Sanam Services
Ministry of finance- Customs

A. Problem Analysis

 1. What was the problem before the implementation of the initiative?
The trading community in Saudi Arabia was burdened with voluminous documentation and cumbersome processes. Managing system complexities entailed huge amount of resources while the manual data entry could potentially result in errors. Prior to the implementation of the SaudiEDI, the huge flow of information between businesses and agencies slowed down the trade cycle. Businesses were required to transact with various government agencies, which in turn, needed to pass information and documents to each other. This resulted in wastage in time and financial resources due to the lack of documentation and classified standards and data. Adding to the challenge was the initial skepticism among businesses over the government’s capability to implement and sustain an efficient IT infrastructure and processes. The lack of faith was primarily rooted in the population’s low IT appreciation and lack of large-scale Government to Business (G2B) e-Government initiatives from way back in 2001.

B. Strategic Approach

 2. What was the solution?
Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), under the ambit of the Ministry of Finance, wanted to promote its thriving business sector and enhance its international competitiveness. In pursuit of this objective, PIF needed to establish an integrated e-Trade system that would facilitate a more efficient and transparent communication system between businesses and government (B2G) and among government agencies (G2G). With a strong track record in developing world-first e-Government solutions such as TradeNet, CrimsonLogic, a leading provider for e-government solutions, was selected by PIF to build the business and technology infrastructure in the Kingdom, as well as to operate the initial phase of its e-Trade programme. The initial phase will target the import and export business through the Saudi Customs Agency, aiming to facilitate the business data interchange between all the related parties.

 3. How did the initiative solve the problem and improve people’s lives?
Measurable benefits to shipping agents, customs brokers and port contractors were seen after the initial phases of e-Trade Services were implemented. In the first year after the system went live, cargo clearance processing times were cut by over 50% in 2006. Government agencies have also seen costs saving and increase in efficiency as a result of the new processes. The cost of maintaining data entry kiosks has been eradicated, and errors caused by re-entering data have been reduced. There is now a better control with the consistent implementation of customs rules. Data sharing between agencies established a common communication channel between agencies. The benefits enjoyed by the private and public sectors rippled to the economy. By aiding interactions and feedback between Government-to-Government and Government-to-Business, the added efficiency was translated into an overall enhancement and competitiveness for the Saudi ports. As result, according to the World Bank’s ranking for the ease of doing business, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia moved up by seventeen notches during the period from 2007 to 2008.

C. Execution and Implementation

 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
The complexity of the SaudiEDI project called for a structured approach in delivering systems and processes that met local needs, while adhering to international standards and practices. Besides industry players, the Ports Authority, Customs Department, Coastal Guards, Statistics Department, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Commerce & Industry, and banks were engaged to participate in discussions, with the objective of providing a Single Electronic Window for trade. Drawing on its experience in implementing nationwide projects, CrimsonLogic embarked on building the trading platform. CrimsonLogic has identified import declaration and manifest submission as core services to be offered in the first phase, which was subsequently expanded to a full range of services required to modernize the trade process. The need for high availability and the ability to manage high transactional volume was met by building thin client Java-based applications delivered on an optimized UNIX environment. To ensure adoption of services, seminars tailored to the various needs of shipping agents, customs brokers, port contractors were held in big cities like Jeddah, Dammam and Riyadh. Also, small villages around borders like Alkhadra and Altwaal were involved in holding workshops and preparation sessions When the 24 ports become operational, the solution has handled more than 95% of the total trade transaction volumes in the Kingdom.

 5. Who implemented the initiative and what is the size of the population affected by this initiative?
Key stakeholders or beneficiaries of the SaudiEDI project include Government sector stakeholders like Saudi Customs Department (Strategic partner), Ports Authority, Department of Zakat and Income Tax (DZIT), Costal Guards, Statistics Dept, to name a few. Private sector stakeholders include Shipping Agents, Customs Brokers, Port Contractors, Train Operators, Private Labs, Express Mail Companies, and Traders.
 6. How was the strategy implemented and what resources were mobilized?
The project is fully funded by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), under the ambit of the Ministry of Finance.

 7. Who were the stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative and in its implementation?
1-Decreasing the time needed to process requests for Saudi Customs by automating all the processes electronically. 2- Cutting costs that related to paperwork between Traders and Saudi Customs. 3- Increasing the Kingdom’s international trade as result to the easiness of dealing with government agencies using SaudiEDI. Also, decrease the kingdom’s unemployment rate by hiring IT professionals. 4- Eliminating human-errors and increases public security as result to the automation of requests and validations. 5- Saving the environment by eliminating the use of natural and fossil resources, which were used for exchanging paperwork using transportations before deploying SaudiEDI.

 8. What were the most successful outputs and why was the initiative effective?
Project committee has deployed a long-run strategy and goals wrapped by standards and codes to ensure the achievement of the project objectives. The project committee hired both business and technical consulting firms to monitor and evaluate the process of implementing the project. The contracted consulting firms are working side by side with the implementation team to ensure the project principles are being complied as planned. Also, both consultants and project leaders are liable to submit reports about the project status on weekly and monthly basis to the committee.

 9. What were the main obstacles encountered and how were they overcome?
One of the big challenges was the initial skepticism among businesses over the government’s capability to implement and sustain an efficient IT infrastructure and processes. The lack of faith was primarily rooted in the population’s low IT appreciation and lack of large-scale G2B eGovernment initiatives from way back in 2001. To overcome these challenges, SaudiEDI team held conferences and workshops with cooperation from government IT officials to identify the capabilities of the government IT infrastructures for both investors and public community.

D. Impact and Sustainability

 10. What were the key benefits resulting from this initiative?
I. Time & Cost Savings and data errors minimizing as well as data sharing II. Increasing transparency, accuracy, accountability, efficiency, responsiveness and productivity III. Facilitating and re-engineering procedures to cope with the international evolvements IV. Increasing competitiveness of Saudi Ports V. Leveraging on IT by Supporting e-Gov program at the Kingdom and VI. Smoothen G2G & B2G interactions VII. Reduce the import cost and increase the export added-value contributing to a stronger economic growth and enhancing public services VIII. Providing added value of exports. (It has led to a 250% increase in the volume of trade transaction (from 2001 to 2008) IX. Increasing trade exchange and raising the level of trade balance X. Keeping abreast of the strategies for public benefit in the implementation of mega projects at the Kingdom such as transportation, economic cities. XI. Supporting decision-makers by providing fast and easy access to information and data XII. Accelerating the implementation of intergovernmental compacts: the World Trade Organization XIII. Optimum use of Information Technology in serving the National Economy

 11. Did the initiative improve integrity and/or accountability in public service? (If applicable)
The project is operating under Tabadul Co. and Tabadul was formed with license for 99 years with the ability of renewal. Therefore, the company is planning to continue the development of the e-trade project phase by phase as planned in the company’s constitution. The project is part of the company’s financial strategy to have the sufficient funds needed for developments of the project phases. Moreover, the project itself is profitable and can fund itself over the coming years as projected. It is also projected that the profits will increase with the deployment of new services in future phases.

 12. Were special measures put in place to ensure that the initiative benefits women and girls and improves the situation of the poorest and most vulnerable? (If applicable)
I. Garnering full support and cooperation of all the key stakeholders at various levels. II. Change management in terms of changing mindsets, work processes and tools. III. End-user training in terms of IT literacy and SaudiEDI applications. IV. Upgrading internet and telecoms infrastructure services in the Kingdom. V. Aggressive marketing, hand-holding ,support services recruitment and training of a competent and committed team. VI. Increasing our clients knowledge by conducting continues seminars and collecting feedback.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   Ministry of finance- Customs
Institution Type:   Government Agency  
Contact Person:   Meshal Al Sarhan
Title:   Project Manager  
Telephone/ Fax:   00966114377360
Institution's / Project's Website:  
Address:   Alrayyan - Riyadh, KSA
Postal Code:   11311
City:   Riyadh
State/Province:   Riyadh

          Go Back

Print friendly Page