MOU sign between Imagine and UBD
April 21, 2022
A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signing ceremony between imagine Sdn Bhd (imagine) and Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD) was held at the UBD Business library on 21 April 2022.
The signing ceremony was attended by the Guest of Honour, Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Awang Abdul Mutalib bin Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Setia Dato Paduka Haji Awang Mohammad Yusof, Minister of Transport and Infocommunications and was witnessed by senior officers from the ministry, imagine as well as UBD. On behalf of imagine, the MoU was signed by its Chief Executive Officer, Suzannawati binti Haji Suharju while Office of Assistant Vice Chancellor (Innovation and Enterprise) Director, Pg Dr Emeroylariffion bin Pg Abas, signed on behalf of UBD.
This signing sees the first initiative of its kind that aims to bridge the digital divide in Brunei; with the research aiming to better understand the digital needs of lower income households and individuals, and hence, enable the country’s Smart Nation initiative towards Wawasan 2035. The ‘Understanding Digital Inclusion in Brunei Darussalam’ study will take place over the next three months, with the UBD research team conducting surveys and interviews among welfare recipients from Community Development Department (JAPEM), Brunei Islamic Religious Council (MUIB) as well as Yayasan Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah. The outcome of this research will provide the necessary foundation for imagine to curate products and services that meet the needs and expectations of those who fall under this demographic.
The MoU also serves as a framework for both institutions to collaborate and to initiate a working relationship in different areas of mutual interest. UBD offers five (5) broad areas of collaboration with outside institutions and industries: joint Research and Development, joint commercialisation and access to more than 60 of UBD’s international and local patents, Teaching and Learning, joint Corporate Social responsibility (CSR), and other services. UBD has been actively engaging both industries and other institutions, and working tirelessly to build meaningful mutual relationships. The outcome can be seen today with the signing of the MoU between Imagine and UBD, specifically, focusing on collaborative research and joint CSR.
In her opening remarks, Suzannawati explained that the global digital divide was made more pronounced during the COVID-19 pandemic during which time the lower income group across different economies, including Brunei, struggled to sustain and maintain a quality of life that could otherwise be improved through affordable and more accessible broadband and mobile connectivity as well as devices.
“With the significant role that technology plays in our day-to-day lives, we believe that affordable connectivity and devices will become the next basic human right as it carries the potential to uplift individuals from financial constraints. On its surface, this research is about understanding the needs of Brunei’s lower income group, but as we explore deeper into the meaning of this initiative, we see this as an opening to ensure that all Bruneians regardless of financial status can benefit from 21st century technology.
“The results from this study could potentially narrow the digital divide and grant equal access to education and opportunity while creating parity among the different demographics and social class. What we aim to achieve through this collaboration is the development of a portfolio of data and device products and services that are not only accessible and affordable but also more importantly, we want to ensure that our offers are sustainable for the future of all our subscribers whether for home, at work or on the move regardless of social circumstance.”
As an active member of Brunei’s community with the goal to help alleviate the burdens faced by the financially challenged, imagine actively sought ways to supply data, simcards and devices especially for students during Brunei’s first and second COVID-19 waves under the company’s ‘education’, ‘women and children’ and ‘underprivileged’ CSR pillars. Among others, this included partnering with other members of Brunei’s telecommunications industry through contributing human and financial resources to supply over 16,000 devices, data and simcards to teachers and students under the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Religious Affairs to support Brunei’s education agenda.
Apart from understanding the data needs of the research target group, the study will also assess device accessibility among members of the household. Through imagine’s initial initiatives during the pandemic waves, it was apparent that most lower income households had limited access to either mobile phones, tablets and laptops, which were often shared by more than two individuals especially with families that have multiple children of different schooling age. As a response to this, the research also aims to determine the ideal affordability rate for such tools, which will also include affordable instalment plans when packaged with imagine’s data products and services.
Additionally, the study will also determine the respondents’ digital financial literacy such as internet banking knowledge from which the results may be shared with the relevant stakeholders to determine digital financial literacy intervention.
Apart from collaborative research, the MoU will also focus on joint Corporate Social Responsibility projects such as the UBD-Imagine Community Tuition Centre, which started last year that transformed to remote learning due to the pandemic. Furthermore, the MoU will also create opportunities that will be beneficial to both entities; including Industrial Internship, study visits and training, as well as Industrial Engagement.
The Assistant Vice Chancellor (Innovation and Enterprise) of UBD, Professor Dr Mohd Ayub Sadiq, highlighted in his speech, that one of UBD’s strategic goals is to become a “University of Innovation and Enterprise”, and one of the key strategies toward this strategic goal is by increasing industry collaboration and linkages, including joint research, CSR, teaching, and joint commercialisation. Alignment on these different areas between academic institutions such as UBD and industries, are necessary to contribute towards the development of the country and to attain our Wawasan goal.
UBD welcomes any industries or institutions to explore the different areas that UBD offers by visiting https://innovation.ubd.edu.bn, email at email@example.com or follow ubd_oavcie on Instagram.
To know more about Imagine’s products and services, initiatives, as well as Corporate Social Responsibility and community engagement, follow Imagine’s social media pages @_imaginebn and @imaginebn on Instagram and Facebook respectively or visit www.imagine.com.bn.
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