Ahmad Shabery: Digital divide slows Malaysia’s progress to smart nation

19-Jun-2014 Intellasia | Bernama | 6:00 AM Print This Post

Communications and Multimedia minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek says Malaysia is moving towards becoming a smart nation, but priority will be given to addressing the digital divide between its rural and urban communities.

The minister said this in response to a question whether Malaysia had taken such an approach after Singapore announced it was gearing up to be the world’s first smart nation.

“We are moving towards the same direction but of course when we talk about priorities, we still have the gap, between the haves and have nots… the urban and rural communities,” he said when visiting the Malaysian Pavilion at the CommunicAsia2014 here today.

The event is Asia’s largest and most comprehensive business networking event for the global ICT industry.

Also present were Singapore minister for Communications and Information Dr Yaacob Ibrahim and Malaysia’s deputy High Commissioner to Singapore, Kamsiah Kamaruddin.

According to Ahmad Shabery, the urban community had almost been covered by the internet, broadband and so on.

“However, the rural community in many countries including Malaysia still do not enjoy the same coverage or the same (internet) speed that the urban people have.

“When you talk about schools, hospitals and so on (in the rural areas), they must be connected.

“So, this will be the first thing that needs to be addressed rather than you go immediately into the smart city (or smart nation) creation,” he said.

Citing Singapore as a city state, Ahmad Shabery said: “The republic is different as it does not have Sabah and Sarawak… it has no problem of undersea cables, or electricity whereas Malaysia has such priorities to look into.”

Ahmad Shabery is here to attend the ministerial Forum, held as part of the Infocomm Media Business Exchange (imbX) 2014.

Into its 10th year, the ministerial Forum is a closed-door platform for ICT ministers and senior government officials to discuss key ICT policies and developments.

Touching on the forum, Ahmad Shabery said: “The forum talked about the challenges that nations have to face in wanting to embark on a digital lifestyle.

“We talked about the smart city and smart nation concept. There are challenges ahead as nations embark on the approach,” he said.

Among the challenges faced, he said, was the gap in some countries where their capacity to develop their infrastructure and architecture for a smart city was not cheap and easy.



Category: Malaysia

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