Initiatives keep country on track for Smart Nation aspirations

James Kon

The Authority for Info-communications Technology Industry of Brunei Darussalam (AITI) is preparing a law and planning the framework for Personal Data Protection governance.

Meanwhile, 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 consented to a 5G pilot project to be carried out at several locations in the country and will be implemented in the first quarter of 2021.

These intitiatives by the Ministry of Transport and Infocommunications (MTIC) were revealed by Minister of Transport and Infocommunications Dato Seri Setia Awang Abdul Mutalib bin Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Setia Dato Paduka Haji Mohd Yusof at a dialogue session with Legisltaive Council

(LegCo) members at the Al-Mahabbah meeting room of MTIC yesterday.

The minister said, “The ministry had several developments in policy, transport and infocommunications projects and new initiatives under MTIC in 2020.”

The minister shared notable achievements including the launch of MTIC Strategic Plan 2025 on April 16, 2020, the launch of Digital Economy Masterplan 2025 under Digital Economy Council on June 4, 2020 and the launch of Brunei Darussalam Road Safety Strategic Plan 2025 on December 28, 2020.

Minister of Transport and Infocommunications Dato Seri Setia Awang Abdul Mutalib bin Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Setia Dato Paduka Haji Mohd Yusof speaks during the dialogue session. PHOTO: JAMES KON

The minister said the objectives of the plans will be reviewed frequently to be in line with the aspirations of the country in becoming a smart nation.

He said, “Under Digital Economy Masterplan 2025, there are several projects to trigger the digital transformation process. Projects include: the National Information Hub as an easy information sharing platform; digital ID to enable public access to government services at any time; and Digital Payment Hub to ease payment processes using smart devices.”

In administration, the minister said, “Reviews were made to the organisational structure of MTIC from the incorporation of E-Government National Centre and Overall Government CIO (OGCIO) Division in the Prime Minister’s Office and Digital Nation Division under the Ministry of Energy (Energy and Manpower) on September 26, 2019. Also incorporated into the MTIC was the Brunei Research Council on December 5, 2019. The MTIC further expanded with the establishment of the Cyber Security Brunei on August 1, 2020.”

In e-learning, the minister said, AITI played a role in organising a donation drive for computers and tablets from April 13 – May 14, 2020 at Institute of Brunei Technical Education (IBTE) Saiful Rijal Campus, Jalan Muara and IBTE Jefri Bolkiah Campus, Kuala Belait. Ten local part-time workers were employed to provide technical assistance to AITI in carrying out repair works and maintenance of computer equipment to support online learning under the Ministry of Education (MoE).

Some 1,482 computers were received from local private companies and the public and were donated to MoE.

Similarly with the digital revolution in businesses, he said, AITI and DARe (Darussalam Enterprise) launched www.eKadaiBrunei.bn on April 1, 2020. It is an online directory providing an e-Commerce platform to delivery and logistics service providers as well as One Village, One Product (1K1P). Up until December 2020, 46 vendors have joined eKadaiBrunei.bn.

In relation to e-commerce, AITI also carried out a programme to educate and encourage small businesses to use online purchase and sales. The programme, previously only open to senior citizens, attracted 86 participants. From the workshop from August 24, 2020-November 25, 2020, 35 participants showed increased understanding in e-commerce. The participants can now use e-commerce mobile applications such as Heydomo, Gomamam and Ta-Pow to make transactions.

In terms of facilitating the delivery of goods, the government through several agencies including Postal Services Department has provided package collection assistance at Miri Post and Limbang Post. The assistance that started in April/May 2020 was handed over to the representatives and ‘runners’.

Touching on the telecommunications sector, he said, “Up until July 2020, we saw an increase in consumer demand for fixed broadband by 32 per cent and bandwidth utilisation increased by 52 per cent. Online services such as vehicle licence and driving licence renewal have shown increased usage. The renewal of driver’s licence in 2019 was 1,133 compared to 9,157 renewals in 2020. Some 8,913 vehicle license were renew in 2019 compared to 24,169 in 2020.”

He said, “The increase in usage of online services was further facilitated by renewal services now available by calling the Darussalam line 123 or e-mailing [email protected] or use TransportBN mobile application and assessing the official government website www.gov.bn.”

The minister said, “The cellular mobile subscriber licence fee of BND25 was abolished on January 24, 2020. It is also the Go Live Date for telecommunication provider companies like Datastream Digital Sdn Bhd (DST), imagine Sdn Bhd (imagine) and Progresif Sdn Bhd undergoing restructuring for better reliability, accessibility and affordability for the consumers.

In terms of cybersecurity, the minister said, “His Majesty consented to the establishment of Cyber Security Brunei (CSB) on August 1, 2020. It is one of the strategic enabler towards digital transformation by providing three services – BruCert, National Digital Forensic Laboratory and Cyber Watch Centre (CWC).”

The minister also highlighted air transport sector statistics. Like other countries, the aviation industry in Brunei is affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. From January 2020 to October 2020, total passenger movement is at 416,012, a decrease of 76.54 per cent from the previous year for the same period. Meanwhile, air cargo decreased by 58.24 per cent.

The minister touched on the 26th ASEAN Transport Ministers (ATM) meeting held on November 24, 2020 via video conferencing chaired by Brunei and the launch of Brunei Declaration on Road Safety 2020 as well as ASEAN Road Safety Video.

The minister spoke on the reduction in road accident fatalities in the country. “Thanks to the whole-of-nation approach, road accidents involving loss of life was reduced to more than 50 per cent from 29 fatalities in 2017 to 13 fatalities in 2019 and continued to decrease to 11 fatalities until November 2020.

Dato Seri Setia Awang Abdul Mutalib raised concern on the increase in vehicle fires and the issue of faded vehicle licence plates.

The minister said, “According to vehicle fire incident reports, there were 89 cases of fire involving 93 vehicles. It is the responsibility of vehicle owners to make sure that their vehicles are sent to the JPD (Land Transport Department) recognised workshops. JPD is working on a policy to deal with the issue and efforts are underway to raise public awareness.”

On faded licence plates, he said, “Several efforts were carried out to facilitate the changing of license plates with cooperation among the JPD, supplier companies and the public.

Permanent Secretary at the MTIC Haji Mohammad Nazri bin Haji Mohammad Yusof, Deputy Permanent Secretary (Infocommunications, Cybersecurity, Strategy and Corporate) at the MTIC Haji Hairul Mohd Daud bin Haji Abdul Karim and other officials were also present.