| Azaraimy HH |
TWENTY-ONE ministers responsible for Information and Communication Technology (ICT) from the Asia-Pacific region have agreed on the adoption of Brunei Darussalam Statement on “Building Smart Digital Economy Through ICT” after the two-day Asia-Pacific ICT Ministerial Meeting wrapped up at The Empire Hotel & Country Club yesterday.
In the statement, members were called on to reaffirm their commitments to collectively work towards building a smart digital economy through ICT in the Asia-Pacific region, to achieve sustainable development and further improve the quality of life of people, among other things.
The meeting was organised to commemorate the 35th Anniversary of the Asia-Pacific Telecommunity (APT) – a leading intergovernmental organisation for the development of telecommunications and ICT in the Asia-Pacific region.
The meeting involved over 200 delegates including 21 ministers, four vice ministers, two deputy ministers, two permanent secretaries, high-level representatives of APT members, as well as associate members and affiliate members of International Telecommunication Union (ICU).
Speaking at a press conference yesterday, Pehin Orang Kaya Hamzah Pahlawan Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Abdullah bin Begawan Mudim Dato Paduka Haji Bakar, the Minister of Communications, highlighted that over the past five years, APT members have shown impressive progress in their telecom and ICT in accordance to the five key objectives of the Bali Plan of Action.
The APT has played a key role in fostering regional cooperation and arranging projects, forums and training courses to support APT members’ achievement.
The Brunei Darussalam Statement draws six key priority areas that are crucial for a smart digital economy in the region – (1) Conducive Policies for Sustainable Growth of ICT and Smart Digital Economy; (2) Safe and Secure Society through ICT; (3) Trust and Confidence in ICT; (4) Sustainable ICT Ecosystem for Innovation; (5) Capacity Building and Institutional Development; and (6) Fostering Regional Cooperation for ICT Development.
The minister said APT members are encouraged to implement initiatives in the key priority areas and to collectively work towards building a smart digital economy through ICT to achieve sustainable development of the Asia-Pacific region and further improve the quality of life of the people.
In the statement, the 21 ministers responsible for ICT from the Asia-Pacific region also praised the initiatives, contributions and the substantial achievements that have been made by the APT and its members to achieve the objectives of the Bali Statement of the Asia-Pacific Ministers on Strengthening Regional Collaboration towards a Broadband Economy in the Asia-Pacific.
The ministers also acknowledged the commitments made by the leaders at the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) held in Geneva in 2003 and in Tunis in 2005, to harness the power of information and communication technologies to “create, access, utilise and share information and knowledge” in order to achieve sustainable development and improve the quality of life of people globally in their efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.
The ministers also noted that the Asia-Pacific region has progressed well in broadband infrastructure and services development.
The statement said: “We also take note of the APT’s support for its members in bridging the digital divide that has resulted in sustainable ICT growth.
“However, there is still a vast gap in broadband penetration and ICT development among the various countries of the region.
“This digital divide needs to be bridged because lack of adequate broadband connectivity and ICT accessibility poses great difficulties in harnessing the full benefits of the digital economy. The least developed countries, landlocked developing countries and small island developing states, continue to need further support in this regard.”
The ministers believe that in harnessing the power of information and communication technologies to create, access, utilise and share information and knowledge, the cultural and social values should be respected.
In the statement, the ministers recognised that the convergence of communications, computing, and content enabled by the availability of broadband infrastructure, mobile communications, the Internet, and its myriad of applications has a great impact on the lives of the people and the socio-economic development of the region.
“This new digital economy can be stimulated with smart utilisation of ICT supported by capacity building programmes, enabling policies and the regulatory environment.
“The digital economy needs to be safe and secure to improve the quality of peoples’ lives and meet the needs of society,” it added.
The ministers also expressed their determination to strengthen their cooperation and collaboration to realise a policy and regulatory environment that will be the basis of a creative and innovative economy.
“Innovation is the key to enhance our region’s competitiveness and needs to be encouraged at all levels through a conducive ICT environment,” they said.