Bahrain first leads region in e-Government survey
Bahrain has been ranked first in the Gulf and wider Middle East in a United Nations e-Government survey. The 2010 UN Global e-Government Readiness Survey placed the Kingdom 13th of 192 countries worldwide in its application of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) to provide access and inclusion for its citizens.
Bahrain has climbed 29 places from 42nd in 2008 in the survey, which considers e-Government development in the context of the overall economic and social development of a country. According to Shaikh Mohammed bin Essa Al Khalifa, Chief Executive of the Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB), the ranking further demonstrates Bahrain’s commitment to achieving the ambitions of the country’s National Economic Strategy and Vision 2030; both are designed to encourage further private sector growth, support further diversification of the economy and ultimately elevate national living standards by creating greater opportunities for Bahrainis.
“In Bahrain, we have taken a leadership role in promoting e-Government Development. As the UN notes, this is a function of not only a country’s state of readiness but also its technological and telecommunication infrastructure, together with its level of human development. This advanced ranking shows the capacity and willingness of the public sector to deploy ICT to provide improved information and knowledge for Bahrainis. And it demonstrates our commitment to creating an attractive business environment for international companies looking to access the trillion dollar market of the Gulf.”
Bahrain – which outperformed the world average across the e-Readiness, Web Measure, Infrastructure, Human Capital and e-Participation measures of the global index – is one of the Gulf’s technological pioneers. The Kingdom was the first in the Middle East to install a computer (1978); completely digitise its national and international phone switches (1992); hold an online referendum (2001); introduce smartcards (2005); fully liberalise its telecommunications market (2004); and to go nationwide with WiMax wireless networks (2007). In March 2009, Bahrain jumped eight places to 37th of 134 economies in the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Global Information Technology Report.
Shaikh Mohammed added: “In Bahrain, we have long recognised ICT not just as an important sector in its own right but as an important enabler of continued economic growth, modernisation and competitiveness.”