Digital infrastructure development is crucial towards economy digitization

Manama, As Bahrain is moving to digital transformation, the provision of digital infrastructure will remain a starting point towards digitization of the national economy.

Kamal bin Ahmed, Minister of Transportation and Telecommunications, during a ministerial session at the opening day of two-day BBK Digital Economy Forum and Expo 2020 highlighted the importance of the developing the digital infrastructure to fuel the digitization process.

Despite Bahrain's towering ranking being the fourth globally in the ICT infrastructure and also being the first many years ago for rolling out 2G, 3G and 4G in the region, the importance of developing the necessary infrastructure remains a key towards digitization of the economy, he said.

Joined by Zayed Al Zayani, the Minister of Commerce, Industry and Tourism, during the debate, Kamal bin Ahmed urged the private sector to take a leading role in this national endeavor.

Bahrain will be first country to implement the 5G at national level, he said, and rejected the idea of over-regulation. The regulations are good when and where they are needed, the minister said.

Explaining the six pillars towards digitization, infrastructure being the first, the minister said regulations serve as the second pillar while data, being the third pillar, would fuel the growth by utilizing the Artificial Intelligence (AI), technology etc.

The fourth pillar, the development of human capital which he sees as a very crucial step while the fifth pillar will remain to create a demand for the startup and other businesses and the initiatives to provide access to the capital are few but important step towards digitization. The sixth pillar is the efficiency at the government level by introducing automation and offering quality services and e-government initiatives have had earned a global acclamation, he said.

The minister touched upon a very important point as he explained the implementation of state-of-the-art technology by leading companies such as ALBA, Bapco, GPIC and others.

We import all these technologies and have not been able to develop any technology in Bahrain and this grey area has to be addressed at the Higher education level. In Bahrain we never have had research and development (R and D) at high education level, while this should have been part and parcel of the educational institutions to develop the innovation and technology development, he said.

The BBK Digital Economy Forum and Expo 2020 is organised by BBK under the patronage of the Central Bank of Bahrain and supported by the Bahrain Institute of Banking and Finance (BIBF). The forum introduces an innovative platform about the importance of digital transformation to revolutionize the economy.

It brought together various sectors including health, education, banking and finance, Government and other stakeholders to analyze the impact of Digital Transformation on the national economy.

Al Zayani started his discussion by saying the time has come to see the elephant in a room, arguing that denial aspect is irritating and outdated. Touching upon the importance of changing the mindset, he said that the change happening around you should not be ignored, rather take such changes as a challenge moving forward.

The Kingdom of Bahrain is on the crossroad on shaping up of the economy and every change should be seen as an opportunity by resisting 'protectionist' approach. The Kingdom of Bahrain has witnessed many strides from pearl age to Banking boost in 1970's and we need to focus of change of mindset. The younger generation is very much able to take on the challenge of change and Bahrain needs to become an innovation hub in the region by utilizing its huge talent. Also, the use of data as a tool could be another big opening towards this journey of digitization, he said.

Reyadh Sater, Group CEO of BBK, said that the global economy is undergoing an unprecedented digital transformation and it is happening at an extraordinary speed.

The backbone of the digital economy is hyper connectivity which means growing interconnectedness of people, organizations, and machines that results from transactions and machines technology. BBK is proud to bring forth the latest concepts that will boost digital knowledge and familiarity to improve business in the market, he said.

The CEO announced the opening of the BBK's first digital branch at Bahrain City Centre making the important milestone of BBK's commitment to offer digital services and continue advancement in line with the Kingdom's vision of digital economy.

Source: Bahrain News Agency