Various government stakeholders have come up with encouraging initiatives to support His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam’s wishes to create a self-sufficient Brunei through sustainable resources.
One of them would be the Authority for Info-Communications and Technology Industry (AITI).
Besides its function as a telecommunications regulator, AITI is proactively promoting digital fluency among Bruneians and its efforts have positively impacted entrepreneurs as well.
Ongoing initiatives include the Brunei ICT Awards (BICTA), ICT Savviness Programme, educational competitions and ICT transformational endeavors.
Brunei ICT Awards (BICTA)
BICTA is an annual competition developed under the collaboration between the Ministry of Transport and Info-Communications (MTIC), AITI and the InfoCom Federation Brunei (IFB) to stimulate technological innovation and creativity among ICT professionals and students.
The competition which was held since 2004 would usually see three categories contested; School for secondary school students, Tertiary for Higher Learning Institutions and ICT Industry for individuals and businesses.
Besides the categories, there is also the Royal Patron Award, which is held bi-annually to recognise the “Best of the Best” among all of the contestants.
Since last year, the organisers have introduced a boot camp aimed at equipping candidates with necessary skills and knowledge before contesting their products in BICTA, known as BICTA Plus.
Facilitators for this camp were carefully selected from various industries so as to give a more holistic view into how entreprenuers develop their products from ideation all the way to commercialisation.
Selected BICTA winners will be given the chance to pitch their product at the Asia Pacific ICT Alliance (APICTA) Awards. To date, several Bruneian startups including MindPlus and TechBru Solutions have made names through this platform.
ICT Savviness Programme
AITI first introduced its ICT Savviness Programme in 2017 which was designed to educate members of the Village Consultative Councils (MPKs) on the benefits of utilising digital platforms, whether for their daily tasks or to promote their One Village One Products (OVOPs). The programme started with a workshop on web-designing.
For Fiscal Year 2018/2019, the programme was also extended to the general public, with additional workshops including Basic Digital Literacy and Digital Marketing added to further accomplish AITI’s digital literacy agenda.
Continuous education key to producing digital generation
AITI continues its efforts in promoting ICT usage actively in the educational arena via a number of competitions and programmes – all aimed to stimulate interests towards creating and operating digital platforms. This is in line with its vision to create a digitally literate and savvy generation.
Notable initiatives include the Tech Kids Camp held since 2012 with collaboration from the Science, Technology and Environment Partnership STEP) Centre under the Ministry of Education, and Hackathon for Teens which was held recently under partnership with local ICT startup Grominda.
Both programmes aimed to allow participants to enjoy ICT in a more casual and fun setting.
AITI is also active in bringing Brunei to participate in a similar international event, such as the ASEAN Cyberkids Camp, which was initiated by Malaysia in 2008 to enhance students’ adaptability, creativity, critical thinking, problem solving, teamwork and ability to use ICT creatively with Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and cross-cultural issues in their minds.
Brunei successfully hosted the ASEAN Cyberkids Camp for the first time last year, which was attended by all ten ASEAN member states.
Facilitating Brunei’s digital transformation efforts
With AITI’s support, the government is moving right on track with its digital transformation agenda, bringing Brunei closer to having greater accessibility for high speed connectivity and infrastructure.
As previously reported, Brunei’s broadband penetration has reached 130 percent last year, which is expected to empower users and other stakeholders with enhanced processes, better governance and wider choices of services.
Ongoing initiatives also include reviewing and improving processes with involvement from multi-stakeholders, including the move to restructure Brunei’s ICT Telco industry which will allow Brunei access to vibrant business competitions via up-to-date technologies.
All the more, AITI had recently completed its study on the nation’s readiness to embrace 5G, with a set of policy recommendations including market, regulatory and network operator readiness being subsequently considered for final endorsement by the MTIC.
AITI also conducted several digitalisation surveys and studies that may be used by other stakeholders, either to plan new strategies or to revise their policies.
As Brunei moves forward, AITI will also continue its effort to help the country embrace technologies, helping businesses improve their profitability and sustain their operations.
Waqiuddin Rajak | BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN