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Friday, 12 June 2020 - Press Release on Virtual Opening Ceremony for 2020 ASEAN-China Year of Digital Economy Cooperation

Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Awang Abdul Mutalib bin Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Setia Dato Paduka Haji Mohammad Yusof, Minister of Transport and Infocommunications, Brunei Darussalam attended the Opening Ceremony of the 2020 ASEAN-China Year of Digital Economy Cooperation via video conferencing on 12th June 2020.

The virtual Opening Ceremony was attended by Ministers responsible for the ICT sector and  Digital Economy from ASEAN and the People's Republic of China, as well as the Secretary General of ASEAN.

With the theme "Combating COVID-19 through Joint Efforts, Embracing Cooperation through ICT and Digital Development", the Opening Ceremony included opening remarks by His Excellency Dr Thansamay Kommasith, Minister of Posts and Telecommunications, Lao PDR as the Chair of ASEAN Digital Ministers Meeting (ADGMIN), and  His Excellency Dato Lim Jock Hoi, ASEAN Secretary General. 

The Opening Ceremony was then followed by speech by His Excellency Miao Wei, Minister of Industry and Information Technology, People's Republic of China which included the introduction on "Initiatives on Building a Partnership for the Digital Economy between ASEAN and China".

During the Opening Ceremony, Ministers from ASEAN and the People's Republic of China as well as ASEAN Secretary General exchanged views on the importance of digital technologies in supporting the measures to control the spread of COVID-19 as well as to strengthen cooperation in development and innovation in digital economy.

In his Ministerial Statement, the Minister of Transport and Infocommunications shared initiatives utilizing digital technologies that have been deployed in Brunei Darussalam to combat COVID-19 pandemic.  By leveraging on current technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Big Data, BruHealth, which was launched by the Ministry of Health, has enabled a real-time dashboard to quickly analyze population health conditions and emerging hotspots, and serves as the source of verified information and platform for online self-screening tool. The surge in usage for Online services both by the public, private sectors and public consumers has also become the new normal in the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak. This is very much facilitated by collaboration between Government agencies and the Telcos.

The Minister also shared recent developments in the infocommunications sector of Brunei Darussalam, which include the restructuring exercise of consolidating network infrastructure under one wholly Government owned network operator which took effect on 24th January 2020.  This exercise has resulted in the surge in demand for fixed broadband which has increased by four times, while usage of fixed data and mobile data have increased by 60% and 23% respectively. With effect on the same date, the Government has also restructured its telecommunication regulatory and licensing regime by no longer imposing its annual license fee for every mobile service subscriber in Brunei Darussalam.  

The Minister also shared on the launch of the Digital Economy Masterplan 2025 on 4th June 2020.  The Masterplan provides steer and direction towards impactful digital transformation across various economic clusters.  At this juncture, key technological developments such as big data, artificial intelligence and 5G are among the main focus areas being pursued in Brunei Darussalam to power sustainable innovation and progress. In exploring the potentials and opportunities of 5G technologies, Brunei Darussalam is now conducting a study through its National 5G Taskforce.  The Taskforce comprising of government, industry and academic agencies, is entrusted to come up with recommendations from different perspectives on 5G for Brunei Darussalam.

In this regard, the Minister stresses on the importance of digital economy in combatting the COVID-19 pandemic.  Regional cooperation in digital economy can strengthen and enhance the respective initiatives, not just to overcome the challenges from COVID-19, but also to achieve a resilient social and economic development.

As such, Brunei Darussalam welcomes further continued exchanges in experience and knowledge  as well as programs and initiatives on digital economy under the ASEAN Digital Ministers Meeting + China platform.

Also present during the Opening Ceremony were Yang Mulia Awang Haji Hairul Mohd Daud bin Haji Abdul Karim, Deputy Permanent Secretary (Infocommunications, Cybersecurity, Strategy and Corporate), Ministry of Transport and Infocommunications (MTIC), as ASEAN Digital Senior Officials Meeting (ADGSOM) Leader for Brunei Darussalam, Yang Mulia Awang Haji Jailani bin Haji Buntar, Acting Chief Executive, Authority for Info-communications Technology Industry of Brunei Darussalam (AITI) and senior officials from MTIC and AITI.