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Wednesday, 30 January 2019 - Speech by Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Awang Abdul Mutalib bin Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Setia Dato Paduka Haji Mohammad Yusof, Minister of Transport and Infocommunications, at the "Smart Future Forum"

Speech by


Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia

Awang Abdul Mutalib bin

Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Setia Dato Paduka Haji Mohammad Yusof,

Minister of Transport and Infocommunications


At the

"Smart Future Forum"

Theme - Innovation through Emerging Technologies



24 Jamadilawal 1440 / 30 January 2019


Indera Kayangan Ballroom

The Empire Hotel & Country Club, Jerudong

Yang Mulia,

Dato Seri Paduka Awang Haji Matsatejo Bin Sokiaw,

Deputy Minister of Energy, Manpower and Industry, and

Chairman of the Authority for Info-communications Technology Industry of Brunei Darussalam (AITI);


Yang Berhormat Dyg Siti Rozaimeriyanty binti Dato Seri Laila Jasa Haji Abdul Rahman,

Legislative Council Member, and Member of AITI;


Permanent Secretaries; Deputy Permanent Secretaries; AITI's Members of Authority, Chief Executives, Directors and Senior Officials, Invited Speakers, Friends from the media, Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen;


Assalamualaikum Warah Matullahi Wabarakatuh and good morning.


1.              15th of December 2018 marked a very significant milestone in the history of the communications sector in Brunei Darussalam. With effect from that date, by consent of His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, the Ministry of Communications has now been renamed as the Ministry of Transport and Infocommunications (MTIC), Brunei Darussalam.


2.              Alhamdulillah, this is a very meaningful development for us. It represents the start of a renewed journey for us towards further progress in our transport and infocommunications sector.

3.              It also comes at the right time, especially now that we are on the verge of the 4th Industrial Revolution, which will bring about a multitude of opportunities and challenges. This requires us to refresh and strengthen our policy approaches as we need to comprehend the nature and scope of the 4th Industrial Revolution.


4.              At this point, I would like to share some simple but yet very interesting facts:-


a.     The fixed line telephone which was developed in 1878 took 75 years to reach 100 million users;

b.     Mobile phones took 16 years after its emergence in 1979, to get 100 million users; 

c.      The internet which was launched to the public in 1990, took 6 years to reach 100 million users[1]; and

d.     Now Instagram, took just 2 ½ years after its launch in 2010 to reach 100 million users[2].   


5.         What these facts are telling us is the rapid pace at which changes are being adopted. Brought about by progress in technologies, these changes continue to emerge and engulf our daily routines at a very remarkable rate. 


6.          This rapid change and emergence of technologies are just amongst the signs of the 4th Industrial Revolution.  It is also when technological phenomenon resulted in our physical world being driven and very much facilitated by the profound ability of the digital world.  This is what we are now experiencing, to a certain extent.


7.        How is this even possible? At the end of 2018, 51.2 per cent of individuals, or 3.9 billion people around the world, were using the Internet[3].  On top of that, 29 billion connected devices are forecasted by 2022[4].


8.        These figures and prediction are indeed quite mind-boggling!  Brunei Darussalam like many other countries, is now enjoying a high level of infocomms connectivity.  Our mobile broadband penetration has gone beyond 100% since 2016 and by 2018 last year, has reached 130 users for every 100 people.  According to the ICT Household Survey published by AITI in 2016, 75 out of every 100 household in Brunei Darussalam has access to the Internet.


9.           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, in order to stay relevant and prepare ourselves for the implications from technological developments.


10.         Now, this has also been acknowledged at the highest level.  His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, in a titah during the 28th Teachers' Day Celebration last year, emphasized that the world is now experiencing the rapid development of technology, which has brought great changes to every aspect of life. His Majesty further stated that the development of the digital industry such as Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence and the development of smart robots are among those that has brought about these changes, especially in terms of employment, industry structure, social interaction and governance systems.


11.         On a different occasion, His Majesty has also emphasised on the response towards the 4th Industrial Revolution.  In a Titah at the 28th convocation of Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD), His Majesty called for the participation of all stakeholders, be it the public or private sector, the whole society, the academia and graduates to come together in mobilizing a knowledge-based nation.  


12.         Alhamdulillah, the profound observations on the 4th Industrial Revolution and wisdom by His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, has in fact, laid down the main policy directions for the Ministry's journey towards achieving the vision to be a Smart Nation.   This is a vision that would be journeyed and achieved together under a whole of nation approach by multi-ministeries, government and non-government agencies, as well as other stakeholders.


13.         What do we mean by 'smart' and what makes a city or a nation 'smart'? The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) defines it as follows:


"A Smart Sustainable City is an innovative city that uses ICT and other means to improve the quality of life, efficiency or urban operation and services, and competitiveness, while ensuring that it meets the needs of present and future generations with respect to economic, social and environmental aspects."


14.         We envisaged a nation where people live contented lives, enabled conveniently by technology, offering endless possible opportunities for all.   Living in a Smart Nation enables us to fully digitize things which are routine so that we can focus our efforts on the things that really matter to us - a more vibrant and diversified economy, as well as to improve quality of life for all Bruneians.


15.         This will be enabled by the Internet of Things (IoT), amongst others. With 20.4 billion projected number of connected IoT devices worldwide by 2020[5], we can only imagine how our everyday decisions can be facilitated.


16.         For example, there will be real-time road navigation which could reduce our travel time and make our journeys safer.  Real-time navigation can also make emergency response time faster, resulting in more lives saved and damages mitigated.  We can manage our home energy and utilities consumption and the list goes on and on. The possibilities are endless.                                         


17.         This is what we envisioned Bandar Seri Begawan to be, which is in line with ASEAN Smart Cities Network as established by the ASEAN Leaders at the 32nd ASEAN Summit in April 2018 in Singapore. 


As one of the 26 pilot cities listed under this network, we hope that smart applications and initiatives, will not only be concentrated in Bandar Seri Begawan, but rather to the whole nation.


Ladies and Gentlemen,


18.         A study by Huawei and Oxford Economics has estimated that in 2016, the global Digital Economy was worth 11.5 trillion US Dollars which is 15.5% of the global GDP.  With high digitalization, this is expected to rise to 24.3% of global GDP in 2025.


19.          This projection clearly indicates the significant opportunities that we can benefit from the Digital Economy.  As of 2017, the contribution of the info-communications sector to our National GDP stood at 1.6% against other kinds of economic activities[6].  Clearly there is still a large room for improvement for info-communications to be a significant contributor to the growth of our GDP and as a key enabler to the growth of other sectors.


20.         Hence this morning, the Smart Future Forum organized by AITI could not have come at a better time. Brunei Darussalam is now actively encouraging and embarking on researches, data analytics and smart initiatives across many sectors of the economy.   This Forum is, indeed, a very useful platform to learn on the global trends, strategic approaches and initiatives towards smart future.


21.          I am also very pleased to learn that AITI will be organizing a CyberShop Fest that will kick start on 1st February 2019, featuring our 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.   


22.         With Internet banking in Brunei Darussalam growing at 135%[7] as according to the Digital Payment Roamap 2019 – 2025 which was launched by AMBD, 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, 7 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.


Ladies and Gentlemen,


23.         In our drive towards preparing Brunei Darussalam as a Smart Nation, MTIC is taking on a comprehensive approach to maximize the potential of the digital economy.  This approach comes in four main aspects. 


24.         First is infrastructure improvement. This is a key component in order to create a secure and conducive environment to generate sustainable growth, productivity and facilitate businesses.  


25.         Clearly, for the transformation towards a Smart Nation to take place, a very robust telecommunications infrastructure is a critical requirement.  In a Titah on 15th  of July 2018, His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam highlighted that the Government is now reviewing the need to upgrade the telecommunications infrastructure in order to facilitate business, reduce cost of doing business and increase productivity.  The Ministry of Transport and Infocommunications is working very closely now with the Ministry of Finance and Economy as well as other relevant agencies on this matter. 


26.         The second aspect is on cybersecurity, which is a very important component in the Digital Economy.  In this regard, Alhamdullillah, His Majesty the 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.   


27.         Related to cybersecurity is the need on 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. 


28.         The third aspect is 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 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 industry.


29.          The fourth and final aspect is Engagement.  This, I feel, is the underpinning factor for all.  It is now crucial to have interaction and iterative processes with various stakeholders both domestic and international in order to achieve a holistic and thorough policy consideration. Hence, conducting continuous industry and government engagement, remains to be a policy priority for MTIC. 


Ladies and gentlemen,


30.          For Brunei Darussalam to become a Smart Nation, the support from the industry is paramount. Companies should look at these emerging technologies as new business ventures.


31.         As such, I would like to strongly encourage relevant stakeholders to collaborate and work together to showcase IoT and Big Data applications, through implementation of key pilot projects across various sectors.


32.         To conclude my speech today, I would like to leave you with a hope for us all here to explore avenues on how we can work together from a Whole of Nation perspective, to realize our vision to become a Smart Nation.  I firmly believe that by working together and learning from each other, we can become smarter and achieve more than what we could otherwise would.


33.         In closing, I would like to extend my thanks to AITI for organizing this inaugural Forum.  My sincere appreciation to all our moderators and speakers for being here and sharing their expertise and knowledge with us.  I thank all our guests and participants for joining us and I wish you all a most enjoyable and productive forum.


Thank you. Wabillahi Taufik Walhidayah Assalamualaikum Warahmahtullahi Wabarakatuh.




[3] Measuring Information Society Report 2018, ITU


[5] Smart Cities: Digital Solutions for a More Livable Future, McKinsey Global Institute

[6] Brunei Darussalam Key Indicators 2017

[7] Digital Payment Roadmap for Brunei Darussalam, 2019 – 2025, AMBD

Created at 31/01/2019 10:04 by Dk Dewi Najayati Pengiran Hj Shahrir
Last modified at 31/01/2019 10:11 by Dk Dewi Najayati Pengiran Hj Shahrir