As Brunei Darussalam strides closer towards becoming a Smart Nation, a number of key elements still need to be developed further in order to progress the country’s digital transformation. 

The alignment of digital transformation goals among the public and private sector, further innovations to service digital transformation and the development of human capital in line with the digital era are among the key takeaways that were discussed during a digitalisation panel discussion that was held last week.

Titled “A Conversation on the Smart Nation, Digital Transformation and Fourth Industrial Revolution”, the panel was part of the Mid-Year Conference and Exhibition 2021 Digital Technology Week, which was held at the International Convention Centre in Berakas.

Image: Wardi Wasil

Opening the discourse, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Transport and Infocommunications and Secretary to the Digital Economy Council, Hj Mohd Nazri Hj Mohd began by sharing the vision and main outcomes of the Digital Economy Masterplan 2025 which was launched in 2020.

He explained the three main outcomes of the master plan which include establishing a digital and future-ready society, a vibrant and sustainable economy as well as promoting a digitally conducive ecosystem.

To achieve this, the senior official then outlined four strategic thrusts that would help bring the aspiration of becoming a Smart Nation even closer, namely the digitalisation of the government and industries, creating a thriving digital industry and lastly, developing manpower and talent development.

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“The Digital Economy Masterplan, is a living document, meaning from time to time, we will revisit and look at where we are, and some of these things (within the masterplan) have been accelerated due to COVID-19,” said Hj Mohd Nazri.

In line with this, he touched on the alignment of digital transformation goals between the private and the public sector and industry digitalisation highlighting how despite the ministry’s pivotal role in the nation’s digitalisation, ministries are actually given the autonomy to form their digital masterplans of their own.

“They (ministries) know more about the industry, and it is them who will be able to address key points such as job scope, the skills needed, increased productivity and more innovation as well as encouraging them to look beyond the local market and become more “export-oriented”.

Image: Wardi Wasil

He went on to say that Brunei needs to leverage its strength to progress forwards, the strength being our connectivity as well as the sultanate is only a couple of megabytes away from the world average in terms of download speed for mobile broadband.

“We are already moving in the right direction, (since the restructuring of the telecommunications), we have more options and data is more affordable… but we still have many things to do, we have to make sure we continue to innovate,” he said.

“The message here is clear, we need to leverage on our strengths, we have a significant and highly educated workforce (as) 79% of IT professionals in Brunei are locals,” he continued, adding that about 10 per cent of jobseekers are from an ICT background.

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“Everyone here plays a role, I believe that innovation will come from the private sector, and our job in the government, is to help facilitate these innovations,” he added.

Also in attendance during the panel discussion were Legislative Council Member and member of the Digital Economy Council Yang Berhormat Nik Hafimi Abdul Haadi and Chief Executive Officer, Dynamik Technologies Haslina Taib.

In her part, YB Nik Hafimi shared the impact of technologies and understanding the need for change as she emphasised the need for adaptive learning to educate future generations.

Image: Shutterstock

Like Hj Mohd Nazri, the LegCo member acknowledged that the private sector plays an important role as the engine of growth and she also highlighted the positive impacts digital initiatives have made, particularly in how registering companies can be done online as it eases the process for vulnerable communities to support themselves by starting a business.

Meanwhile, for Haslina Taib, she shared the impact of the digital economy on the backend infrastructure which requires collaborative efforts.

She also shared the importance of distributed ledger and data analytics as ways forward for the future. Moreover, she highlighted the importance of innovation to service digital transformation and having the right skillsets required in the digital era.

THE BRUNEIAN | BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

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