ICT businesses too reliant on gov’t: AITI
BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN
INFORMATION and communications technology (ICT) businesses in Brunei currently rely heavily on government ICT projects, foreign expertise and talents, and produce few Brunei-made ICT products, according to Siti Zaraura Hj Mohammed.
The Senior Manager of the Authority for Info-Communications Technology Industry (AITI) Industry Development Group said this during the recent ASEAN-Korea Strategic Cooperation Seminar on ICT and electronic government (e-government), where policy makers, experts and stakeholders from Brunei, Korea, as well as ASEAN shared the latest trends in ICT related issues.
According to Siti, the current local ICT industry contributes less than two per cent to the nation's GDP, and that only about half of the ICT businesses registered in Brunei (over 200 businesses) are active.
“That is, in operation, and are open for business. The majority of these companies are resellers, distributors and hardware vendors, which import hardware and software from overseas, and resell them to consumers in Brunei.
“The remaining half of the 200 plus ICT companies are in dormant state and has neither on-going projects nor are they operating during business hours,” Siti explained, on the sidelines of the ASEAN-Korea Strategic Cooperation Seminar.
In efforts to weed out these “dormant players” which are not contributing to the ICT sector or the economy in Brunei, the AITI Accredited Business (AAB) scheme was introduced in 2009.
According to Siti, the AAB scheme recognises ICT businesses which are active, locally owned and locally based.
It also allows AITI to keep track of these ICT businesses and assist them to further grow, through grants, subsidies and training schemes.
“In the areas of business development, AITI regularly invites these AAB status ICT companies for business matching events, industry dialogues and international exhibitions,” she said.
AITI also manages a database of these AAB status companies whereby the public and private sectors, as well as regional or international agencies, can tap into to source for good and and accredited ICT companies for projects and partnership collaboration, explained Siti.
The AITI also initiated the ICT Accredited Business (ICTAB) scheme, which classifies AAB status businesses to be included for participation in relevant government ICT projects.
This ICTAB status has been awarded to more than fifty ICT businesses in the nation by AITI.
AITI has also taken steps to encourage “Made-in-Brunei” ICT products and services development among the ICT businesses in Brunei - over the past few years - as a strategy to diversify from the heavy reliance on local government ICT projects, said Siti.
Among these initiatives is the AiTi Grant Scheme, which help encourage and promote 'Research and Development' (R&D) activities by local businesses, leading to the development of local “Brunei Made” ICT and digital media products.
Under the Grant Scheme, applicants can apply for three types of grants: 'Enhancement' to improvde and upgrade existing products, 'Ownership' to obtain certification and quality management systems such as trademark patents, and 'Marketing', for marketing purposes and improving existing branding, packaging, design or labeling.
To date, 12 different ICT companies in Brunei have successfully received grants under the scheme, since its inception in 2010.
The Brunei Times