The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the positive role played by technology to provide new ways of connecting people and services, hence accelerating digital transformation. In line with the goal towards a Smart Nation, Brunei Darussalam continues to take steps by leveraging on digital technology not only to tackle the pandemic but to strengthen its readiness for the digital technology revolution.
Since the launch of Digital Economy Masterplan in June 2020, Brunei’s digital transformation journey has seen growth through several initiatives and programmes, including structuring of a digital data policy and governance framework to regulate the workings of digitalisation, such as the Personal Data Protection Order and a Cyber Security Order.
Other initiatives include the development of network infrastructures, setup of a Commercial Data Centre aiming to provide innovative services for greater productivity, and the newly launched Brunei Innovation Lab to spur growth of tech businesses and their solutions through development programmes, funding, market access and community building.
The Digital Economy Council focusses on the implementation of key projects under the nine priority clusters expected to have significant impacts on economic growth: logistics and transportation, energy, business services, tourism, financial services, health, agri-food, education and the halal industry.
Digital economy is the key enabler to propel Brunei to the status of a Smart Nation, in addition to a digital government and digital society. In line with the government’s aspirations to become a Smart Nation, the Digital Economy Council in 2020 launched the Digital Economy Masterplan 2025 for the next five years.
The masterplan is aimed at supporting the Brunei Vision 2035, which includes a high quality of life, highly educated and skilled workforce, and a sustainable and dynamic economy.
Guided by Maqasid Syariah, the masterplan aims for a vibrant and sustainable economy; a digital and future-ready society; and a digitally conducive ecosystem. Four strategic thrusts have been identified to support the mission and vision of the masterplan: manpower and talent development, industry digitalisation, government digitalisation and a thriving digital industry.
With the Digital Economy Masterplan 2025, the Digital Economy Council focusses on the implementation of key projects under the nine priority clusters expected to have significant impacts on economic growth: logistics and transportation, energy, business services, tourism, financial services, health, agri-food, education and the halal industry.
Under the Digital Economy Council, three key flagship projects have been identified as a backbone of the digital economy eco-system in the country. They are Digital Identity, Digital Payment and National Information Hub (NIH) aiming to drive and enable the adoption of digital technologies.
In a keynote address at the virtual Digital Economy Forum 2022, Minister of Transport and Infocommunications Pengiran Dato Seri Setia Shamhary bin Pengiran Dato Paduka Haji Mustapha said with this, they hope to create innovations by utilising key emerging technologies, creating new business models and opportunities, increase workforce by creating new jobs and skillsets and produce marketables in line with current and emerging economic needs and with the potential to be exported.
“A key trend is the development of technology-enabled platforms that combine both demand and supply to minimise disruption to existing industry structures,” said the minister. Overall, he said, “The inexorable shift from simple digitisation to innovation, based on combinations of technologies, is forcing companies to reexamine the way they do business.
Hence, it is imperative that the government, industry and society are closely interrelated in adopting the digital economy ecosystem. This can succeed with a whole-of-nation approach having total engagement, participation and commitment from all players, from the government, industry and the society.” Through a digital transformation, Brunei can realise its vision of a digital economy for economic progress, sustainability and social well-being, said the minister.
As listed by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Global Innovation, Brunei ranked number 71 among 131 countries on the Global Innovation Index. While the country’s innovation ecosystem is still at an early age compared to the rest of the region, Brunei has much potential in this area.
The launch of Brunei Innovation Lab (BIL) in July 2022 is a move in the right direction to develop the digital technology ecosystem. By interlinking the digital technology sector by ways of offering a platform for capacity building, market access and community programmes, BIL aims to spur the development of the digital technology ecosystem in Brunei, especially local start-ups and scaleups, to produce technology solutions in addressing real-world problems and capitalising market opportunities.
Located at the Knowledge Hub in Kampong Anggerek Desa, the lab is a joint collaboration between Brunei Shell Petroleum Company Sdn Bhd (BSP), Shell LiveWIRE Brunei, DST and Darussalam Enterprise (DARe). It is an avenue for participants to conduct technopreneur programmes, training, pitching sessions and as a technology showcase gallery area for the public to learn the conceptual mechanisms and practical applications of new technologies.
As part of its strategic initiatives to drive digital transformation in the country’s payments industry, Brunei Darussalam Central Bank (BDCB) has developed the ‘Digital Payment Roadmap for Brunei Darussalam 2019-2025’. The roadmap sets out key strategies towards a Digital Payment Nation, in line with the strategies presented in the Financial Sector Blueprint 2016-2025 and Brunei Vision 2035’s aspiration.
The digital transformation strategies contained in the roadmap focus on three key strategic areas, namely balancing regulation and innovation; adoption of open digital payment; and public awareness and education.
BDCB expects a paradigm shift where there will be more integrated collaboration between BDCB and relevant stakeholders in developing platforms for digital payments that are safe, efficient and resilient. The roadmap will guide all relevant stakeholders in the payment industry to rise to the challenge of becoming a digital economy and cater to the needs of the next generation.
The establishment of Cyber Security Brunei (CSB) as the national cybersecurity agency for Brunei is hoped to spur interest in careers as cybersecurity experts and professionals among local youth. Headed by an interim Commissioner, the CSB started operations on August 1, 2020 and serves as the agency that monitors and coordinates national efforts in addressing cybersecurity threats as well as cybercrimes.
It is through CSB that strategies, policies and framework governing cybersecurity are formulated and implemented with the relevant critical information infrastructures (CIIs) as the main constituents. The formation of CSB has been described as timely, as one of the key strategic enablers in the digital transformation journey towards making Brunei a Smart Nation.
With its vision of ensuring a secure and resilient cyberspace for the nation, the CSB is now carrying out three main services, namely Brunei Computer Emergency Response Team (BruCERT), National Digital Forensic Laboratory and Cyber Watch Centre (CWC). With CSB as the country’s forefront agency for a safer and secure cyberspace, it is hoped that it will encourage more agencies, organisations and users alike to come up with more innovation and participate in digital economy initiatives with more confidence.
The consumer landscape for telco services changed in 2020 with the introduction of Unified National Networks (UNN) and subsequently the impact of COVID-19.
According to the Ministry of Transport and Infocommunications (MTIC), the sector has shown a cumulative increase from 2016 until August 2021. As of December 2021, over 75 per cent of households in Brunei have Internet subscriptions, proving that the nation’s digitalisation efforts are showing progress, especially since the onset of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Meanwhile, almost 80,000 fixed broadband subscribers were recorded as of September 2021, equivalent to 75.2 per cent of the nation’s households. This is further complemented by 135.7 per cent of mobile broadband penetration among the population.
Brunei is embracing technologies in its national agenda towards digital transformation by embarking on key technologies such as 5G, artificial intelligence (AI) and Internet of Things (IoT). The country is also looking towards enhancing broadband connectivity through 5G pilot projects and 5G talent development.
The country launched its 5G Pilot Project in April 2021 as commissioned by the MTIC and spearheaded by AITI with the deployment of 5G base stations by UNN at selected locations. The aim was to demonstrate 5G Proof of Concept network environment, promote the feasibility of high-speed 5G mobile communications and raise awareness to the public for the adoption of 5G technology in Brunei.
In September 2022, a 5G Mobile Network trial for mobile subscribers was conducted over a period of up to eight weeks. The speed was expected to reach between 300 megabit per second up to one gigabit per second, depending on capacity and number of users in certain cell sites.
The following month, UNN was in the final stages of completing full modernisation of its whole infrastructure to be 5G-ready. The modernisation through Radio Access Network (RAN) expansion and broadband network upgrade will increase the capacity to manage the growing traffic and data volume as well as improve customer experience in Brunei.
Digital transformation in the ASEAN region has been growing rapidly, especially in driving resiliency against and recovery from the impact of COVID-19. With the current pace of adoption of digital technologies in ASEAN, the region is well-positioned in its aspiring journey towards a leading digital community and economic bloc.
The ASEAN Digital Masterplan 2025 was launched to guide ASEAN digital cooperation from 2021 to 2025, in realising ASEAN’s vision as a digital community and economic bloc with secure digital services, technologies and ecosystems.
In a joint declaration after adopting the masterplan, ministers of ASEAN responsible for communications and technology said the plan would prioritise ASEAN’s recovery from COVID-19, connect businesses and facilitate cross-border trade and build a digitally inclusive society, among other goals, making the group a leading digital community and economic bloc powered by secure and transformative digital services, technologies and ecosystem. Digital technologies also offer immense potential and benefits to foster inclusive and equitable economic growth and sustainable development.
Regional cooperation in matters significant for digital transformation continue to be strengthened, including in the areas of cybersecurity and ASEAN digital data governance.
Schneider Electric’s purpose is to empower all to make the most of energy and resources, bridging progress and sustainability for all. The company calls this Life is On, with a mission to be a digital partner for sustainability and efficiency.
The company drives digital transformation by integrating world-leading process and energy technologies, end-point to cloud connecting products, controls, software and services across the entire lifecycle.
Schneider Electric enables integrated company management for homes, buildings, data centres, infrastructure and industries. Schneider Electric is a Fortune Global 500 company, publicly traded on the Euronext Exchange, and is a component of the EURO STOXX 50 stock market index. In FY2021, the company posted revenues of EUR28.9 billion.
At Schneider Electric, sustainability has been at the core of its business strategy for the past 15 years. The company creates technologies and solutions to advance a more efficient, sustainable, resilient, and inclusive world for all by working with customers, partners, governments and suppliers to deploy these solutions and create a lowcarbon future.
As the leader in the digital transformation of energy management and automation, Schneider Electric has earned a spot on The Corporate Knights’ 2023 Global 100 list of Most Sustainable Corporations in the world for the 12th time in a row. Strong performance across climate and social commitments, such as sustainable revenues and investments, gender diversity and sustainability pay link have helped secure Schneider Electric’s peer group leadership position in the annual index compiled by the Corporate Knights sustainability research group. The Global 100 is based on a rigorous assessment of public companies with revenues over USD1 billion. Schneider Electric is the only one of its category to have been named a Global 100 every year since 2012 and was ranked as the world’s most sustainable corporation by Corporate Knights in 2021.
This achievement follows a previous announcement of Schneider Electric receiving top Environmental Societal and Governance (ESG) ratings from Standard & Poor’s, CDP and Moody’s ESG Solutions for its sustainability impacts and best practices. For example, Schneider Electric’s Climate Strategy and its commitment to environmental transparency was one of the first to be validated in accordance with SBTi’s Corporate Net- Zero Standard mid-2022.
Schneider Electric is also just one of 19 corporate recipients of this year’s Terra Carta Seal recognising global companies that are driving innovation, demonstrating commitment, and gaining momentum towards genuinely sustainable markets.
The Seal is part of the Sustainable Markets Initiative which His Majesty King Charles III set up in January 2021 while he was the Prince of Wales to encourage the private sector to take more urgent action on climate change.
“Kickstarting 2023 with these sustainability achievements is truly energising,” said Chief Strategy and Sustainability Officer Gwenaelle Avice- Huet. “It shows that consistency, commitment and concrete impact don’t go unnoticed and serves as a reminder that companies like us and our Global 100 peers, make a difference at all levels, in business and through our environmental, social and economic impacts.”
Schneider Electric has been in Brunei Darussalam since the 1980s and the company has extended its support and services towards both private and government sectors. In 2022, Schneider Electric partnered with the French Bruneian Business Association (FBBA) to sponsor an economic forum entitled ‘What is the Economic Blueprint for Brunei: A Dialogue with Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office and Minister of Finance and Economy II, Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mohd Amin Liew bin Abdullah, where they invited endusers, relevant stakeholders and other government diplomats to have an open dialogue on reaching the goals of Brunei Vision 2035.
In 2023, Schneider Electric has lined up events for its stakeholders in Brunei. This includes innovation seminars to keep its partners and end-users abreast of the latest design, technology and best practices used globally. The company is passionate about people upskilling and this aligns with one of the aspirations of Brunei Vision 2035.
Schneider Electric plans on speeding up the awareness of the importance of digital and sustainability measures to its end-users in Brunei. “Power industry, for example, is experiencing a paradigm shift as the energy world goes through decentralisation, decarbonisation, digitisation with exponential increase in consumption of electricity,” said Schneider Electric Country General Manager for Brunei, Enoch Tan. ”We are leveraging on advances in Internet of Things (IoT), mobility, sensing, cloud, analytics and cybersecurity technologies to transform the power management industry. By acting on data in real time from any number of IoT – enabled sources, our customers can improve operational and energy efficiency and bring their operations directly into the future.”
To address these needs, Schneider Electric has developed EcoStruxureTM – an architecture that offers open platform to partners and end users so they can develop and integrate digital solutions.
Schneider Electric is very present in every market segment and industry in Brunei which includes hotels, healthcare, banking, telcos, commercial and residential buildings, oil and gas, power and water utilities.
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