BUILDING THE ECOSYSTEM

Kuwait 2017 | INDUSTRY | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Abdulkarim Taqi, General Manager of Public Authority for Industry (PAI), on attracting capital, boosting GDP, and empowering the local workforce.

Abdulkarim Taqi
BIOGRAPHY
Abdulkarim Taqi currently serves as the General Manager of PAI. Previously, he served as IT department manager from 2005-2015 and designed more than 17 applications that enhanced authority performance. In 2014, he was awarded best leading character for communication and telecoms, and again in 2015 for best leading character for public administration in Dubai. He was a part of the Kuwait Industrial Strategy Plan committee and has more than 25 certifications in the IT field and in management. Taqi is also a board member of the EPA and the IBK.

In September, PAI announced its plans to boost Kuwait's industrial output by 12% in the coming years. As the sector currently contributes around 9-10% to national GDP, how do you envision growing this stake and what are the strategies and the specific sectors?

Our real national GDP is 4%, and when we add the oil sector it can reach 9%, which should not be added because it is not the sector we want to see growth from. The growth the country is looking for should come from the industry sector. We aim to achieve 12% growth through our strategic plan and policies by targeting specific sectors, such as petrochemicals, food, renewable energy, and fourth-generation manufacturing, such as 3D printing and robots, as well as by planning industries and creating industrial cities in order to give us a clearer picture of what we own.

How can Kuwait use its vast resources to drive surrounding industries?

We should look to our industrial economic entities, for example EQ8, which is a good example of downstream production. Because of the importance of the raw materials we have in Kuwait, namely oil, we can make the industrial sector more sustainable. To this end, we have certain criteria for the sector, namely adding value to the sector, investing capital, front and back integration, important replacement, national employment, and competitiveness. With these focuses, we hope to diversify domestic industry and attract capital.

What sectors are attractive to foreign investors, and what synergies do you strive for between multinationals industrial players, national giants, and SMEs?

The Kuwait Direct Investment Promotional authority (KDIPA) has the responsibility of attracting foreign companies to establish factories in Kuwait, and through bilateral cooperation we inform major global industries how to be successful in the country. We are mainly targeting unique manufactures in the region, including high-tech and worldwide names. We plan to create industrial organization plans that specify zoning for foreign industries, among other preparations. In addition, we are trying to learn the language of a new economy and understand the trends in the industrial sector around the world through cooperation with countries that have been successful regionally, such as the UAE and Saudi Arabia, and globally, such as China.

How do you envision the New Kuwait initiative governing policy at your organization?

Human capital is the main element to make the initiative a success. We need to create a new initiative that manages the outputs of the education sector and classifies them in different field. For example, high school students can be trained to do skills relevant for work in factories, like what is being done with STRATA in Abu Dhabi. At the same time, we plan to cooperate with the Ministry of Education to select the 100 best students to receive special training in global factories for the purpose of teaching administration in the industrial sectors and developing a kind of trade protectionism.

What are your ambitions for the year ahead?

I believe we have the ambition and an adequate infrastructure to rebuild our industrial sector. We want the sector to be a success story, one of competitiveness and one that involves the entire country. Industry should be a legitimate alternative to oil and one that secures the economy for the future, adds value, and provides opportunity. We hope to create a clear ecosystem that will support the sector.