Manama, July 23 (BNA): Deputy Prime Minister Shaikh Khalid bin Abdullah Al Khalifa said that Bahrain’s financial sustainability initiatives provide a roadmap that supports economic growth and competitiveness in the long term.
Speaking to the Oxford Business Group (OBG) in an interview published in its 2023 Annual Report, he said the Economic Development Board (EDB) attracted $1.1 billion in direct investment in 2022 from a total of 88 companies. He said this is expected to create more than 6,300 jobs by 2025.
The Deputy Prime Minister emphasized the importance of public-private partnerships, which form a major part of the government’s plans.
He pointed out that the Kingdom is working to achieve efficient and effective governance by changing the role of the government from an operator to a regulator, while enabling the private sector to help advance economic development.
Regarding digitization, Sheikh Khalid said that Bahrain’s strategy aims to increase the number of startups in the field of information and communication technology by 20%. automation of an additional 200 government services; Increasing national employment in the sector by 35%; and training at least 20,000 citizens in cybersecurity to support the digital economy by 2026.
Below is the full text of the interview:
To what extent does Bahrain lead towards sustainability in shaping strategies to attract investment?
Several financial sustainability initiatives aim to encourage foreign direct investment. The economic recovery plan, which was launched in 2021, includes a roadmap that supports economic growth and competitiveness in the long term. The plan includes 27 programs under five main pillars: launching major strategic projects; Develop priority sectors by launching various strategies; increase the efficiency of business procedures; achieving financial sustainability and economic stability; Providing good job opportunities for Bahrainis.
The plan also aims to increase foreign direct investment by more than $2.5 billion by the end of 2023 by streamlining business establishment procedures and supporting the development of a skilled local workforce to make the kingdom an attractive base for investors. The Bahrain Economic Development Board attracted a record $1.1 billion in direct investment in 2022. This investment came from a total of 88 companies and is expected to create more than 6,300 jobs by 2025.
The Kingdom also pledged to achieve carbon neutrality by 2060 with temporary environmental goals, to join the global efforts in combating climate change. These goals are integrated into ERP, as are concurrent strategies to promote sustainability and achieve goals, such as the National Renewable Energy Action Plan.
In what ways can public-private partnerships (PPPs) help meet future labor market needs?
Public-private partnerships are a major part of government plans, including Bahrain’s Economic Vision 2030, which was launched in 2008. The kingdom is working towards effective and efficient governance by changing the government’s role from operator to regulator, while enabling the private sector to help drive economic development. To this end, the government issued standards regulating partnership between the public and private sectors in 2022 and entered into strategic partnerships with private institutions, international companies and agencies in a variety of fields, including cloud computing, electronic services, software development, and electronic payment solutions.
The public-private partnerships included in the ERP aim to create quality employment opportunities for the local population and enhance their skill sets to meet the evolving needs of the labor market. Bahrain has also put in place initiatives to encourage private sector growth. On top of facilitating foreign investments, the kingdom supports start-ups, small and medium enterprises through Tamkeen, a semi-autonomous agency that supports private sector development. In 2019, the Tamkeen Development Program disbursed more than BD 29 million (US$ 76.9 million), benefiting about 1,700 Bahraini companies, 93% of which were small and medium enterprises.
How would you describe the country’s long-term vision of digitization as enabling social and economic development?
The Telecommunications, ICT and Digital Economy Sector Strategy 2022-26 aims to transform services through digital technologies, while enhancing the sector’s environment and encouraging adoption. Through this strategy, the country aims to increase the number of ICT startups by 20%; automation of an additional 200 government services; Increasing national employment in the sector by 35%; and training at least 20,000 citizens in cybersecurity to support the digital economy by 2026.
The Kingdom has launched several initiatives to support digitization efforts, including the Tamkeen Innovation Program, which provides support for digital startups in research and development, prototyping, product testing and launch. Another example is Citibank’s Global Technology Hub, which aims to create 1,000 coding jobs by 2033.
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