A KPMG report on ‘The Cost of Doing Business in the GCC’ in the ICT sector has found that Bahrain has the most liberalized and competitive IT sector in the region. It also leads on most indicators for the cost of doing business in the GCC region – a market worth $1.5 trillion. Crucially, the report revealed that Bahrain has lower costs than any other GCC country for cross-border internet connectivity, a critical metric for an ICT hub.
Overall, the total average cost of operating in Bahrain for ICT dependent enterprises was 16% less than the GCC’s average. Key findings from the report include:
- The average annual cost of operations for cross-border internet connectivity in Bahrain is $126,000, compared to the average for GCC which is $233,400
- Commercial rental costs for office space in Bahrain are lower, compared to other GCC countries – $43,800 for Bahrain, compared to an average of $86,480 for the GCC
- Overall commercial utility costs (electricity and water, internet and telephone services) in Bahrain are 25% lower compared to the average GCC utility costs.
These statistics further substantiate Bahrain’s ambition to address the needs of overseas investors and enterprises looking to take advantage of advanced digital business infrastructures, free from stringent regulation. Recent policy reforms have been introduced to enable start-ups to test, innovate and scale quickly, establishing Bahrain as a fast-growing, highly-connected business hub with accessibility at its core. Examples include improvements to the regulatory environment, including updating the bankruptcy law; introducing the data protection law; adopting a cloud-first policy; reducing the minimum capital requirements for starting a business. All the above are important steps the Government has taken to enable a thriving digital economy.
Dr. Simon Galpin, Managing Director, Bahrain Economic Development Board commented: “Our liberal and advanced ICT infrastructure, supported by a strong track record of reform and deregulation, has ensured Bahrain is consistently positioned at the top of global ICT readiness indices, including being ranked first in MENA by the ICT Development Index. Our Cloud First commitment and the launch of the Middle East’s first hyper-scale data center by AWS will further advance our ICT readiness, opening up new sectors, increasing productivity and enabling businesses of all sizes to scale faster at a lower cost. This recent report from KPMG is a testament to our innovative and progressive approach.”
In addition to analyzing the cost of business and living, the report from KPMG further comments on the incentives for the IT sector in GCC jurisdictions, revealing that the EDB, which has recently won the United Nations’ Investment Promotion Award for its partnership with Amazon Web Services’ (AWS). Additionally, the Government has recently launched a “Cloud Computing scheme” that will provide 100% financing support of the cost for any Bahrain-registered business subscribing to a hyperscale data center for 18 months. This offer forms part of a wider initiative to position Bahrain as regional ICT hub, an effort unique to a region which has historically relied upon oil prices to generate wealth.