Saudi ‘PCs for homes’ scheme to begin soon

Saudi Arabia’s long-awaited ‘PCs for homes’ initiative will begin shortly, one of the senior figures behind the scheme said last week.

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By  Peter Branton Published  April 3, 2005

Saudi Arabia’s long-awaited ‘PCs for homes’ initiative will begin shortly, one of the senior figures behind the scheme said last week. Mohammad Ebrahim Al Swaiyel, governor of the Communications & Information Technology Commission (CITC) of Saudi Arabia, said the scheme would soon start delivering on its target of providing one million PCs for the Kingdom’s home users over the next five years. The CITC has been working with private firms in Saudi Arabia on the scheme since last year. It aims to make affordable PC ownership a reality for a wider section of the population and increase ICT awareness in the Kingdom. Through the scheme, people will be able to buy a PC on a cash basis, or they can pay in installments of US$25 a month for a period of three years via their fixed line telephone bill, Al Swaiyel explained. “We have a major segment of the population who believe that the PC will be a major contributor to their home life,” he said. “Some of these either cannot afford it or they can afford it but they have other priorities, like buying a mobile. That is why we have two [payment] systems.” Al Swaiyel also said PC makers that have set up operations in the Kingdom will be favoured over other suppliers. “Those that have set up assembly lines stand to gain from this initiative, as they were there before the others,” he said. So far, HP and Acer are the only international hardware vendors to set up PC assembly plants in Saudi Arabia. According to recent figures from ArabDataNet, PC penetration in the Kingdom is a disappointing 6%, compared with 14% in the UAE and 16% in Bahrain. However, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) reports that the Kingdom boasts 1,500,000 internet users, or a 6.7% penetration rate.

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