5 years on, 80% of Brunei’s $1b IT fund not spent

National 2 minutes, 4 seconds

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

ONLY about a fifth or less of the $1-billion pledge, made five years ago by the government for Brunei's information technology sector, has been spent to this day.

The reason is that there is not enough IT expertise in the government sector, said Shiekh Abas Shiekh Mohammad, deputy chairman of Info-Comm Federation Brunei.

This, he said, points to the need to expedite local efforts to produce more IT-competent workers.

The government's commitment is significant in developing the sultanate's IT industry by efforts such as stimulating the IT private sector, ensuring IT knowledge is being spread at a national level and developing IT-competent human resources.

Talking to The Brunei Times, Shiekh Abas said that it is just a matter of realising the IT industry potential.

"The government must be the big player and take other private sector-driven countries as examples to follow. We must be brave to take certain risks when developing a sector, nothing is permanent but change," he said, citing countries like Singapore and Malaysia who he said learned through trial-and-error in developing their IT industries.

Developing the private sector also will help attract foreign investors, he added.

The Info-Comm Federation Brunei, formed in August this year, can be used as a platform by both the government and private IT sectors.

"We are all here to work with the real IT players. The federation as a whole becomes one voice of many, we come to the government as a team," he said, noting that it currently has 11 founding members which include establishments such as TelBru, BAG Networks and telecommunications company DST.

Developing IT knowledge, he added, will not only boost the industry but help address issues like unemployment.

"We need to train the government senior people how to use the Internet, something like a national service, have everyone certified to surf," he said, citing countries like Finland and Norwegian which have taken steps to ensure people are IT educated.

The rate of unemployment, he said, is also high in Brunei and it needs a strong private sector to help resolve this concern.

"Our local youth are capable individuals who are creative and interested in sectors such as publishing and video making," he added.

Brunei's IT industry needs to be known globally, he said, adding that almost everyone now wants to be online. He added that the federation is working towards helping Brunei's IT sector achieve its aim for global recognition.

The Brunei Times