Despite high usage, ICT contributes 2% to economy

National 2 minutes, 22 seconds

BRUNEI-MUARA

INFORMATION and communications technology (ICT) and electronic government (e-government) were the focus of the ASEAN-Korea Strategic Cooperation Seminar that took place yesterday at the UBD Ilia building.

Themed “Government Innovation and Knowledge-based National Development Plan”, the one-day seminar was organised by the Embassy of the Republic of Korea in Brunei Darussalam, in collaboration with Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD), the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), the Ministry of Communications (MinComm), the Authority for Info-Communications Technology Industry (AiTi) and the Brunei Economic Development Board (BEDB).

The presentations were divided into three sessions at the event: “Government Innovation”, “Knowledge-based National Development Plan” and “ICT Initiatives for ASEAN”.

During her presentation, MinComm Special Duties Officer Hjh Hairmi Hj Ibrahim said that “the rising pace of ICT development is undeniable, and it is the response of the users that has driven global domination of ICT usage”.

She reported that 11,000 homes in Brunei are currently connected with high-speed broadband, and that 80 per cent of households in Brunei owned at least one laptop.

“There is currently a 120 per cent mobile penetration rate in Brunei, and we expect the rate to continue increasing, especially with the recent roll out of 4G/LTE services by one of [Brunei’s] service providers,” Hjh Hairmi said.

Seventy per cent of the Bruneian population is also actively using the smartphone instant messaging application, Whatsapp, she added.

She further mentioned that it is therefore in the government’s “best interest to have a society that is ethical and responsible in their usage of ICT”, and outlined the steps that MinComm has taken to ensure that ICT users in Brunei are aware about the need for online security, such as the annually-held Cyber Security Awareness Week and the establishment of the Child Online Protection Framework (COP), which adresses Internet sexual-related crimes that target the young.

Meanwhile, Senior Manager of the AiTi ICT Industry Development Group Siti Zaraura Hj Mohammed stated that the current local ICT industry contributes less than two per cent to the nation’s GDP.

She also said that ICT businesses (small and medium enterprises, as well as multinational corporations) in Brunei relied heavily on government ICT projects, and on foreign expertise and talents, adding that there was a lack of Brunei-made ICT products.

“There are more than 200 ICT businesses in Brunei, but only about 50 per cent of them are active. Businesses are mostly resellers, distributors and hardware vendors,” Siti Zaraura reported.

According to a press statement by the Korean embassy, the main aim of the seminar was to provide a platform for policy makers, experts and stakeholders from Brunei, Korea, as well as ASEAN to discuss ways of enhancing government efficiency and to share the latest trends in ICT related issues.

Attending the seminar was Deputy Minister at PMO Dato Paduka Hj Ali Hj Apong, as well as representatives from other ministries.

The Brunei Times