PONTIAN, Nov 13 — The Ministry of Rural Development is optimistic that the establishment of 191 smart villages in the rural areas next year will be achieved while accelerating the growth of the digital economy that will benefit the local population.

Its Minister Datuk Seri Rina Mohd Harun said this was because various development plans related to digital technology were being implemented in collaboration with the country’s telecommunications industry players.

“Previously, we set the target of establishing 191 smart villages in a five-year period. But now we are optimistic that everything will be completed by the end of 2020.

“Thus far, eight out of 191 smart villages in rural areas have been equipped with internet access to enable rural entrepreneurs to market their products online through digital platforms.

“I believe issues such as uploading pictures, videos and everything related to their products, InsyaAllah (God willing) will not be a problem anymore,” she said after visiting a village community centre with the strategic communications partners in Kampung Perpat Timbul, Kukup, near Pontian town today.

Rina said the initiative, among others, would enable people to access opportunities through the use of digital technology as well as facilitating the target groups such as entrepreneurs and housewives, the knowledge-based (k-based) economy for youth and students as well as the rural community.

The smart village initiative is part of the ministry’s efforts to reduce the digital divide between rural and urban areas, to increase knowledge and skills of rural communities as well as to generate revenue for entrepreneurs and housewives, k-based economy for youth, students and the rural community as a whole through digital platforms.

It also enables rural communities to generate income through platforms built by strategic partners and expanding online education opportunities.

For a start, the smart village initiative was being implemented in several villages with its based at the Kompleks Penghulu Bukit Kepong community centre in Labis in Johor and it would be expanded nationwide in stages. — Bernama