New four-year strategy for digital economy outlined

A NEW four-year strategy to push ahead with digitalising the economy, including the telecoms and information technology (IT) sectors, has been announced.

The 2022-2026 Telecommunications, Information Technology and Digital Economy Strategy is in line with the objectives of the Economic Recovery Plan.

Details were revealed yesterday during a Press conference held at the Isa Cultural Centre in Juffair.

Present were Transportation and Telecommunications Minister Kamal Ahmed, Information and eGovernment Authority (iGA) chief executive Mohammed Al Qaed 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 Mr Kamal.

“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 had earlier approved list of 1,294 services and tasked a team to ensure their availability online on the government portal

Major services, including the issuance of visas, marriage certificates, identity documents for newborns and post-construction services would also be re-engineered.

Mr Kamal highlighted that enhancing the digital policies and legal framework was critical to developing the digital infrastructure whilst also ensuring comprehensive fibre-optics coverage across Bahrain’s residential and commercial areas.

He added that revamping the infrastructure included protecting networks while modernising telecom towers in accordance with international standards, developing administrative regulations and monitoring the frequency spectrum in addition to developing the Sixth National Telecommunications Plan.

Also among the speakers was Labour Fund (Tamkeen) chief executive Hussain Rajab and Industry, Commerce and Tourism Ministry’s Assistant Under-Secretary for Commercial Registration and Companies Nibras Talib.

“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,” said Mr Al Qaed.

“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.”

New developments will include an option to allow the online authorisation for individuals to conduct services on behalf of others.

Plans are underway to further develop existing government applications while also creating new ones which bring together more comprehensive services that are easy to access, widespread and efficient.

Mr Rajab said that efforts are in full swing at Tamkeen for a comprehensive digital restructuring of all programmes, initiatives and strategies carried out by the Labour Fund.

“We are sparing no efforts towards enhancing the role of IT in achieving e-trade and creating a sustainable digital economy and transitioning digitally,” said Mr Talib.

“Awareness and trust in the system are critical for its success and we are working towards offering value-added services in collaboration with the private sector to facilitate a digital transformation.”

In November, Bahrain launched a bold and ambitious Economic Recovery Plan to stimulate post-pandemic growth which will see more than $30 billion invested in national infrastructure and strategic priority sectors.




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