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Digital masterplan spurs innovation, 5G integration

Several initiatives have been implemented to promote the adoption of emerging technologies and create an enabling environment for innovation to thrive under the Brunei Digital Economy Masterplan 2025.

These include the development of improved Internet connectivity including expanding fibre-optic networks and deploying the latest mobile technology. With the rollout of 5G recently, the 5G services are now available through local telecommunication companies.

This was highlighted by Deputy Permanent Secretary (Transport) at the Ministry of Transport and Infocommunications Haji Mohammad Salihin bin Haji Aspar at the roundtable discussion: Connectivity Pillar Enhancing Cross Border Trade and Economic Cooperation  in the BIMP-EAGA at Bridex Hall yesterday in conjunction with BIMP-EAGA Trade Convention 2023 (BETCON 23).

To date, 90 per cent of populated areas are covered by 5G-ready mobile network and it is expanding for nationwide coverage to allow equitable access to essential services and boost economic opportunities. The introduction of 5G services also enable enhanced digitalisation among individuals, businesses and communities.

Others include the establishment of network infrastructures and the creation of a Commercial Data Centre aimed at providing innovative services for increased productivity.

Deputy Permanent Secretary (Transport) at the Ministry of Transport and Infocommunications Haji Mohammad Salihin bin Haji Aspar tours a booth during BETCON 23 at Bridex Hall. PHOTO: AZLAN OTHMAN

Positive progress has also been made in the legislation such as the Cyber Security Order and a Personal Data Protection Order (PDPO).

He also highlighted programmes like the Digital Innovation and Startups Ecosystem, which offers incubator support, mentorship, and co-working space for facilitating the growth of digital innovation and startups.

The number of Priority Infrastructure Projects (PIPs) such as infrastructure, including roads, railways, ports, airports, information and communication technology, power interconnections, and urban development in the Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) has increased from 57 in 2017 to 126 by June 2023 amounting to USD34.45 billion. As of June 22, Transport portfolio dominates 63 per cent (79 out of 126) of the sub-regional cooperation, highlighting its critical importance.

Haji Mohammad Salihin added, “Our leaders also welcomed the resumption of air, land, and sea connectivity in BIMP-EAGA and encourage key stakeholders to work together especially the private sector for the full resumption of the suspended routes as well as the expansion of viable new routes to service passenger traffic and movement of goods.”

He also noted the recent signing of the memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the BIMP-EAGA Business Council (BEBC) Brunei and the Muara Port Company Sdn Bhd, to leverage the potential of maritime connectivity by utilising Muara Port as one of the hubs to facilitate Trade, Tourism, and Investments (TTI) in BIMP-EAGA (Intra-EAGA) and beyond (Extra-EAGA).

The deputy permanent secretary also said, “Our leaders also highlighted the pivotal role of ICT in achieving a digital economy and thus are committed to intensifying BIMP-EAGA’s digital transformation and preparedness for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR).”

He also hopes that the private sector will take advantage of these infrastructure including the agreements and MoUs in place in BIMP-EAGA, explore potential opportunities for collaboration and partnership as well as work together with BIMP officials to promote and facilitate trade and economic development throughout BIMP-EAGA. – Azlan Othman