Brunei prepares for Smart Nation future and digital revolution

|     Azlan Othman     |

INFRASTRUCTURE improvement, cyber-security, agility and engagement are the four main approaches in the drive towards preparing Brunei Darussalam as a Smart Nation, to maximise its digital economy potential, said Minister of Transport and Infocommunications Dato Seri Setia Awang Abdul Mutalib bin Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Setia Dato Paduka Awang Haji Mohammad Yusof.

The minister made the remarks during the officiating of a two-day Smart Future Forum at the Empire Hotel & Country Club, yesterday.

Elaborating, he added, “Infrastructure improvement is a key component to create a secure and conducive environment to generate sustainable growth, productivity and facilitate businesses.

“On cybersecurity, it is a very important component in digital economy. In this regard, Alhamdulillah, 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 has also consented for the appointment of the Minister of Transport and Infocommunications to be the Minister-in-Charge of Cybersecurity. With this recent development, coordination efforts amongst the relevant agencies are currently in progress.

“Related to cybersecurity is the need for safeguarding personal data. As cities become ‘smarter’, they retain more and more of their citizens’ data, leading to concerns about the security of data protection measures.

Minister of Transport and Info-communications Dato Seri Setia Awang Abdul Mutalib bin Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Setia Dato Paduka Awang Haji Mohammad Yusof. – BAHIYAH BAKIR

“On agility, with the Fourth Industrial Revolution looming ahead of us, it has made the need to be agile more apparent, not just for the private sector, but it is equally important for the public sector as well. Hence, we need to look into our governance, processes and frameworks. We need to ensure that they are responsive and relevant to the needs of the industry.

“The final aspect is engagement, which is the underpinning factor for all. It is now crucial to have interaction and interactive processes with various stakeholders, both domestic and international, to achieve a holistic and thorough policy consideration. Hence, conducting continuous industry and government engagement, remains to be a policy priority for the Ministry of Transport and Infocommunications (MTIC).”

Dato Seri Setia Awang Abdul Mutalib also noted that Brunei Darussalam, like many other countries, is currently enjoying a high level of infocommunications connectivity.

“Our mobile broadband penetration has gone beyond 100 per cent since 2016, and by 2018, has reached 130 users for every 100 people. According to the ICT Household Survey published by AITI in 2016, 75 out of every 100 households in Brunei Darussalam have access to the Internet.

“Hence, with this high level of connectivity, Brunei Darussalam is also presented with the need to adapt to digital technologies. Now this is a necessity for us, to stay relevant and prepare ourselves for the implications from technological developments.”

Dato Seri Setia Awang Abdul Mutalib also announced the start of AITI’s CyberShop Fest tomorrow, featuring several local online vendors. “This initiative empowers our local SMEs to participate in the digital economy, and provides a more enriching experience for our society in the move towards a Smart Nation.

“With Internet banking in Brunei Darussalam growing at 135 per cent as according to the Digital Payment Roamap 2019 – 2025, launched by Autoriti Monetari Brunei Darussalam, I believe this initiative will garner a lot of support.

“According to the E-Commerce Survey in Brunei Darussalam 2018 Report published by AITI, out of a sampling of 1,000 users, seven out of 10 of those surveyed are e-commerce users. This data shows the high level of e-commerce usage in Brunei Darussalam which has the potential to go further still.”

The Smart Future Forum aims to raise more awareness on the benefits and opportunities of driving innovation and digital growth in Brunei Darussalam.

Carrying the theme ‘Innovation through Emerging Technologies’, the Smart Future Forum explores how innovation relies on technology in countless ways. The forum also provides a valuable avenue to share ideas and approaches, as well as developing and communicating experiences and knowledge, in adopting Smart Nation initiatives for use in Brunei Darussalam.

Also in attendance at yesterday’s opening were Legislative Council member Yang Berhormat Siti Rozaimeriyanty binti Dato Seri Laila Jasa Haji Abdul Rahman, Deputy Minister of Energy, Manpower and Industry Dato Seri Paduka Awang Haji Matsatejo bin Sokiaw, in his capacity as the Chairman of AITI; and Chief Executive of AITI, Pengiran Haji Mohd Zain bin Pengiran Haji Abdul Razak.

The two-day forum brings together experts and speakers, from both local and international organisations such as the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), Asia Pacific Network Information Centre (APNIC); Singapore’s Smart Nation and Digital Government Office (SNDGO) and Infocommunications Media Development Authority (IMDA) and Brunei Shell Petroleum Company Sdn Bhd (BSP) as well as local telcos Telekom Brunei Berhad, Datastream Technology Sdn Bhd and Progresif Cellular Sdn Bhd; speakers from industry players such as Huawei Technologies Sdn Bhd and Ericsson; speakers representing the academia from Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD) and local startup company, Madgrow Tech Brunei.