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This year, the World Telecommunication and Information Society Day (WTISD) will focus on ‘Digital Innovation for Sustainable Development,’ highlighting the crucial role of digital innovation in promoting global connectivity and sustainable prosperity.

Creating a sustainable future requires innovative approaches, particularly in the digital realm. To achieve sustainable development, strategies across four pillars are essential: political, social, economic, and environmental.

The Need for Digital Innovation

The ITU reported that digital technologies have the potential to fulfill 70% of the targets outlined in the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030. However, disparities in digital access impede innovation in numerous regions worldwide. Insufficient policies, investment, and digital proficiency has left many nations grappling to adapt to the rapidly evolving digital environment.

In order to ensure inclusivity, two distinct, strategic objectives have been established: achieving universal connectivity and fostering sustainable digital transformation.

To advance universal connectivity, efforts should focus on achieving accessible, affordable, high-quality, interoperable and secure ICT infrastructure, services and applications. Therefore, by leveraging existing and emerging technologies, connectivity solutions and business models can close the digital divide.

By leveraging ICT, digital transformation can help build an inclusive society and economy for sustainable development. This could impact a realm of vested stakeholders, including women and girls, the youth, indigenous people, the elderly, the disabled and those with specific needs. Overall, promoting and enabling digital transformation across all facets of life and activities can benefit everyone.

Also Read: Building Tomorrow's Data Centers: A Focus on Sustainability in the Middle East

Oman Perspective

Over the past forty years, the Sultanate of Oman has made substantial investments in developing the groundwork for digital innovation. This includes establishing robust legislative and regulatory frameworks for the ICT sector, expanding both fixed and mobile communications networks, and nurturing local expertise through higher education and professional programs. Consequently, the Sultanate aims to capitalize on the potential of digital sectors to enrich the innovation landscape and unlock numerous social and economic advantages.

The Ministry of Transport, Communications, and Information Technology (MTCIT) has collaborated with the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and local stakeholders to assess the current state and future prospects of the digital innovation ecosystem in the Sultanate.

“Innovation and entrepreneurship are the engines of digital development, driving the creation of new technologies and the growth of new industries that improve our lives and connect us to new opportunities. The Sultanate of Oman understands the importance of these two concepts in building a sustainable, progressive, and digitally connected society. Oman has made tremendous strides with various ICT investments and its Digital Economy Program and continues to address opportunities toward the Oman Vision 2040,” said Cosmas Luckyson Zavazava, Director, ITU Telecommunication Development Bureau.

The Social Pillar

Technology serves as an effective instrument for boosting social inclusion by introducing channels for disseminating information and facilitating communication. It also plays a crucial role in augmenting digital literacy across diverse segments of society.

Oman is steadfast in its commitment to social inclusion, striving to ensure equitable opportunities for all individuals, irrespective of their backgrounds, thereby enabling them to fulfill their potential. This commitment is ingrained in every developmental endeavor undertaken by the country, ensuring that no community, no matter how small, is left behind in the digital revolution.

The Sultanate of Oman’s ‘eOman’ vision encompasses the entire community in its comprehensive ICT-driven development initiatives. Alongside its community-centric endeavors, it designs and implements specialized projects tailored to the specific needs of various demographic groups, including children, women, the elderly, the disabled, rural minorities, and others.

The Information Technology Authority of Oman (ITA) spearheads numerous eOman digital society projects, which aim to foster social cohesion across different sectors and communities.

Notably, Oman has garnered accolades from UNESCWA for its exemplary efforts in adopting accessibility measures for people with disabilities. The government's unwavering dedication to digital accessibility and inclusivity has been a focal point, with the National Digital Access Policy ensuring electronic access for all segments of society.

In line with this policy, government departments and both public and private entities have been directed by the MTCIT to ensure equitable access to services for the disabled and the elderly. Moreover, the ministry emphasizes the importance of easy access to digital services through websites, applications, and mobile platforms, urging establishments to align their digital infrastructure with global accessibility standards.

Also Read: Nokia's People & Planet 2023 Report Emphasizes Digital's Role in Sustainability

The Environmental Pillar

Oman Vision 2040 outlines the Sultanate's comprehensive strategy for achieving economic and social objectives, while prioritizing sustainable development and the efficient utilization of natural resources. All segments of society, including citizens, private sector entities, civil society organizations, and government authorities, are urged to actively contribute to realizing the vision's strategic goals.

The plan emphasizes the creation of a well-preserved environment with balanced ecosystems and renewable resources. It focuses on developing non-traditional, natural resources, such as renewable energy, and powering new infrastructure projects with clean, green energy sources.

In response, Oman is proactively addressing climate change through billion-dollar investments in energy transition and decarbonization initiatives, aiming to meet its goals by 2050. Guided by the National Net Zero Plan, the country aims to promote renewable energy adoption and produce 1 million tonnes of green hydrogen by 2030. Additionally, it aims to derive 30% of electricity from renewables by 2030 and will encourage electric vehicle (EV) usage through customs and tax incentives.

The inauguration of Oman's inaugural waste-to-energy facility highlights the country's dedication to sustainability and lowering emissions. Eco-specific hackathons engaging the community have also been organized. During the Oman Sustainability Week, over 100 young Omani innovators devised creative solutions for societal and organizational challenges in energy, health, safety, decarbonization, and environmental conservation. These innovators leveraged modern technologies, waste management techniques, energy optimization, eco-friendly transportation, and IoT-based safety uniforms. By empowering the youth and fostering innovation, Oman is advancing towards realizing Vision 2040 and its long-term development objectives.

The Economic Pillar

Oman continues to digitalize its key sectors, support the innovation ecosystem, and reform related policies to accelerate digital transformation and the country’s capacity to innovate.

The country demonstrates several technology-focused strategies such as the Digital Oman Strategy or eOman (2003), the National e-Commerce Strategy, the National Broadband Strategy, the National ICT Strategy, the 4IR, the National Postal Strategy, the Industrial Strategy 2040, as well as the National Strategy for Research and Development 2040. All these strategies were revamped and compiled into a single national program for the digital economy.

Industrial policies cover the main key sectors through the Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development Strategy towards 2040, the Oil and Gas Law, the Manufacturing for Wellbeing Strategy 2040, the National Tourism Strategy, the Oman Logistics Strategy, and the Banking Law. Most policies mention the use of modern technologies to increase the efficiency of production and the production of raw materials locally. These frameworks form part of the economic diversification of the country.

Unlocking the potential for a sustainable digital transformation will support the country’s transition into a knowledge-based economy.

Simultaneously, Oman organizes various events including annual conferences, seminars, prizes, and boot camps, facilitated by private enterprises, government entities, and university research centers. These gatherings serve as platforms to address challenges, explore emerging technologies, encourage mutual learning, and establish enduring networks.

The weight of family and societal obligations has steered numerous innovators away from risk-taking ventures, resulting in stable and sustainable employment. Entrepreneurship, therefore, has emerged as a catalyst for generating fresh job prospects for Omani youth. This shift stimulates innovation and creativity, facilitates technology adoption, stimulates national productivity, drives knowledge transfer, and ultimately spurs economic advancement.

Attend Virtual Panel: Unveiling Oman’s Digital Revolution – Don’t Miss Out, Register Now!

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