Kuwait’s telecommunication services are rapidly improving, with five operational Internet Service Providers (ISPs), three mobile telephone operators, and many sub-ISPs and authorized distributors covering the entire country. The market has in recent years vertically integrated with several telecoms acquiring ISPs to offer mobile and internet services as a packager to commercial and consumer customers.
Kuwait’s telecom industry has a high rate of mobile access, fiber optic cabling, satellite connectivity, Wi-Fi accessibility, advanced networks providing internet/intranet services, fully operational and equipped base stations for network optimization quality throughout the country, and more.
In contrast to Kuwait’s competitive mobile telecom sector, the fixed-line telecom business in Kuwait is still government-owned, unlike other countries in the GCC. Kuwait did not have a telecommunications regulatory authority until April 2014, when the parliament approved a bill to create a Communication and Information Technology Regulatory Authority (CITRA).
CITRA was officially launched in February 2016. It governs all the aspects of the telecommunication sectors previously sub-managed by the Ministry of Communication, including approvals and licensing of new companies, new services/products, and the upgrading of services. CITRA’s mission is to ensure the establishment and sustainability of fair, competitive market conditions through regulation of the telecommunications and IT sectors, as well as to develop those sectors further through investments and technology advancements.
While CITRA is the regulatory body for information technology, the implementing body is known as the the Central Agency for Information Technology (CAIT). CAIT’s main objectives are to roll out technology and e-government projects in coordination with the ministries and government agencies. They also implement the regulations of CITRA among the government agencies as well as train and build capacity in the technology for government workers.
Through its Vision 2035 Economic Diversification Plan, Kuwait is keen to modernize and digitalize its economy, and become a smart commercial hub in the region. The government’s goals are to: increase connectivity within cities; enhance productivity in key sectors (including oil and gas, IT, financial services, healthcare, and transportation); and streamline bureaucratic processes to create efficiencies and enhance transparency within the public sector (particularly in government procurement).
The Government of Kuwait is developing its National Cybersecurity Program to build a cybersecurity framework to protect government networks and critical infrastructure assets. Specific areas of focus include infrastructure protection; integrated risk management; network security equipment; and other information security software.
The Kuwaiti government is in the process of creating a National Cyber Security Center. It will be responsible for all national cyber security activities in the State of Kuwait. The center will work with government agencies and private sector to monitor Kuwait’s networks for cyber security threats, collect and disseminate threat intelligence, and support the national cyber security response. Other functions will include the release of a national cyber security, evaluation and classification of the cyber security industry, and ICT services.
Internet of Things (IoT)
Kuwait’s Communication and Information Technology Regulatory Authority (CITRA) developed a framework to encourage the adoption of IoT to build smart and safe infrastructure in the education, health, energy, entertainment, and banking sectors. Zain, the leading digital service provider in Kuwait, announced a partnership with the Ministry of Information to develop KUWAIT TV, an all-new app that features the latest streaming technologies. Through this partnership, Zain takes Kuwait TV into the digital platform era by offering live streaming and Video on Demand (VOD) services. In addition, Kuwait Finance House is the first Kuwaiti bank to launch digital signatures for personal financing transactions, enabling customers to complete financing requests anywhere and anytime.
Transportation & Infrastructure
Despite challenging economic conditions, several transportation and infrastructure projects continue to move forward, presenting market opportunities for U.S. companies. Currently, Kuwait is building Terminal 2 at the Kuwait International Airport, a project valued at $3.4 billion. The new terminal will require cutting-edge technology to connect various systems such as IT, cargo, and security. (The project tender for the ICT package is expected to be issued soon).
Digitization of the Oil & Gas Sector
The Kuwait National Petroleum Company (KNPC) signed an MoU with the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries (OAPEC) to cooperate on an overhaul of the oil sector and its digital transformation. With that, the Kuwait Oil Company aims to digitize most of the country’s oil fields. The overall strategy is to overhaul downstream operations by adopting innovative strategies, safer operations, and business optimization. Specific areas of focus include advanced solutions for cloud platforms; real-time monitoring; gamification of workflows; and cybersecurity.
The telecom sector is expected to grow over the next 10 years. U.S. companies interested in exploring and pursuing opportunities in this market should identify suitable local partners. The procurement process with telecom operators and service providers is done through tenders, and international companies need local representation in order to participate and bid.
For more information, please contact Commercial Specialist Rasha Al-Muhtaseb on email@example.com.