CM: Sarawak needs software experts to propel digital economy agenda

Abang Johari (third right) prepares to launch the conference using a mobile device. On his left is Mohamad Kadim.

KUCHING, August 8: Having a vast pool of software engineering experts will catapult the state’s transformation towards a digital economy and be competitive in various economic sectors, including success in the Fourth Industrial Revolution (Industry 4.0).

Sarawak has vast resources and a solid foundation in industrial-scale manufacturing, but it lacks research and development (R&D) to add-value to its products and services. In addition, the state must embrace technology to tap the global market for its products and services, said Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg.

“We have seen how software has seamlessly integrated itself into our daily activities.

“Today, the waves of technological feats are being pushed further in dealing with the complex processes and huge amount of data that require powerful, high speed digital processors and reliable software,” he said at the opening of the Malaysian Software Engineering Conference hosted by Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas) here today.

The two-day conference is co-organised with the Malaysian Software Engineering Interest Group.

The state has allocated RM1 billion to jumpstart its digital infrastructure projects that are meant to provide high-speed Internet access and to ensure the rural outback has access to the World Wide Web too, he said.

Sarawak has identified agriculture (through precision farming), tourism, health, manufacturing and sustainable energy as anchor sectors to push the state towards a digital economy.

“For example, Sarawak Energy will embark on a project to produce hydrogen fuel cells. But of course, technology comes with computing software, and this is where we need talent.

“Software tech experts to create and support programmes for various fields and applications will be in demand,” said Abang Johari, adding that software engineering could help many sectors to become more efficient.

The State Planning Authority and the Land and Survey Department, for instance, have created mobile apps to enhance their service delivery, and the Sarawak Forestry Department is using drones to monitor illegal logging and to protect the environment.

“Our tourism sector can greatly benefit from online services and social media to promote tourism products in real time. We can post videos and pictures of our orang utans to attract tourists,” opined Abang Johari.

Meanwhile, Unimas vice-chancellor Prof Datuk Dr Mohamad Kadim Suaidi said the university was collaborating with The Value Engineers (TVE) from the Netherlands on sustainable business models for any new technology under the Sarawak digital economy initiative.

Under this cooperation, TVE would work with Unimas to address discrepancies between the technical issues of software development and the need to meet consumer demands and build sustainable business models for software companies and government digital-economy projects.

Unimas is also working with industry players such as Sarawak Information Systems Sdn Bhd (Sains) and Sacofa Sdn Bhd, the state’s leading telecommunication infrastructure company.

“I am convinced that Unimas will continue to play an important role in strengthening education and research in ICT as well as in the Sarawak digital economy for many years,” he said. — DayakDaily