Muscat: The government has completed the first phase of the industrial strategy project 2040, prepared in cooperation with United Nationals Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO)
In his speech at an event to to mark the Oman Industrial Day, Dr Ali Masoud Ali Al Sunaidy, Minister of Commerce and Industry (MOCI), said the strategy focuses in the manufacturing and export of chemicals, petrochemicals, fertilizers, plastics, spare parts, processed food, taking advantage of the strategic location of the ports and their proximity to the Indian Ocean.
The focus will be also on the capital intensive industries, including expansion of the basic industries, manufacturing of machinery and equipment, ships and modified trailers through foreign investment, taking advantage of the quantities of gas that have been discovered for the purpose of domestic industry.
Thirdly, the government also seeks to lay emphasis on the research and development related industries such as pharmaceutical products, medical equipment, perfumes, solar panels, health food and industries that benefit from registration and protection laws.
The second and final phase of the preparation of the 2040 industrial strategy, in cooperation with UNIDO, will focus on the investment and financing requirements of priority projects in the promising sectors, the development of mechanisms, work policies and their implementation as per a fixed timetable.
The minister added, previous industrial strategies focused on light manufacturing industries, metals and non-metallic industries, petrochemical and some IT-based industries.
But for the recently completed first phase of the Industrial Strategy 2040, experts have evaluated the ground reality of the industrial sector and identified the promising areas with a focus on a number of important segments such as the In-Country Value (ICV), employment opportunities for Omanis, the efficiency of factory workers and use of technology.
The preparatory meeting held a series of interactions with industrialists and experts.
The government continues to encourage the sector through expanding the processing of industrial zones in addition to facilitating the entry of equipment and raw materials for industrial purposes. The customs exemptions for industrial projects increased by the end of 2018 to 158 items compared to 63 in 2017.
To encourage research and development and develop creativity and innovation, especially among school and university students, researchers in various research centers and small businesses, the government has taken a decision last year to reduce the fee of IP registration services by up to 90 per cent.
The public Establishment for Industrial Estates (Madayn) will focus on private funding for expansion programmes to reduce the dependence on state budget.
The expansion will be based on the sustainability and economic feasibility factors for each industrial area, whether existing or new.
The private and the government sectors have been trying to explore the markets of the African continent in particular during the past three years.
Some industries still need to improve their environment to be more attractive to the national workforce. They should partly meet the energy needs during peak time through the installation of solar panels in the roofs of buildings and workshops, especially in the wake of an annual decline in the cost of purchase and installation of these panels to around less than 20 bz per kilowatt-hour, which is one third of the cost peak hours in the hot months. New and upcoming plants can modernize their production lines using innovative financing, including rental of machinery and equipment rather than purchase.
The government has already implemented the establishment of the Industrial Research Center in partnership at Sohar University. It will also provide training programs for cadres working in companies located in Sohar Industrial and other areas.
Discussions are under way with Sultan Qaboos University (SQU) to enter into a partnership and establish a center for applied research in the field of industry to be integrated with the units established by The Research Council and the private sector on the university campus.