UN: Bahrain has best Arab telecom infrastructure

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How does the telecommunications infrastructure of ME rank alongside the rest of the world? Pretty well, if the results of a United Nations survey on e-government are anything to go by. Bahrain came first among countries in the ME region and an impressive third when included in the Asia region - one that includes world number one Korea, and also Japan, Australia and Taiwan.

Bahrain jumped to 13th spot globally, up 29 places in just a year in the annual survey which measures how well UN countries use IT and telecoms networks, and the density per capita and availability of broadband, mobile telephony and the suchlike. It's worth noting the rankings of Arab countries here:

1. Bahrain (13 globally - 42 in 2008)
2. UAE (49 - 32)
3. Kuwait (50 - 57)
4. Jordan (51 - 50)
5. Saudi Arabia (58 - 70)
6. Qatar (62 - 53)
7. Tunisia (66 - 124)
8. Oman (82 - 84)
9. Egypt (86 - 79)
10. Lebanon (93 - 74)
11. Libya (114 - 120)
12. Morocco (126- 140)
13. Algeria (131 - 121)
14. Syria (133 - 119)
15. Iraq (136 - 151)
16. Sudan (154 - 161)
17. Mauritania (157 - 168)
18. Yemen (164 - 164)
19. Somalia (184 - 183)

Reaction from Bahrain to the results was understandably very positive. Tunisia, Morocco and Iraq also had reasons to be proud of their ICT infrastructure with each countries hopping up the global rankings. The six Persian Gulf Cooperation Council states were well-placed, featuring within the top 8 Arab countries. However, I think the gap between Bahrain as the top Arab country and its top ten partners could be closed.

It's interesting to speculate how well these countries are doing in a drive towards e-government. While there's no doubt that 18 of the countries above have an infrastructure and are likely doing their best to increase broadband access in particular - which has been shown to boost economies - there are undoubtedly many of them that would want to move up the rankings next year. I wonder what they're missing?

Anthony Plewes

After a Masters in Computer Science, I decided that I preferred writing about IT rather than programming. My 20-year writing career has taken me to Hong Kong and London where I've edited and written for IT, business and electronics publications. In 2002 I co-founded Futurity Media with Stewart Baines where I continue to write about a range of topics such as unified communications, cloud computing and enterprise applications.