New laws set to shape e-commerce ecosystem in Bahrain

The kingdom’s exceptional telecom infrastructure enabled the resurgence in e-commerce during the Covid-19 pandemic

Image used for illustrative purpose. Online shopping, woman in cafe shopping online with laptop

Image used for illustrative purpose. Online shopping, woman in cafe shopping online with laptop

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MANAMA: Three focus areas have been identified by the government as part of the national strategy for e-commerce, revealed a top minister.

Industry, Commerce and Tourism Minister Zayed Alzayani said reform in laws and procedures, organising the value chain of e-commerce and enhancing public awareness and confidence are the three key areas that the ministry is working on as part of the national strategy for e-commerce.

Speaking during a virtual discussion organised by the ministry in partnership with stc Bahrain yesterday, the minister said the government’s vision is to create an integrated environment for e-commerce (ecosystem) and making Bahrain the preferred hub for e-commerce in the region.

This, said Mr Alzayani, will be achieved by simplifying policies and regulatory frameworks, improving consumer confidence in e-commerce, and supporting small and medium enterprises through a set of initiatives.

One of the initiatives included in the strategy was the launch of last April which includes more than 200 stores selling their products and services online.

Several major brands in fashion, homeware and electronics joined the platform for electronic sales and purchases, after stores were closed to combat the spread of Covid-19, with the government-run website not charging retailers any fees.

Talking about the role of telecommunications companies in accelerating digital transformation in industry and commerce, the minister said the ongoing fourth industrial revolution (4IR), also known as Industry 4.0, relies majorly on information and communications technology.

The phenomenon is a way of describing advances in artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, the Internet of Things (IoT), 3D printing, autonomous vehicles, e-health, smart homes and financial technology (fintech).

Mr Alzayani said Bahrain has been an early adopter of 5G or the fifth generation of mobile networks allowing for large volumes of data transfer with minimal lag, and designed to connect virtually everyone and everything together including machines, objects and devices.

The kingdom’s exceptional telecom infrastructure enabled the resurgence in e-commerce during the Covid-19 pandemic, he added.

“This was the sector’s greatest opportunity for rapid development to keep pace with the changes in consumption patterns. Technology has created alternative solutions to many traditional methods like online collaboration and development tools.”

The minister called on SMEs to adopt e-commerce channels, go for an accelerated business continuity plan, and ensure cybersecurity.

“The ministry is looking forward to the evolution of the consumer into an e-consumer with increased confidence in domestic e-commerce and online transactions,” he said.

Also speaking during the event, stc Bahrain chief executive Nezar Banabeela said digital transformation will continue to promote co-operation between public and private sectors to develop infrastructure and create new job opportunities.

“Digitalisation brings together government and private sectors and introduces innovative methods that lead to pushing national development and sustainable growth for the business sector and society. That will support us in pursuing the continuity of projects and increasing their flexibility to expand their scope at all levels,” he added.

According to Mr Banabeela, the extraordinary circumstances created by the pandemic offered many challenges, and at the same time highlighted the many new opportunities.

“In order to adapt to the current situation, the pace of digital transformation has increased in all areas of industry and trade, which was one of the most important changes required to restore the concept of workflow, especially in the current situation. Companies have also included new virtual services to make their operations easier.”

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