Hornbill Unleashed

November 9, 2017

CM: Sarawak must embark on digital economy to stay ahead

Filed under: Politics — Hornbill Unleashed @ 8:02 AM

SARAWAK has to embrace digitalisation and embark on the digital economy to stay ahead, thrive and prosper, says Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg.

He said although digitalisation causes constant disruptions and is a potential threat as well as opportunity, the state government takes this as an opportunity to shift, accelerate and facilitate its economic transformation.

“We are already into formulating our digital strategies and action plans to seek and secure new opportunities that will bring better innovations, and create values and prosperity for all Sarawakians,” he said when delivering the state Budget 2018 proposal yesterday.

In sharing Estonia’s e-initiatives, Abang Johari, who recently visited the country, said Estonia started its digital journey on the right framework, strong legislature and good infrastructure as well as culture and trust of its citizens.

“Estonia is a good digital model which can offer a workable solution for Sarawak to provide fast Internet connectivity and penetration crucial for the development of a digital economy.

“As a matter of fact, the world is acknowledging Estonia as an incredible digitalisation success story, grown out of a partnership between a forward-thinking government, proactive information communications technology (ICT) sector and a ‘switched-on, tech-savvy’ society. Dubbed ‘e-Estonia’, it is one of the most advanced e-societies in the world.”

He said 100 per cent of Estonia schools and government organisations are connected to the Internet, 99 per cent of its banking transactions are conducted through the Internet, 99 per cent medical prescriptions are issued electronically, 99 per cent of those under 35s are frequent Internet users and 98 per cent of Estonian residents have digital ID-cards.

Every Estonian is provided with a mandatory national ID-card, a digital identity and access card.

“It is a secure way of authentication in its electronic environment and provides ease and convenience for e-transactions including signing of legal documents. Each digital signature has saved an Estonian at least five business days each year. Estonia has by far the most highly-developed and advanced national ID-card system in the world.”

He said Estonian is able to enjoy such a remarkable e-society mainly due to its exceptionally high penetration of digital infrastructure.

“Fibre optic cables cover the entire country, while direct undersea connections to neighbouring countries enable it to provide high standard communications. Hence, Estonian households, business and institutions in the cities can connect to a 100-Mbps fibre optic network. The same opportunity is expected to reach rural areas by this year.

“It was reported that all larger initiatives and most of the e-government development in Estonia have been undertaken in close cooperation with the private sector or the relevant non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

“Today, Estonia is preparing to make all public data machine-readable and widely available to encourage the development of new e-services jointly with the private sector.”

Abang Johari said Estonia today has reaped tremendous benefits both socially and economically from its 15 years of investment and concerted effort in its digital journey towards e-Estonia.

“Estonia, by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) definition, is now an advanced economy and has enjoyed admirable gross domestic product (GDP) growth for the past 15 years. It is known to be among the few countries in the European Union (EU) with the fastest growing real GDP with improvement in living standard, growth in income and a leading Eastern European country in foreign direct investment particularly in the telecommunication and banking sectors.

“Its Science Park in Talinn has more than 200 technology-based companies contributing to its GDP, as well as innovation that drives value creation. Information technology and communication account for seven per cent of its GDP and is one of fields that recorded the fastest growth in the last 10 to 15 years supporting its economic progress and prosperity.”

In terms of job creation, its service sector which includes the ICT sector employs more than 60 per cent of the workforce.

“Estonia is also seen as a remarkable success story in the context of e-government which has contributed to higher efficiency, transparency, productivity and creating a positive impact to boost its overall economy. Its economy is anticipated to catch up with the other more developed Scandinavian countries like Sweden, Finland, Norway and Denmark.”

Abang Johari said Sarawak could draw many good learning points from the experience and success of Estonia’s digital journey.

“We must move swiftly to embrace the digital revolution and implement strategies and initiatives in tandem with technological advancement together with other countries of the world. Only in this way can the state be globally competitive and sustain its economic growth.”

Source : The Borneo Post Online


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