Bahrain launched, on 12 January, a new four-year strategy to push ahead with digitalising the economy, including the telecoms and information technology (IT) sectors. The 2022-2026 Telecommunications, Information Technology and Digital Economy Strategy is in line with the objectives of the Economic Recovery Plan.
Present were, and National Cybersecurity Centre chief executive Shaikh Salman bin Mohammed Al Khalifa.
“Telecommunications and IT are a priority for the government as they are not only important to boost national production and create jobs, but they also play a crucial role in bolstering key economic sectors such as logistics, financial and tourism, among others,” said Transportation and Telecommunications Minister Kamal Ahmed.
“The world is transitioning towards a digital economy and if we want to increase the competitiveness of our national products on the global stage, we must invest in implementing sustainable technology in our sectors.
“The backbone of any sustainable digital economy is a solid soft infrastructure which includes networks and telecommunications which facilitate our communication with each other and the world. With the increased use and dependence on data we are focused now on Bahrain’s connections to more international networks while also enhancing alternative routes to make communications more resilient.”
The Cabinet earlier approved list of 1,294 services and tasked a team to ensure their availability online on the government portal www.bahrain.bh. Major services, including the issuance of visas, marriage certificates, identity documents for new-borns and post-construction services will also be re-engineered.
Kamal explained that the strategic goals focus on improving Bahrain’s overall global position in the e-Participation index of the UN eGovernment Survey. The Minister added that the strategy will also work towards establishing a world-class digital infrastructure, by developing cybersecurity standards, attracting big-tech companies, and becoming a regional digital innovation hub.
He affirmed that the newly launched ICT and Digital Economy Strategy would pave the way to increase the efficiency of government services through e-transformation, digitising documents, moving to e-payments, and expanding the use of Artificial Intelligence, while strengthening public private partnerships.
He highlighted the main pillars of the strategy which include developing the telecommunications infrastructure, supporting digital economy, enhancing e-governance, and developing digital capacity.
The minister said that key performance indicators had been set to measure the success of the implementation of the strategy by 2026. Bahrain aims to increase the number of ICT sector start-ups by 20%, automate an additional 200 government services, increase national employment in the sector by 35% and train at least 20,000 citizens on cybersecurity.
Information and eGovernment Authority (iGA) chief executive Mohammed Al Qaed said: “The iGA has several initiatives, programmes and projects in the pipeline to positively impact the economy and develop the performance of services provided in line with current developments.
“Electronic governance is one of the key objectives that iGA is focusing on through a full digital transformation of all government documents and certificates created in Bahrain or abroad. We will also further develop the eKey services and provide more options which serves a large portion of society while protecting their data and facilitating the provision of services and electronic payments.”
In November, Bahrain launched an ambitious Economic Recovery Plan to stimulate post-pandemic growth which will see more than USD30 billion invested in national infrastructure and strategic priority sectors.