Technology has advanced rapidly over the past years, becoming the focal point in our lives. The Government of His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam has been quick to adopt new technologies, boosting the efficiency of its services and processes.
Formed in April 2008 under the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), the E-Government National Centre (EGNC) functions as the centralised organisation that concentrates on information technology (IT) in the civil service. The centre oversees the development of IT personnel and centralises procurement of IT equipment, in addition to providing common government-wide applications and shared IT services among all ministries.
The centre also designs strategic plans for information and communications technology (ICT) across the government and sets up the measurement framework, providing support for various e-government governance forums such as the E-Government Leadership Forum. In terms of research and new developments in ICT, the centre looks into the provision of technical advice for the government’s IT projects, feasibility studies and cost benefit analysis.
April 2020 saw the launch of the Ministry of Transport and Infocommunications (MTIC) 2025 Strategic Plan to align with His Majesty’s aspiration for the country to transform into a Smart Nation.
With its new vision of a ‘Connected Smart Nation’ and the mission of ‘Enhancing Connectivity for Great Socio-Economic Opportunities, Innovation and High Quality of Life’, the plan is also in concert with the three goals of Brunei Vision 2035: ensuring high quality of life; boasting highly educated and skilled workforce; and having a sustainable and dynamic economy.
The ministry’s approach is guided by six core strategies: digital transformation; supporting participation and innovation from stakeholders in ICT; ensuring safety standards in transport and ICT sectors; ensuring the policy and regulatory framework is conducive to investments and businesses; organisational transformation; and enhancing international cooperation.
The Digital Economy Council was established to replace the functions of the Brunei Darussalam National IT Council and drive the country towards becoming a Smart Nation.
In June 2020, the Digital Economy Council launched the Digital Economy Masterplan 2025 with the following objectives: a vibrant and sustainable economy; a digital and future-ready society; and a digitally conducive ecosystem. The masterplan is aimed at supporting Brunei Vision 2035. To achieve the masterplan’s goal, four thrusts have been identified: industry digitalisation; government digitalisation; a thriving digital industry; and manpower and talent development.
With the Digital Economy Masterplan 2025, the Digital Economy Council focusses on the implementation of key projects under nine priority clusters expected to have significant impacts on economic growth. The priority clusters are: logistics and transportation, energy, business services, tourism, financial services, health, agri-food, education, and Halal industry.
The effort to continuously upgrade the country’s telecommunication infrastructure has brought Brunei to second place among ASEAN member countries in the Telecommunications Infrastructure Index, according to the United Nations E-Government Survey Report 2020. As of March 2021, the Ministry of Transport and Infocommunications (MTIC) has activated 983 telecommunication towers to provide extensive network coverage services.
The initiatives implemented by the MTIC are guided by three key strategic policies: the Digital Economy Masterplan 2025 to transform Brunei Darussalam into a Smart Nation while encouraging and enhancing the socio-economic growth through digital transformation; the MTIC Strategic Plan (MTIC 2025) to support Brunei Vision 2035; and the Brunei Darussalam Road Safety Strategic Plan 2025 to drive safety initiatives and standards of the country’s land transport sector.
In line with the Digital Economy Masterplan 2025, it is based on integrated action between government agencies, industry and the general public. As a foundation for digital transformation, several initiatives have been and will be implemented.
Among the initiatives are the E-Government National Centre (EGNC) project which is the National Centralised Database (NCDB) under 11th National Development Plan (RKN11) with an allocated budget of BND8.9 million which includes the National Information Hub to prepare a platform for data sharing, and centralising funding of computer licences used by ministries that contribute to the optimal and prudent use of resources with an allocated budget of BND8.2 million under the EGNC.
Others include improving the effectiveness of government services to the public online and through mobile application, such as TransportBN, improving internal processes through the gov.bn portal, launch of ‘Nomborku’ service in 2021, and the full use of e-office in internal document correspondence management at the MTIC.
Meanwhile, the Cyber Security Brunei (CSB) was established as the national cybersecurity agency. With regards to strengthening governance in digital transformation, the MTIC prepared two main legal frameworks – the Cyber Security Order that focusses on dealing with cybersecurity threats and incidents, and the Personal Data Protection Order that aims to preserve the use, collection and disclosure of personal data by the private sector.
In June 2021, the EGNC showcased the revamped www.gov.bn website during the Digital Technology Week Exhibition with new features including an e-participation link that allows the public to voice their opinions online through surveys, polls and digital collaboration.
The revamped website also includes a list of government services, mobile apps and a comprehensive directory of the ministries, departments, statutory boards, embassies and other organisations.
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