Sarawak on track with various initiatives in digital economy agenda

Abang Johari (left) observing a 3D printer carrying out its task at the opening of IDECS 2018.

KUCHING: Sarawak will fully accelerate its digital economy agenda, especially to boost rural economic growth, within three years when it achieves 100% broadband coverage across the state.

Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari said the telecommunication and broadband infrastructure across the state had improved 3G and 4G Internet connectivity to 78% and 48% respectively.

The state has built 1,532 telecommunication towers and another 657 are being planned for implementation this year.

He added that the towers and broadband infrastructure would be strategically located to improve services at tourist spots, manufacturing plants and commercial centres to facilitate the growth of the digital economy.

Last year, Abang Johari announced an initial allocation of RM1bil for digital infrastructure to achieve Internet coverage throughout the state, increasing speed to 100Mbps in urban areas and 20Mbps to 80Mbps in rural areas.

Apart from building infrastructure, the state is finding ways and means to incentivise the general public to become its partners in digital economy initiatives.

The state is partnering with China’s technology giant Huawei to train young talents in its Centexs-Huawei Digital Training and Digital Lab centre.

This is to strengthen the growth of digital industry-ready technical manpower to be deployed in various industries, primarily telecommunications, Big Data and Internet of Things (IoT).

“A comprehensive and targeted technopreneur development plan is also crucial as technopreneurs are the agents driving digital economy.

“The creation of demand and sales in digital products and services by technopreneurs will lead to more revenue, more high-paying jobs, better business opportunities for supporting industries and incentivise innovation,” Abang Johari said when opening the International Digital Economy Conference Sarawak (IDECS) 2018 at the Borneo Convention Centre Kuching yesterday.

He added that the state supported the setting up of innovation hub for aspiring digital entrepreneurs and digital villages for scale ups or small technology companies with proven potential.

The first digital village in Sarawak is currently under construction and is expected to be ready next year.

Abang Johari said in order to incubate and support new startups, innovation centres would be set up in all divisions in Sarawak.

The state is building a ripe ecosystem for Big Data by consolidating and liberalising of Government Open Data while its initiatives such as smart farming and digital wallet are to create greater demand for Big Data analytics.

“Technology will boost production and quality of products if Sarawak were to become an important agriculture and food production hub in the region.

“The future of agriculture in the digital age includes urban farms, greenhouses and indoor growing system that provide high value crops to local and regional markets.

“Improved crop and animal genetics based on data mining will also facilitate higher production levels,” Abang Johari said.

He added that the deployment of computational and information technologies in farming would result in greater efficiencies and reduce wastage in the food supply chain.

The state is also moving towards smart farming through net houses using IoT and digital control systems to manage crop fertigation.

In manufacturing, Sarawak is leapfrogging to Industrial Revolution 4.0 with automation, process integration, artificial intelligence, Big Data and IoT from mass production to mass customisation.

Other sectors where the state will embrace advanced digital technology included tourism and health.

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