KUCHING, Sept 16 — Sarawak has invested RM1.89 billion since 2018 to develop telecommunication infrastructure and the digital economy to facilitate the federal government’s efforts in expanding the Internet network coverage in the state, said Datuk Julaihi Narawi.

The Utility and Telecommunication Minister said the Sarawak government targets to erect 600 4G telecommunication company (telco) towers through the Sarawak Linking Urban, Rural and Nation (Saluran) programme and Sarawak Multimedia Authority Rural Telecommunication (Smart) operated by the Sarawak Digital Economy Corporation (SEDC).

“We aim to have all these towers fully operational by the end of 2024,” he said at the launching of the Digital Economy Centre (PEDi) Community Day in Krokong, Bau today by the Communications and Digital Minister Fahmi Fadzil.

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His text of speech was delivered by Deputy Minister for Utility and Telecommunication Datuk Liwan Lagang.

Julaihi said there were also other initiatives under the Saluran programme such as expanding the broadband service via satellites in 250 locations operated by the Sarawak Multimedia Authority (SMA) and Sarawak Information Systems Sdn Bhd (Sains), which are now all fully operational.

Julaihi said PEDi represented a transformation effort that will drive Malaysia’s digital economy development and serve as a driving force for entrepreneurs and small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

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Through PEDi, he said the rural community can be taught how to use the Internet and become part of a digital community that is engaged in the digital economy.

“I have also visited several PEDi in Sarawak including PEDi Song on August 22 this year. Among the entrepreneurs guided by PEDi Song is Anna Anthony, who sells handicrafts through Shopee and Facebook.

“Before this, her monthly income was less than RM150 and now she is earning more than RM1,150 every month,” he said.

He said another young entrepreneur from Kampung Gedong, who sells songket and handicraft, managed to increase his income up to RM10,000 per month through the e-commerce platform.

With the implementation of PEDi under the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), Julaihi said local residents could benefit from broadband services to improve their socioeconomic standards.

He pledged that the government together with the telco industry will continue to ensure that various digital initiatives and programmes would be implemented successfully to benefit the people of Sarawak. — Borneo Post