The Sultan of Brunei, His Royal Highness Hassanal Bolkiah ibni Omar Ali Saifuddien III, has launched “Wawasan Brunei 2035” or “Vision 2035” in an effort to boost economic growth. This initiative was formulated in 2004 when Sultan Hassanal established the Council for Long Term Development Planning to develop a vision for Brunei’s future and the strategies to achieve it. The council’s recommendations were published in 2007, with the Sultan coining the term Wawasan Brunei 2035.
The vision for Brunei’s future is ambitious, with three main targets: recognition on the world stage for the accomplishments of its highly educated and skilled people, a quality of life that is among the top 10 in the world, and a sustainable economy with an income per capita that is among the top 10 in the world.
Currently, Brunei’s economy is heavily dependent on its oil industry, which accounts for about half of its gross domestic product (GDP). While the high revenue generated from the oil and gas sector has contributed significantly to Brunei’s prosperity, it could also be unsustainable in the long run.
The government has outlined three strategic goals under Wawasan Brunei 2035 to ensure growth in the energy sector, which include strengthening and growing oil and gas upstream and downstream activities, ensuring a safe, secure, reliable, and efficient supply and use of energy, and maximizing economic spin-offs from the energy industry.
In a bid to boost its economy, the leader and monarch of Brunei, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah ibni Omar Ali Saifuddien III, launched “Wawasan Brunei 2035” or “Vision 2035”. The initiative was first introduced in 2004 when Sultan Hassanal established the Council for Long Term Development Planning, which was tasked with creating a vision for the future of Brunei and strategies to achieve it. In 2007, the council’s recommendations were published, with the Sultan coining the term “Wawasan Brunei 2035”.
The goals of Wawasan Brunei 2035 are ambitious, with the main objectives being recognition on the global stage for its skilled workforce, a top-10 quality of life, and a sustainable economy with a top-10 income per capita. Brunei’s economy heavily relies on its oil industry, making it the third-largest oil producer in Southeast Asia and the ninth-largest liquefied natural gas (LNG) producer globally. Revenue generated from the oil and gas sector contributes to around 50 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), and as a result, Brunei’s GDP per capita is ranked fourth on the International Monetary Fund’s rankings.
Under Wawasan Brunei 2035, the government has identified three strategic goals to drive growth in the energy sector, including strengthening and expanding oil and gas upstream and downstream activities, ensuring safe and efficient energy supply and use, and maximizing economic spin-offs from the energy industry. However, Brunei’s reliance on oil and gas could make its economy vulnerable to external market factors, and it may not be a sustainable long-term strategy.
According to an analysis by Paul Pryce of UPH Analytics, Brunei’s government revenue declined by 70 percent from 2014 to 2016 due to the fall in oil prices. In 2016, Brunei recorded negative growth with a GDP decline of 2.5 percent. While the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has predicted positive growth in 2018, it is clear that Brunei needs to reduce its dependence on oil and gas and diversify its economy.
Furthermore, increased consolidation of the oil and gas industry could have an effect on the environment. In this regard, the government has increased efforts in integrating renewables in the country. In an Energy White Paper released by the Energy Department, Brunei is targeting to increase the share of renewable energy in its total power generation mix by 10 percent or 954,000 MWh by 2035.
The white paper also outlines several initiatives to develop renewable energy in the country like establishing a renewable energy policy and a regulatory framework. Aside from that, other steps like scaling-up the market deployment of solar PV and promoting waste-to-energy technologies will also be carried out.
Another step in the right direction includes plans for the development of the Temburong Smart City project. The project is done in collaboration with the Economic Research Institute of ASEAN (ERIA) and will be carried out in two phases. The first phase would introduce energy efficiency technology on existing infrastructures like buildings and roads as well as smart grid technologies. The subsequent phase would use a computer simulation to determine the suitable capacity of power sources to provide electricity to the area.
While these efforts should be applauded, Brunei needs to step up its efforts in reducing its dependency on oil and gas. Not only would it benefit the environment but will also prevent a crisis in the country’s economy if any external factors should jeopardize the oil market.
For latest updates and news follow BLiTZ on Google News, YouTube, Facebook, and also on Twitter.