APT identifies 6 key priority areas in draft of Brunei statement

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THE 35th Asia-Pacific ICT Ministerial Meeting yesterday ended with the drafting the Brunei Darussalam Statement by the ministers present at the Indera Samudera Grand Hall of Empire Hotel and Country Club.

Six key priority areas were identified and discussed by ministers from the Asia Pacific region in order to meet the theme of the meeting this year, which is to build a Smart Digital Economy through ICT.

The resolutions were delivered by the Minister of Communications, Yang Berhormat Pehin Orang Kaya Hamzah Pahlawan Dato Seri Setia Hj Abdullah Begawan Mudim Dato Paduka Hj Bakar, at the press conference at the end of the meeting yesterday afternoon. Ministers from the Asia-Pacific region agreed on having conducive policies for sustainable growth of ICT and Smart Digital economy as one of the key priority areas of the Brunei Statement.

The statement said that member countries of the Asia-Pacific Telecommunity (APT) should continue to build smart cities by “integrating ICT into the urban planning process” as it can help to provide better services to their citizens.

Conducive policies will also be able to encourage the member countries to develop and implement strategies to make ICT more “accessible and affordable”, especially to people with special needs.

The second key priority areas agreed upon by the ministers was on building a safe and secure society through ICT. Asia-Pacific region is prone to natural disasters said the Statement, and that using ICT can help improve the region’s rescue and recovery efforts as well as preparedness such as early warning systems.

The ministers agreed to “collaborate to increase awareness on the importance of submarine cables to regional and global connectivity, and intensify regional cooperation to protect submarine cables from man-made and natural disasters”.

They also “recognise the need and importance of establishing a global air traffic monitoring system” in providing a protected and safe environment.

Thirdly, the ministers decided to protect critical infrastructures and to ensure cyber-wellness of their citizens as a way to increase the public’s trust and confidence in ICT.

To ensure cyber-wellness they encourage further cooperation among governments and the private sector to address safety and cybersecurity.

They also “encourage governments and other stakeholders to proactively take initiatives to increase the users’ awareness and capacity in on-line privacy protection”.

Another key priority area decided on was to have a sustainable ICT ecosystem for innovation. The statement said that a sustainable ICT ecosystem comprises of various stakeholders interacting in an integrated manner.

The statement also said that a sustainable ICT ecosystem provides a level playing field, to encourage and nurture innovation.

To encourage new ideas and innovation, the ministers agreed to “promote ICT entrepreneurship, accelerate ICT uptake among SMEs and encourage the innovative use of ICT”. The ministers also decided to promote cooperation in reducing the international mobile roaming charges.

Capacity building and institutional development was also identified as a key priority area by the ministers in the statement. It said that a skilled ICT workforce is indispensable for sustainable ICT development.

The ministers aim to achieve this key priority area by enhancing and expanding training programmes in the region as well as promote more collaboration amongst ICT experts in the region.

Lastly, the ministers decided to include fostering regional cooperation for ICT development in the Brunei Darussalam Statement.

The statement said that regional cooperation in ICT plays a key role in accelerating the economic growth and that the member countries should engage in bridging the digital divide among the member countries.

To foster cooperation, ministers encouraged APT to take initiatives in cooperating with the private sector, research institutions, academia and universities to increase its presence and influence.

After agreeing on these six key priority areas for the draft of the Brunei Darussalam Statement, the 35th Asia-Pacific ICT Ministerial Meeting was closed.

The ministers from each of the APT member countries as well as the Secretary-General of APT, Toshiyuki Yamada, and Deputy Secretary-General of the International Telecommunication Union, Zhao Houlin, were invited to an audience with His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam.

The Brunei Times