Advancing as a Smart Nation requires undertaking a holistic and comprehensive exercise of digital transformation, which is where the Digital Economy Masterplan 2025 comes in, as a digital economy means more than just connectivity.
This was said by Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Transport and Infocommunications Haji Mohammad Nazri bin Haji Mohammad Yusof, who delivered a speech on behalf of Minister of Transport and Infocommunications Dato Seri Setia Awang Abdul Mutalib bin Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Setia Dato Paduka Haji Mohd Yusof, during the Borneo Bulletin Yearbook (BBYB) Networking Session yesterday.
“The Digital Economy Masterplan 2025 is the roadmap and main reference document, as the people work towards elevating Brunei Darussalam to the status of a Smart Nation,” he said.
“Digital economy comprises digital and non-digital initiatives and activities, transcending across all economic sectors and activities. Simply said, a digital economy is for everyone and by everyone.
“The preparation of the Digital Economy Masterplan 2025 went through an iterative process with various stakeholders, where consultation and dialogues are the core that make up the essence of the Digital Economy Masterplan 2025.”
The speech also highlighted His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam’s titah in conjunction with the monarch’s 74th birthday, which emphasised on the need for digital technologies, including for learning, businesses and governance, which would eventually transform Bandar Seri Begawan into a Smart City.
Towards this, His Majesty has consented to the Digital Economy Masterplan 2025 under the Ministry of Transport and Infocommunications (MTIC).
The Masterplan will focus on the digitalisation of both government and industry, while building a thriving digital sector equipped with the necessary manpower development. The Masterplan has identified key enablers that will support the realisation of these plans through the establishment of a Smart Nation platform, development of key policy and regulatory frameworks such as data governance and cybersecurity, as well as efforts to strengthen research and digital technology development.
As the country shares the same observation in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the digital agenda has been pushed to the forefront, and restrictions put into place to curb the spread of the pandemic have inevitably become a catalyst for digital transformation.
The speech also noted several statistics recorded since January 2020 in support of the observation, where mobile broadband subscription increased by over 35,000 subscribers; the number of fixed broadband subscriptions increased by 32 per cent; an almost 52 per cent increase in bandwidth utilisation; and a significant increase in government online services and mobile app users such as for the TransportBN mobile app – which can be used for the renewal of driving and vehicle licences – has recorded close to 20,000 online transactions from January to July 2020.
There are still areas for improvement, where the backbone for a promising uptake is the quality of the nation’s ICT infrastructure, and under the collaboration between the Ministry of Finance and Economy (MoFE) and the MTIC, the ICT industry of Brunei Darussalam has undergone a significant restructuring exercise.
Since January 24, 2020, users have enjoyed more innovative and competitive services from the three retail providers – Datastream Digital, imagine and Progresif, all powered by the infrastructure integrated under Unified National Networks Sdn Bhd (UNN).
To complement the ICT industry’s restructuring, effective from January 24, 2020, with the consent of His Majesty, the BND25 annual Cellular Mobile Subscriber Licence (CMSL) fee was abolished.
The initiative is a policy reform towards making Brunei Darussalam a Smart Nation and also one step to make telecommunications services more accessible and affordable for the public.
“The quality of our ICT infrastructure has also increased as indicated in the recent UN E-Government Survey Report for 2020. Brunei Darussalam is in 60th position from 193 countries,” he said.
“Although the report suggested areas of improvement, it has recorded an increase in the Telecommunications Infrastructure Index (TII) points for Brunei, with the leap from 0.65 to 0.82. This places Brunei at the Top 2 in ASEAN for Telecommunications Infrastructure.”
To encourage the growth of digital initiatives, the MTIC is focussing on strengthening key enablers for digital economy initiatives such as data protection.
Data is a substantive component in management and policymaking in the era of digital economy.
“It is now time to move and mobilise our resources towards digital transformation. On our part, the MTIC, through the Smart Nation Office, is working closely with various stakeholders in advocating digital transformation.”
Meanwhile, Brunei Press Sdn Bhd General Manager Hazizah Osman revealed that with a circulation of over 50,000, the Borneo Bulletin Yearbook (BBYB) has become the sought-after business guide to Brunei Darussalam, with the BBYB website registering 2.2 million page views and six million hits.
Hazizah said the yearbook underwent a rebranding exercise four years ago, focussing more on business and investment opportunities.
“Through discussions and feedback, we started the BBYB networking sessions in 2017,” she said.
With the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Hazizah said the Borneo Bulletin Yearbook 2021 themed ‘Looking Ahead – A Nation United’, highlights the country’s united efforts in curbing the spread of the coronavirus.
“The success of the yearbook for the past 27 years is attributed to the demand for a comprehensive guide to Brunei. As we evolve further to cater to the fast-changing market, we look forward to your continuous support,” she said.
This year’s BBYB Networking Session held its first Dialogue with the Permanent Secretary, themed ‘Moving Forward as a Smart Nation’. It featured booths from Bank Islam Brunei Darussalam (BIBD), DST, imagine, Laksamana College of Business and Progresif, providing opportunities for information-sharing among participants.