The goal for the iktva program is for it to even further cement itself as the driver for all of Saudi Aramco’s procurement awards.
“The journey started five years ago and now I think that everybody understands the concept and they know that Saudi Aramco is serious about it. I am seeing a lot of involvement. They are very much engaged with iktva,” adds Al Shammary.
This is evidenced by the enthusiastic participation of manufacturers and suppliers at the annual iktva Exhibition and Forum at the Dammam Expo. Attendance has been growing year- on-year since the event was first launched.
“And now we are reaching 55%, and our target for this year is 56%, so we are only 1% short and we are going to reach it,” Al Shammary proudly states.
“We were at 30% five years ago, so there has been a jump of almost 30%. That’s a great achievement and that is because all of the management in the company is behind iktva.
“They care about improving the local economy, and most importantly, ensuring the reliability of the company by having the surrounding supply chain and the ecosystem surrounding Saudi Aramco,” says Al Shammary.
“We have seen the benefits of this after the recent incidents. Because we had suppliers and manufacturers nearby, we got things quickly and were able to fix things in a short period of time.”
A well-stocked inventory crucial
He cites the reliability of the company and having suppliers nearby and having a well-stocked inventory as crucial.
“In the future, we want to reduce that inventory and have it within the local market. The company should not be carrying that load of inventory. That should be in the market and that is what iktva is all about.”
The Ras al-Khair maritime anchor project, King Salman Energy Park, PlasChem, Jazan Economic City, and other industrial parks dotted across the Kingdom are examples of great efforts to provide best-in-class infrastructure to attract investment and stimulate the development of subject matter experts.
“Actually, what is happening on Ras al-Khair is major because it is an anchor project,” notes Al Shammary. “The government is building the infrastructure so that there is a ‘plug and play’ environment for investors. So the port, utilities, everything is there to encourage investors to come and build, like the engines for the ships, like the casting and forging.“
He recognizes casting and forging as great enablers for localization.
“The whole energy sector is there nearby so that they can localize the ecosystem nearby. There will also be a dry port, so all of that ecosystem and the infrastructure that we are building is to encourage the investors to come and do business.”
Such projects, Al Shammary believes, will help iktva, localization, and also Saudi Aramco. To provide skilled manpower, Saudi Aramco, in partnership with the Technical and Vocational Training Corporation, has set up 16 technical academies — a number that will rise to 30 across the Kingdom.
“These academies are there to ensure that the investors and the suppliers have access to Saudis who are qualified,” he says.
“So suppliers and contractors have no excuse now. Saudi Aramco is strong in training and these academies are open for everyone. That’s another example of the company extending its support to the surrounding ecosystem.
“So, I will say to contractors to access the manpower from a particular academy. In that way, I am a link between the academies and the manufacturers and suppliers.
'Holistic and collective' pathway
In summation, Al Shammary describes iktva as “a holistic and collective” pathway to localization, Saudization, improving R&D, and the development of subject matter experts.
“We give credit to those suppliers or contractors who develop subject matter experts because they are the basic element for the big guns,” he explains.
“We want the suppliers to help with this development. The subject matter experts are a major factor, and another is exports. We encourage them to not just build for Saudi Aramco, but to build for the region and elsewhere.
“So, if they export from the Kingdom, they get an iktva score because in the end, if they manufacture here they will hire Saudis. We also want the suppliers to be continuously working because Saudi Aramco cannot commit all of the time to suppliers. In between, they have to guarantee an outlet for themselves.”
The iktva formula evolved over the years to accommodate what motivates the suppliers and contractors to excel and make it a successful program.
“I am passionate about it, because it is something that will make this company stronger. Iktva keeps me motivated every day. I feel that I am adding something to the company and to the country,” says Al Shammary