Digital connectivity key to achieve prosperity


KUCHING: A key factor to achieve prosperity is to give all Sarawakians access to knowledge, information and economic opportunities which in this age, translates to digital connectivity.

This is because no resource is more valuable than human capital, said Deputy Minister for Energy and Environmental Sustainability Dr Hazland Hipni.

“While Sarawak is known for its natural resources, from our robust oil and gas industry to our plantations, no resource is more valuable than Sarawakians.”

He made the point while officiating at the Youth Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) Digital Connectivity Regional Workshop at Borneo Cultures Museum here on Tuesday (June 14).

The event was organised by the United States Embassy in Kuala Lumpur in collaboration with the Sarawak Digital Economy Corporation (SDEC) and Centre for Governance and Political Studies.

According to Dr Hazland having an internet connection is now a necessity, from online learning to having access to vast academic resources across the globe, on top of selling products throughout the world.

“When we used to talk about the necessities in the rural and urban divide, it was always the roads and hospitals but now it is the access to high-speed broadband.

“It became more apparent during the pandemic where lockdowns and movement control orders forced us all to adapt to the new norms of doing things remotely.

“Suddenly having a good internet connection is not just about watching Netflix in 4K or doing Tik Tok dances, but the difference between a good and a bad internet connection is the key deciding factor towards getting a quality education for a child or a student, as it is no longer a luxury commodity but a necessity,” he remarked.

Towards this end he said the Sarawak government is aware that there is a digital divide between the rural and urban communities.

“We also know that it would mean vastly different access to opportunities and resources which is why, through SDEC and other agencies, our Premier Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg, has put to task this divide, that it must be narrowed down as much as possible.

“From erecting communication towers to promoting digitalisation to small and medium enterprises, bridging the digital divide is one of the main priorities of Sarawak.

He said the Sarawak government welcomes partners, be it tech companies or international bodies, that share the same aspiration.

“I hope our friends from the embassy can convince companies and big tech companies to consider Sarawak in implementing their digital initiatives and services.

“SDEC and the Sarawak government would be more than happy to facilitate such an initiative,” he added.

The YSEALI Regional Workshop with the theme ‘Enhancing Digital Connectivity for All’, seeks to foster conversations and collaborations among ASEAN and Timor-Leste young leaders to tackle digital connectivity challenges and find solutions to bridge the digital divide within their communities.

This three-day workshop is being held, for the first time in Kuching, from June 14 to 16, and will bring together 100 participants across the ASEAN region as well as guest speakers, experts, and stakeholders from the digital industry.

Also present were United States Embassy Chargé d’Affaires Michael Newbill, SDEC chairman Datuk Amar Mohamad Morshidi Abdul Ghani and chief executive officer Sudarnoto Osman.

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