Omar Bani Fayyad, ICT Programme Manager, Networking, at Bahrain Polytechnic, explores how Bahrain can continue to find growth and prosperity in its ICT sector.
Launched in 2008, Bahrain's Vision 2030 set the course for the Kingdom's economic growth and development. Its three guiding principles were sustainability, competitiveness, and fairness. Within this, the growth of the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector was highlighted as a strategic priority for the Kingdom and its people. Twelve years later, we have started to see the fruits of the seeds planted by this country's visionary leadership.
Bahrain today is on track to become one of GCC's most innovative ICT hubs, given its success in attracting foreign investment, business-friendly regulations and policies, and the development of advanced infrastructure. According to a recent report, spending in the ICT sector in Bahrain is poised to reach $2.1bn by 2024. Furthermore, the Bahrain Economic Development Board confirmed that approximately 134 companies entered the Kingdom in 2019, which would likely result in a total investment of $835 million in sectors such as ICT, among others. This investment is projected to create more than 6,000 jobs in the next three years alone.
To fuel this growth of the ICT sector, Bahrain will require a large, highly-skilled, and technically qualified talent pool that can fulfill this demand and contribute to the Kingdom's growth, prosperity, and successful transformation into a digital economy of the future. This talent pool will be majorly made up of the promising youth of this country. The onus of producing work-ready young professionals is squarely on educators and academic institutions such as ourselves.
To achieve this monumental task, the government has underlined the importance of strengthening relationships between private industry and educational institutions. There is so much that we stand to gain from leveraging public-private partnerships (PPPs), and it can bolster our youth's confidence in joining the local and global labor market.
Much like the Vision 2030, Bahrain Polytechnic addresses the need for a skilled Bahraini labor force to support our economic growth and diversification. Within the ICT sector specifically, Bahrain Polytechnic's courses are backed by industry partnerships with esteemed global organizations. Our partnership with global technology pioneers Huawei, for example, helps make our graduates technically qualified and increases their employability. Private entities like Huawei are world-class leaders in the ICT field, and our collaboration with them provides us an opportunity to acquire advanced industry knowledge, learn best practices, and gain access to the most cutting-edge technologies.
In the end, PPPs help educational institutions to introduce our students to real-world applications of advanced technologies, making their transition from the classroom to the workplace seamless. Access to a skilled workforce that has roots in the local market will, in turn, benefit these global organizations, making it a win-win for all. The collaboration between government entities, educational institutes, and private companies can help unlock the ICT sector's multi-billion-dollar potential in Bahrain and help us realize the Kingdom's vision.