Sarawak budgets RM1b for ICT facilities to boost economy

BY SULOK TAWIE
Sarawak Chief Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Abang Openg (right) says the trunk infrastructure will cover both rural and urban areas at RM2 billion.— Picture by Sulok Tawie

KUCHING, March 4 — Hoping for Sarawak to join the digital economy, Chief Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Abang Openg announced today a RM1 billion budget to build up the state’s information and communication technology (ICT) infrastructure.

He estimated the total cost to construct the trunk infrastructure that will be capable of transferring data at speeds of over 300 megabits per second (mbps) covering both the rural and urban areas at RM2 billion.

“We will ask the federal government for RM1 billion to match the state's allocation of RM1 billion,” he said at the opening of the three-day Sarawak Career and Training Fair here organised by the Human Development Unit under his office.

He said construction work on the ICT infrastructures will begin after the International ICT Infrastructures and Digital Economy Conference to be held here from April 3 to 4.

“We have to have certain inputs from the conference, formulate it and see what is the best model for us,” he said, adding that the construction must be done soon.

Abang Johari who is also in charge of the state finance and economic planning portfolios said the state government needs expert advice on the best model for Sarawak to adopt as the current internet speeds in the state capital is 50 mbps while in the rural areas, between 5 and 10 mbps.

He said Sarawak must move away from its traditional economy into a digital economy, which can only be achieved if the Borneo state has reliable and faster internet connectivity.

“Our aim is to be financially independence and we cannot rely too much on Putrajaya for funds. We must be on our own,” he added.

He said the present government has four more years to transform Sarawak's economy into digital before the next state elections.

Abang Johari said Sarawak needs more funds to finance its strategic projects that will leapfrog Sarawak into high income economy.