, while 4 percent use the Internet using their mobile phones.
Interestingly, according to the report, the performance of the Kingdom in e-banking services is close to the levels of some southern European countries - at a minimum.
The survey conducted by the Communication and Information Technology Commission compared other countries to the Kingdom and allowed for comparisons in online banking and e-commerce with other countries, and identifying the percentage of purchasers over the Internet.
According to the survey, 35 percent of those surveyed bought goods and service over the Internet.
The report, however, noted that the special economic climate in the Kingdom should taken into consideration, like unutilized workforce, large oil reserves; therefore information technology in the kingdom can play the role of an economic facilitator.
The report pointed to distinguishing patterns of behavior between males and females in Internet usage.
For example, males prefer using the Internet for services that facilitate planning their journeys and purchasing cars, while females prefer to use it for health care and educational services.
More than 50 percent of those surveyed agreed that they couldn't live without the Internet, while the percentage of those who consider the Internet as necessary as electricity increased more among the youth, thus positively impacting social relationships in the Kingdom.
According to International Telecommunication Union, Internet penetration in Saudi Arabia has reached 41 percent while mobile phones subscriptions have grown for, by three times over the past 5 years every 100 people, recording a rise of 186 percent over the last two years.
In the Kingdom, the report finds distinguishing behaviors among males and females in access of broadband using mobiles, with males having a higher propensity to accessing news and e-mails.
However, surprisingly, both males and females were equal in broadband usage of social networks, with 95 percent of men accessing Facebook and 93 percent among females, followed by Twitter - 22 percent for males and 3 percent for females. These numbers are higher in Riyadh and Jeddah.
Facebook research also shows that there 3 million Facebook subscribers in the Kingdom, among 10 million Internet subscribers
Data from World Information Technology and Services Alliance (WITSA) data reveals that the Kingdom spends 70 percent to 80 percent of the total expenditure on ICT sectors on telecommunications, compared to 45 percent to 55 percent in those economies, which have higher usage in those sectors, such as US economy.
The report prepared by STC in cooperation with specialist international experts in telecommunication is considered to be an "economic reference" for future studies, includes two sections.
The first, the report discussed the ICT, and the 'Saudi economy: historical contribution and future expectations'.
The second discussed the social impact in ICT.