The BF9 (Business Forums -9) organized and held their annual joint event for the BF9 Summit and Exhibition. The event was previously BF6, but with the birth of the Lebanese, Portuguese, and Spanish business councils, the platform has now evolved to being BF9.
The 9 Business Councils include The American Business Council – AmCham Kuwait, the Australian Business Group, the British Business Forum, the Canadians in Kuwait, the French Business Council, the German Business Council, the Lebanese Business Council, the Portuguese Business Council, and the Spanish Business Council.
Industry Day Summit started with a presentation done by Dr. Khaled Mahdi, General Secretariat of the Supreme Council of Planning and Development who spoke about Kuwait’s history as a trading hub, its evolution as a country, and modern Kuwait. Dr. Mahdi also highlighted that Kuwait must consider sustainable practices of the past, and consider prosperity sources from the present, to have a sustainable prosperous future. Dr. Mahdi also spoke about Kuwait’s 2035 Vision and the national transformation strategy which includes 7-pillars: effective public administration, creative human capital, sustainable diversified economy, strong progressive infrastructure, high-quality healthcare, sustainable living environment, and exceptional international positioning, which will allow Kuwait to continue being a prosperous country.
Kuwait’s National Development Plan (KNDP) involves improving Kuwait’s global competitive index, transforming the government’s enabling role, accelerating private sector growth, increasing the private sector’s participation in GDP, and achieving sustainable development goals. Dr. Mahdi finalized his presentation by speaking about Kuwait’s roadmap as he spoke about Kuwait’s previous successes which included some changes and modifications to policies that allowed for the ease of doing business in the country, as well as some of the future upcoming major projects which will be handled by entities such as the Public Authority for Housing and Welfare, the Kuwait Authority for Partnership Projects (KAPP), the Kuwait Direct Investment Promotion Authority (KDIPA), and KIPIC.
Dr. Mahdi’s presentation was followed by the Ambassadors’ panel which included: H.E. Sheikh Abdullah Sabah Homoud Al Sabah (Assistant Director General for Investment Operations) of KDIPA, H.E. Melissa Kelly (Ambassador) of the Embassy of Australia, H.E. Marian Wrba (Ambassador) of the Embassy of Austria, H.E. Aliya Mawani (Ambassador) of the Embassy of Canada, H.E. Claire Le Flecher (Ambassador) of the Embassy of France, H.E. Hans-Christian Freiherr von Reibnitz (Ambassador) of the Embassy of Germany, Mr. Ahmad Arafa (Charge d’Affaires) of the Lebanese Embassy, H.E. Miguel Moro Aguilar (Ambassador) of the Spanish Embassy, Mr. Alexandre Guyot (Deputy Head of Mission) of the Swiss Embassy, H.E. Belinda Lewis (Ambassador) of the British Embassy, and Mr. James Holtsnider (Charge d’Affaires) of the United States Embassy. The discussion was moderated by Dr. Arezou Harraf (Founder of Learn & Evolve) in which they spoke about trade achievements between both countries (Kuwait and those present on the panel), renewable energy initiatives, major upcoming projects in Kuwait, and investment opportunities within Kuwait and the countries on the panel.
Kuwait has several projects in the pipeline which are looking to bring in more foreign direct investment, including the Abdali Economic Zone, Al Na’Ayem Economic Zone, Al Wafra Economic Zone, and several other projects which will look to ultimately create economic diversification.
As the panel discussion heavily highlighted renewable energy, Eng. Waleed Roy, Head of the Science Technology Partnership and Agreements Office at the Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research (KISR) held a presentation on Kuwait’s current Energy Map highlighting that Kuwait’s primary energy supply is exclusively based on oil and gas (currently), as 90% of the country’s revenues come from oil and oil derivatives export. Eng. Roy spoke about the mitigation strategy which included enacting energy efficiency, management measures and deploying renewable energy techniques to meet at least 15% of the energy demand by 2030. Mitigating opportunity cost by freeing up more oil /products to the international markets through the deployment of renewable technologies is crucial, as new businesses will create new job opportunities. Eng. Roy also spoke about the role of energy in Kuwait’s research and development history, as he discussed the Shagaya Renewable Energy Park project in West Kuwait which is estimated to be finalized in phase 4 by 2030. To finalize his presentation Eng. Roy addressed the benefits of renewable energy which include economic diversification, energy security, and reducing carbon emissions, as well as the ways forward which involve modifying current regulations in order to enable renewable energy and smart grid technologies to easily enter the market.
Eng. Waleed Roy went on to moderate the energy panel session on renewables which included Anwar Al Mutlaq, Country Chair of Shell, Anar Aliyev, VP of Kuwait & Qatar of BP, Herbert Klausner, Managing Director of Siemens Energy, Jorge Jesus Perez, Country Manager of Grupo TSK, and Adriana Reais Pinto Former Advisor to the Secretary of State for Environment and Energy of Portugal. The panelists spoke on strategies for implementing renewable energy sourcing/usage and job creation, economic sustainability, and diversification.
The second session of the summit was opened by Eng. Nayef Alhaddad Manager of Research and Strategic Planning at the KAPP. Eng. Alhaddad spoke about the public-private partnership (PPP) framework from Kuwait in detail, which included the legal framework, the organizational framework, and the procedural framework. Eng. Alhaddad spoke about the PPP project cycle of Kuwait: 1. Preparation of the project proposal, 2. Assignment of transaction advisor, 3.Preparation of the feasibility study, 4. Announcement of the project and EOI, 5. Preparation and release of the request for quote (RFQ) documents, 6. Evaluation of submitted SOQs, 7. Preparation and release of the request of proposal documents (RFP),8. Selection of preferred bidder and negotiations and lastly 9. The signing of the PPP agreement and financial closure.
Eng. Alhaddad also spoke about the parties involved in each of the states of the PPP project cycle, and about the importance of private sector entities understanding the process in order for them to get a better idea of the time schedule for each of the steps in the cycle. Eng.Alhaddad highlighted some of the milestones that Kuwait has achieved through the PPP program, one of the latest one being the Umm Al-Hayman sewage plant, and he spoke about the upcoming pipeline for this year which includes: Al Zour North phases 2 and 3, Al Khiran phase 1, Al Shagaya Renewable Energy Complex phase 2 and 3, North Kabd and all related works, and the Fixed Communications Network Project. To finalize his presentation, Eng. Alhaddad informed the audience that KAPP also welcomes unsolicited proposals, especially within the health, education, renewable energy, and transportation sectors, as there are several advantages and incentives for private entities engaging in PPP in Kuwait.
Eng. Alhaddad’s presentation was followed by the opening of the second highlighted topic of the day, done by Dr. Mussaad Al-Razouki, Chief Development Officer of Kuwait Life Sciences who presented on the current healthcare trends, challenges, and opportunities for Kuwait. Dr. Al-Razouki highlighted the lifestyle of the population has had an increase in demand in the healthcare sector, including the increase of male smokers in the country which is projected to be at 33% by 2025. Obesity and physical inactivity are also crucial variables on why demand has increased within the healthcare sector. Dr. Al-Razouki also spoke about the upcoming hospital projects planned within the GCC which account for $17.8 Billion USD, as well as $17 Billion USD that currently remains in the pipeline. To finalize the presentation, Dr. Al-Razouki spoke about some of the challenges in the healthcare sector in the GCC which include the risk of excess bed supply, as well as the preference for the population to get medical treatment abroad.
Dr. Al-Razouki then moderated the healthcare panel which included Dr. Faisal Al-Refaei, Chief Operating Officer of the Dasman Diabetes Institute, Dr. Vassillis Bakoyiannis General Manager of Roche Diagnostics Kuwait, Head of Levant and Iran at Roche, and Tamer Elsallab, Head of Gulf and Levant at Viatris. Panelists discussed the evolution of healthcare including hospital care and the pharmaceutical industry, and spoke on adapting digitization within healthcare, the trends of healthcare, and supporting the digitization strategy for Kuwait’s healthcare sector.
Panelists also highlighted the importance of preventive care (including preventive medicine) and education, as these will enable a healthier population, which is in line with Kuwait’s 2035 vision.