A three-day community exhibition held by the National Programme for Enhancing Economic Diversification, Tanfeedh to gain feedback on its 121 proposed projects and initiatives attracted around 8,000 visitors
The National Programme for Enhancing Economic Diversification (Tanfeedh) held a three-day community engagement exhibition recently, gaining feedback from around 8,000 visitors on 121 proposed projects and initiatives. Held at Oman Convention and Exhibition Centre from November 28 to 30, the exhibition encompassed three main sectors (manufacturing, logistic and tourism) as well as two economic enablers (finance and labour), all of which are the result of rigorous discussions held earlier this year and attended by more than 250 participants representing 160 public and private organisations.
The Tanfeedh programme, based on an eight -step Malaysian methodology, was set forth with the aim to increase Oman’s GDP in three focus sectors from RO4.9bn in 2015 to RO6.6bn in 2020, to ensure that 80 per cent of suggested initiatives are financed by the private sector as opposed to full dependency on government, and to generate around 30,000 jobs for local talents throughout implementation. The participants who took part in the six-week labs were tasked to detail programmes and initiatives and transform strategies from 30,000-feet approach to only three feet, a method that would pave the way for establishing measurable results and KPIs. The projects will be implemented by the respective ministries and related private sector parties, with the support of the “delivery support and follow-up unit” established by Royal Decree No 50/2016.
Being one of the essential themes highlighted in the ninth five-year plan, the manufacturing lab proposed an energy policy that calls for investing in renewable energy so that 10 per cent of energy generated will be from renewable sources by 2025. This includes generating at least 2,500 MW of solar power and 500 MW of wind power by 2025. It also proposes adopting alternative non-renewable resources to include consumption of coal in the manufacturing industry regulated by the international environmental standards. The policy also suggested ways to merge the institutions with energy into a unified entity to ensure abiding by the applicable energy policies. Displayed in a visual representation format at the exhibition, the suggested 121 initiatives range from petrochemical, metal, non-metal and food to energy and innovation, all with a timeframe to be implemented towards 2020.
The Logistic Strategy 2040 aims to create a logistic hub in order to contribute to Oman’s GDP and generate increased investment of RO 4.2bn by 2020. Making a mark in logistics will depend on making processes cheaper, faster and simpler. The proposed initiatives in the logistic lab aim to boost infrastructure and connectivity by introducing a 337-km rail line from Duqm to Shuwaemiya in order to develop the untapped potential of the mining sector in Oman and by improving land connectivity between the Sultanate and the GCC which will provide direct access to an additional 35 million potential customers. One of the suggestions for expanding Salalah Port was to increasing the port container capacity by 50 per cent, from 5 to 7.5 million TEU. The lab calls for enhancing the digital platform Bayan to become a hub for clearance and inspection processes, reducing the processing time from eight days to less than a day. Furthermore, a Cargo Village is proposed to optimise and integrate the cargo terminals in airports in order to create the idea conditions for Oman to increase its air freight for imports, exports, re-exports, transshipments and express courier centres.
On the labour sector front, the private sector cites labour restrictions as one of the major impediments to growth, as captured by the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Index. The Sultanate anticipates a youth bulge in the coming years, with a total of 44,000 new entrants expected each year between 2016 and 2020. In order to bridge the demand and supply of labour, a comprehensive package of solutions has been developed and proposed. Some of the initiatives are a one-window labour clearance which will reduce the process from months to only five days, improving part-time policies and introducing a National Occupational Standards for qualification development and workforce appraisals.
Spurring tourism growth
The tourism sector is expected to receive 2.7 million international tourists and attract RO1.8bn in private investment, creating a value-added of RO1.05bn and doubling the current employment figures. The tourism sector lab proposed projects in light of 2020 targets such as attracting private investments of at least RO1.8bn, increasing international tourist arrival from 1.9 million to at least 2.7 million and creating 10,000 jobs for Omanis in the sector. The lab calls for privatisation of management of nature and heritage sites as well as protected areas, developing a year-round calendar of events, creating iconic tourism projects and cultural F&B precincts, easing land and usufruct processing, among other initiatives.
The finance lab focused on two work streams which are project financing as well as improving business environment. One of the proposed initiatives is the establishment of real estate investment trusts to allow developers to sell their properties to funds where individuals can invest in. The lab also proposed establishing a Project Management Corporation to oversee all government project implementation in order to ensure projects are implemented within timeframe and budget.
With the conclusion of the community engagement exhibition, Tanfeedh now gears up for issuing a detailed hand book that is open for the public domain. The handbook will detail the final output of the projects incorporating people’s insights and feedback. The next sectors to be examined in accordance with the eight-step methodology are mining and fisheries, two promising sectors for Oman.