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Opening Keynote Address 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
Local Business Development Program 2019 "The Next Level:
How to Leverage the Digital Revolution"
24 Muharram 1441 / 25 September 2019
Indera Samudra Grand Hall
The Empire Hotel & Country Club, Jerudong
Yang Amat Mulia Pengiran Muda Dr. Abdul Fattaah ibni Duli Yang Teramat Mulia Paduka Seri Pengiran Perdana Wazir Sahibul Himmah Wal-Waqar Pengiran Muda Mohamed Bolkiah, Chairman, Baiduri Bank;
Yang Mulia Dato Paduka Awang Timothy Ong, Chairman, Asia Inc Forum;
Permanent Secretaries, Deputy Permanent Secretaries, Chief Executives, invited speakers, Friends from the media, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen;
Assalamualaikum Warah Matullahi Wabarakatuh and good morning.
1. First and foremost, I wish to thank Asia Inc Forum for the very kind invitation for me to speak at this 13th Local Business Development Forum regarding "Brunei Darussalam's Journey Towards a Smart Nation". It is certainly encouraging and timely for this forum today to further stimulate ideas and improve business insights amongst local industry and corporate leaders in light of the digital revolution that is happening now.
2. Let me first share with you some facts and figures that will give you a context on how Brunei Darussalam is embracing and getting geared up for the digital revolution.
No. 1 – There are 134 mobile phone users for every 100 population in Brunei Darussalam.
No. 2 - Nearly 90% of those are using smart phones or devices.
No. 3 – More than 40% of businesses are found to fully capitalize on ICT.
3. Now I know that most of us here may have heard of these figures before, but I would like to reiterate that they are actually relatable facts to us. I am in a room filled with budding entrepreneurs who are raring to progress further by leveraging on digital technologies. The numbers I have just quoted are not just your customers, but they are in actual fact, as your potential platform to go beyond.
Ladies and gentlemen,
4. Let us now look at a bigger picture. For ASEAN in particular, embracing digital technology could prove to be key to a more dynamic, networked and innovative region by 2025. The changing landscape of the ICT sector signals a direction towards further innovation and digital transformation. As we have been made to understand, an ASEAN Digital Masterplan
2025 is expected to be launched by the end of this year. It is certainly hoped that with such focus and thematic initiatives, it will drive new economic activities as well as to realise the full potential of ASEAN.
5. In line with this ASEAN Digital Agenda, Brunei Darussalam has also geared up on its very own Digital Transformation policy initiatives. Our digital transformation journey started nearly 20 years ago in the year 2000 when the Brunei IT Council (BIT Council) under the steer of the Ministry of Communications then, embarked on a digitization plan for the nation.
6. Today, the journey still continues and evolves and I am pleased to share some of the recent significant milestones in our National Digital Transformation Agenda. A key starting milestone was the rebranding of the Ministry of Communications to be renamed as the Ministry of Transport and Infocommunications (MTIC) effective 15th December 2018. This new policy initiative highlights MTIC's commitments to ensure the increasing needs and expectations of the Transport and Infocommunications sectors are well taken into consideration for a more focused, industry driven development, to accelerate Brunei Darussalam towards the status of a Smart Nation.
7. This is in line with profound observations by His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam on the development of the digital industry. In a series of His Majesty's Titahs, His Majesty has also emphasized on the need to explore the Digital Economy and 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.
8. More recently, in His Majesty's Titah of 15th July 2019, consented to the formation of the Digital Economy Council (DEC). His Majesty further stated that a Digital Economy masterplan is being enacted for the purpose of making this country a Smart Nation.
9. Taking over the previous role of the Brunei IT Council, the key objective of this new Council is to give strategic drive and leadership on digital policies and initiatives at the national level. This Council is currently being co-spearheaded by the Minister at the Prime Ministers' Office and the Second Minister of Finance and Economy, and the Minister of Transport and Infocommunications. Members to the DEC amongst others comprise of several Ministers, members of the Legislative Council and local industry leaders. In line with His Majesty's Titah, I am pleased to inform that the Ministry in collaboration with the Council are currently charting a draft Digital Economy Master Plan as well as a draft Smart Nation Roadmap for Brunei Darussalam.
10. This is where the engagement from all stakeholders on a 'Whole of Nation' approach, including the private sector is very crucial. In this regard, I am also very pleased to share that the secretariat of the Digital Economy Council recently held its first Retreat which brought together government and private sector agencies to share and deliberate their respective initiatives as input to the draft Digital Economy Master Plan.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
11. In exploring the potentials of the Digital Economy, we are faced with new challenges that requires new approaches. One of the challenges is on Digital Divide. According to the ITU State of Broadband 2019 report, a "second level digital divide" whereby gaps continue to exist, even after infrastructural access is addressed. These gaps referred to other embedded structures such as limitations in skills, literacy, user empowerment and availability of relevant content.
12. Hence, this is where local businesses can actually play a very important role in complementing the efforts of the Government in addressing such gaps. By offering more services and products via digital technologies, this can be the motivation to generate new interests and sustain users' participation in the Digital Economy.
13. In further reducing the apparent gaps in Digital affordability and accessibility, in February 2019 the Government announced the consolidation of the network infrastructure of all existing telecommunication operators in the country under a newly formed company called Unified National Networks Sdn Bhd (UNN). With this new policy development, the ICT industry is on its way to provide a more competitive and innovative packages of services; spurring the development of Brunei's ICT sector which is critical to creating an ecosystem to support the digital economy and ultimately the country's digital transformation.
14. In this regard, it is imperative that we prepare our business community and also the government to be ready and well- equipped for the digital economy. What we want at the end of the day would be as follows:
i) to use digital technologies in order to create new opportunities for businesses and our people;
ii) what we need to do in terms of regulatory and physical infrastructure to support the transformation of the sector;
iii) we need to be inclusive where everyone can participate in the opportunities of the digital economy; and
iv) cybersecurity, where trust is vital especially for personal data protection. In this regard, coordinated efforts amongst the relevant agencies are currently in progress to set up a national cyber-security agency in Brunei Darussalam.
15. I would now like to share some perspective on future technologies and what policy initiatives are currently being done. On 5G readiness - The Authority for Info-Communications Technology Industry (AITI) has just completed its study on our nation's readiness to embrace 5G as the technology of tomorrow.
16. A set of policy recommendations from this 5G Study including market, regulatory and network operator readiness,
5G pilot projects, amongst others, has been endorsed and will be implemented in due course. In this regard, MTIC certainly welcomes the participation of the industry in the 5G pilot trials, or other pilot smart projects that will help in accelerating our national digital transformation agenda.
17. Before concluding, I would like to encourage all of you here to explore avenues on how we can work together from a Whole of Nation perspective. It is through this collaboration that we can only become a smart nation empowered by a digital economy!
18. Lastly, I wish to again extend my sincere gratitude to Asia Inc Forum and all its partners for convening today's forum. My thanks also go out to all our guest speakers and I wish you all a most enjoyable and productive forum!
Thank you. Terima Kasih.
Wabillahi Taufik Walhidayah Assalamualaikum Warahmahtullahi Wabarakatuh.
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