The successive crises in economy, food, and energy witnessed by the world recently have led to an increase in demand for statistical data and information. Statistics and information sector in Saudi Arabia has also received a plenty of demands due to its important position and main role internationally and regionally. As a matter of fact, the remarkable progress in information and communication technologies has accelerated the demand for timeless, comprehensive, reliable, and accurate statistical information. Nationally, the continuous progress in the developmental path in Saudi Arabia also requires more accurate, comprehensive, timeless statistics to support decision and policy making, monitor the progress, and evaluate the impact and performance.
The continuous response for these increasing demands requires Saudi Arabia’s statistics and information sector to find a mechanism that can help in improving their work sustainably, as well as following up with the relevant updates inside and outside Saudi Arabia. As a result, this sector had to prepare a national strategy for the statistical development which is the first of its kind at the level of Saudi Arabia under the supervision of the General Department of Statistics and Information since it is the central body and regulator of statistics. This step has come in accordance with the general frame of the unified statistical strategy of GCC countries, and was approved by the Ministers Council in Dhu Al-qi'dah 1431H (October 2010).
The statistic and information sector has considered the international standards while preparing the strategy, most importantly, the participation and contribution of the main doers in the information and statistics sector from users to producers of data and information in order build a real partnership that guarantees the adoption of the strategy by those who are concerned, also to benefit from the experiences, and join the efforts to promote this vital sector.
Current situation analysis:
The analysis of the current situation of the statistics sector in Saudi Arabia, which is the base and starting point of preparing the strategy, has showed that this sector is an important priority to the country. The sector has also witnessed a remarkable progress in the statistical production- whether in administrative records or field work for census, surveys, and researches- in addition to the progress in the statistical systems, dissemination methods, and using the latest technologies. However, there are some obstacles and challenges that may face the statistical work and need to be solved in order to achieve a notable improvement in record time, these challenges include: lack of statistical awareness, numbers analysis by non-specialists, not referring to the main sources in some cases, lack of some information in administrative records, lack of providing the required data by some international groups and organization such as: (G20) where Saudi Arabia is a member, as well as inability in drafting and publishing statistical report,, etc.
Vision, Message, and Principals:
Based on the analysis of the current situation of the statistical work as well as studying the demand on statistical data and information, the long-term vision was established for the statistics and information sector in Saudi Arabia (by the end of 1451/52H corresponding to 2030) aiming to establish “effective statistical and information sector that meets the needs of beneficiaries with professionalism, credibility and high quality”. The message of the sector and the principles of its work were explained which are based on the official statistics principles issued by the UN, and in accordance with the principles of the Saudi society, focusing on professionalism, integrity, transparency, participation, seriousness in work and results-based management.
National Statistical Strategic Plan’s Axes 2030
To accomplish the ambitious plan of the sector, the national statistical strategic plan has adopted five complete strategic axes including long-term objectives until the year 1451/52 H (2030) summarized as follows:
Using statistical data and information (demand) aims at:
- Providing continuous improvement in using statistical data and information correctly
- Keeping a high level of satisfaction from users
Statistical data and information production (supply) seeks to:
- Meet the needs of all users by providing easy-to-use statistical data and information at the right time
- Enhance the quality of the statistical services and products by applying the latest international classifications, methods, and criteria when collecting, processing, analyzing, and publishing data
- Increase the reliance on administrative records as a main source of official statistics
Latest technologies, specifically aims at:
- Using the latest technologies in every statistical work (in accordance with the developments and updates in the field)
- Improving the digital infrastructure
Communication and awareness, their main objectives are discussed below:
- Increasing the society’s statistical knowledge and awareness as well as emphasizing on the importance of statistics
- Building the knowledge of transparency, communication, and cooperation
Governing, which seeks to:
- Increase the effectivity of the statistical sector and decrease the gap between its components
- Improve the national human resources as well as attract citizens with distinguished skills
- Manage the financial resources efficiently and effectively
Long-term strategic objectives also include short-term objectives, which are:
- Real and continuous involvement of data and information users in the statistical work
- Considering the current and future statistical needs according to Saudi Arabia’s 2030 Vision
- Achieving a high level of satisfaction from statistical data and information users
- Meeting the needs of Saudi Arabia’s 2030 statistical vision in addition to Saudi Arabia’s international and regional obligations
- Joining the special data dissemination standard (SDDS) adopted by the International Monetary Fund
- Achieving the current and the future needs of Saudi Arabia’s membership in G20
- Completing the necessary elements to conduct the general census of housing and population 2020 through the administrative records
- Using new technologies in all the stages of the statistical work
- Achieving the electronic link between GASTAT and the administrative records
- Raising the society’s statistical awareness
- Activating the components of the statistical sector in stages
- Improving the national human resources by preparing a specific program for this
- Enhancing the strategic partnership between GASTAT and the various components of the statistical sector
- Building a result-based management knowledge
- Managing the financial resources efficiently and effectively
To implement the National Strategy for Statistical Development successfully, all the participants, such as users and producers of statistical data and information in Saudi Arabia, must work collectively and collaboratively to achieve the desired goal. Therefore, one of the most important pillar of the strategy is to pay a significant attention to the different classes, qualifications, and roles of the users. However, the primary role of the data producers is to produce, analyze as well as publish reliable and up-to-date statistical data and information, to meet the needs of the users in a timely manner. Furthermore, to raise awareness and promote statistical culture in the community.
The success of the Strategy requires bilateral, regional and international cooperation, as well as a more effective participation by the statistics sector in international forums, in order to follow up and contribute to the developments of statistical methodologies, standards, methods, and classifications processes.
Action Plan during the Tenth Development Plan Period of Time:
The first phase of the implementation process of the National Strategy for Statistical Development, which extends throughout the entire period of the Tenth Development Plan (1437/36 H.-1441/40 H. – corresponding 2015-2019), focuses on strengthening current programs, enterprises, and activities. Such as the National Database Enterprise, as well as the statistical units, centers and departments’ efforts exerted in order to develop their businesses. The Statistics & Information Sector will seek to ensure the integration of these efforts, through the exchange of experiences among relevant entities in order to benefit from success stories and avoid mistakes repetition. The main objective of the first phase also is to highlight the efforts that will help in achieving the Strategy’s new objectives, such as conducting the 2020 General Population and Housing Census through the use of administrative records. Such efforts will serve in raising statistical awareness, increasing the use of statistical information and data, as well as addressing the growing demand for these data and information, through implementing relevant elements and making the necessary adjustments gradually.
Implementation, Monitoring, Assessment and Update:
The National Strategy for Statistical Development is an iterative process which gradually improves, taking into account the lessons drawn from its implementation process. The Strategy is enriched by the developments occurring to national development action plans and strategies, as well as best international practices. The Strategy will be implemented through the five-year action and development plans, starting with the Tenth Development Plan, as stated above. Hence, all Statistics & Information Sector’s entities will prepare and implement detailed operational plans in relevant fields. The General Authority for Statistics (GASTAT) will be, therefore, in charge of supporting and coordinating these efforts in order to ensure their full integration.
It worth mentioning that achievements, results, and implementation level will be closely monitored, and an annual report on the Strategy implementation process will be prepared and published. Furthermore, two assessments for each five-year period (at mid-phase and after completion) and a periodic update of the Strategy will be carried out. This will be done based on the lessons learned from all of these elements and relevant developments occurring inside and outside Saudi Arabia.