KUCHING – Sarawak is embarking on building the Digital Economy as part of its economic development strategy, that will create an entirely new dimension of its development growth.
Its Chief Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg said the Digital Economy would create new jobs for the young people in urban centres and rural areas, transforming the way of life and doing business.
He said it would challenge the traditional models of doing business in Sarawak thus allowing young enterpreneurs and business people to move ahead.
“The state realises the importance of Digital Economy, therefore it is fully committed in developing it. To catch up on the Digital Economy, we know that Sarawak needs to build a world-class ICT infrastructure,” he said in his opening address of the International ICT Infrastructure and Digital Economy Conference Sarawak (IDECS) at the Borneo Convention Centre Kuching (BCCK) here today.
“At the moment Sarawak has basic infrastructure which is decent enough for personal use and only in selected spots, but not good enough on which to build the future of Sarawak’s economy on,” he added.
Abang Johari said the average network speed for the state is estimated at 4 Mbps per household, nearly seven times slower than South Korea with a network speed of 29 Mbps per household, while broadband coverage in Sarawak is only 51.8 percent households.
He said with some 1,200 communication towers in Sarawak currently, he reckoned that for the state to have adequate network coverage to a sufficient level that is, not even 2,000 towers were enough.
“I want 5,000 towers in Sarawak. We must reach every possible settlement and must close the gap and cover all the blind spots. Our Digital Village in Samajaya as I have announced last month, can be strenghtened to provide silicon valley-type infrastructure to drive digital-minded Sarawakians, to producing new disruptive business model,” he said.
He said it was obvious that Sarawak needed a new strategy in developing a physical ICT infrastructure that was sufficient for it to build its Digital Economy and compete globally in the next 5-10 years.
“Because we want to build a world class ICT infrastructure, it maybe necessary that the state government must take the lead in driving the development of physical ICT infrastructure, rather than leaving our future to commercial operators and service providers and at the pace and mercy of others,” he said.
Abang Johari reiterated that the state was committed to invest RM1 billion to start with, to ensure that its infrastructure was fit to support the Digital industries, commerce, and investment, that would be lured to Sarawak.
“We may have to integrate and utilize our eletricity with telecommunication,” he said and added that by the synergistic use of its natural resources, Sarawak can become an ICT powerhouse.
“To ensure that Sarawak’s Digital Economy is developed in a wholesome manner, we will have a clear road map with specific timeline and dedicated agency to implement it, such as the new Sarawak Digital Economy Corporation to integrate the physical and virtual worlds,” he said.
Abang Johari further launched the e-Commercrce transformation Plan up to year 2030 for the Youth, better known as E-Com Y30, the plan that will prepare the youth at this Digital Village to graduate as E-Commerce starts up and Entrepreneurs equipped with Digital knowledge.
The two-day conference featured 19 established speakers who are experts in the field of digital economy, apart from over 30 exhibitors who are either experts or actively engaged in utilising digital technologies. – BERNAMA