Minister highlights role of digital technologies to combat COVID-19

Lyna Mohamad

Minister of Transport and Infocommunications Dato Seri Setia Awang Abdul Mutalib bin Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Setia Dato Paduka Haji Mohammad Yusof yesterday highlighted the initiatives using digital technologies in Brunei Darussalam to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The surge in usage for online services by the public, private sectors and consumers has become the new normal during the COVID-19 outbreak,” said the minister in his ministerial statement at the opening ceremony of the 2020 ASEAN-China Year of Digital Economy Cooperation via video conferencing.

The minister said by leveraging on current technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and big data, BruHealth – launched by the Ministry of Health – has enabled a real-time dashboard to quickly analyse population health conditions and emerging hotspots, and serves as the source of verified information and platform for online self-screening tool.

“COVID-19 came as a challenging undertaking that provides a deeper appreciation on the value of connectivity and communication. The surge in the demand for digital technologies has become an opportunity for Brunei Darussalam to reiterate our aspiration to become a Smart Nation,” said Dato Seri Setia Awang Abdul Mutalib.

He also shared recent developments in Brunei’s infocommunications sector including the restructuring exercise of consolidating network infrastructure under one wholly government-owned network operator which took effect on January 24.

He said this exercise has resulted in the surge in demand for fixed broadband by four times, while the usage of fixed data and mobile data has increased by 60 per cent and
23 per cent.

Minister of Transport and Infocommunications Dato Seri Setia Awang Abdul Mutalib bin Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Setia Dato Paduka Haji Mohammad Yusof attends the virtual opening ceremony of of the 2020 ASEAN-China Year of Digital Economy Cooperation. PHOTO: MTIC

“The government has also restructured its telecommunication regulatory and licensing regime by no longer imposing its annual licence fee for mobile service subscriber in Brunei Darussalam,” he added.

He also shared on the launch of the Digital Economy masterplan 2025 on June 4, where with the vision of Smart Nation through Digital Transformation, the Masterplan provides direction towards an impactful digital transformation across various economic clusters.

The minister added that the key technological developments such as big data, AI and 5G are among the main focus areas being pursued in Brunei to power sustainable innovation and progress.

Brunei Darussalam, in exploring the potentials and opportunities of 5G technologies, is now conducting a study through its National 5G Taskforce made up of government, industry and academic agencies to come up with recommendations from different perspectives.
“Brunei Darussalam places significant values and priority on regional collaboration and partnership.

“As we face a global pandemic, initiatives to advance digital economy become key to our economic and social resilience. Our dependency on connectivity and data has become more apparent.

“As the impacts from cybersecurity threats can be as damaging as a pandemic, it is through regional partnership and collaboration that mutual resilience is built and it is very pertinent for us to find a balance that advances the nation’s digital economy initiatives while preserving the network and data integrity,” the minister added.

He said regional cooperation in digital economy can be strengthened and enhanced to overcome the challenges from COVID-19 pandemic and to achieve a resilient social and economic development.

“Brunei welcomes continued exchanges in experience and knowledge as well as programmes and initiatives on digital economy under the ASEAN Digital Ministers Meeting + China platform,” said the minister.