The Brunei population, including senior citizens, are adapting to the new normal by embracing digital technologies. It enabled the elderly to stay active in society including having health consultations, participation in religious activities and communicate with their loved ones online.
This was stated by Minister of Transport and Infocommunications Dato Seri Setia Awang Abdul Mutalib bin Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Setia Dato Paduka Haji Mohd Yusof in a message to mark World Telecommunication and Information Society Day (WTISD).
The minister highlighted that one of the initiatives to help develop digital competencies for individuals including senior citizens is Digital Skills Training Programme for Senior Citizens conducted by Authority for Info-communications Technology Industry of Brunei Darussalam (AITI) since January 2020, supported by the Ministry of Transport and Infocommunications (MTIC), the Ministry of Education (MoE), the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports (MCYS) and the private sector. The programme has since helped over 100 senior citizens to be part of a digital-ready society by offering basic information and communication technology (ICT) skills training including e-commerce, security and safety, and online banking.
Dato Seri Setia Awang Abdul Mutalib said the Sultanate remains committed in its effort to build an inclusive digital society.
“Senior citizens play a vital role in society by passing down their knowledge, wisdom and experiences to the younger generation. By enabling a more digitally conducive environment for all age groups, we strive to ensure that no one gets left behind and offline as we continue to drive Brunei Darussalam to become a Smart Nation.”
The usage of digital technologies has significantly increased, especially recently during the COVID-19 pandemic situation to ensure health and well-being of the society. This has led to greater demand for digital solutions, services and has also called for the need to acquire basic digital skills.
By September 2021, about 80,000 fixed broadband household subscribers have been recorded translating to almost 76 per cent of households in Brunei. The Sultanate, along with other International Telecommunication Union (ITU) member countries, commemorates WTISD annually on May 17. This year’s theme is ‘Digital Technologies for Older Persons and Healthy Ageing’, to highlight the important role of ICT in enabling the senior citizens to stay healthy, connected and independent, enabling them to participate in and to contribute to the society.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recently shared that between 2015 and 2050, the proportion of the world’s population over 60 years will nearly double from 12 to 22 per cent.
In Brunei, the rate of ageing in the country is also increasing. As of 2021, 10.1 per cent of the total population (43,301) are 60 years old and above, compared to 5.7 per cent (22,386) in 2011.