Digital technology adoption crucial for economy recovery

Lyna Mohamad

Malaysian Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Ismail Sabri bin Yaakob in his keynote address at the panel discussions on Digital ASEAN called on the need for the existing eco-system of all ASEAN states to be strengthened while some areas were in dire need of streamlining on certain policies.

He said the matter holds a special importance in the current global economic scenario as governments across the world are working towards building a sustainable digital future.

Digital transformation is a defining feature of the COVID-9 pandemic, which has filled every aspect of lives besides altering economic social and structural domains and the pandemic has led to the rise of digital technologies by which have supported governments and businesses in adapting agile and adaptive responses where in this regards, almost all of the ASEAN countries have introduced digital tools for disseminating information, monitoring healthcare and sustaining education.

While digital integration is agreed to have enabled ASEAN to harness each collective competitiveness in the global economy and foster domestic growth, divergences in technology readiness and connectivity remains illusive.

“We cannot disregard the speed and scale of changes that have implicated our society of which in due process have widened in equalities across nation. The essential question is how to harness these technologies for future preparation of our businesses and our people while cushioning destructive transition.”

The Malaysian prime minister highlighted on the need to reshape ASEAN’s digital eco-system in a way that ensures inclusive sustainable and resilient growth.

He also shared on the three key points of suggested resolutions, first of which is by building inclusive digital infrastructure, highlighting that it is imperative for every ASEAN member states to foster a truly accessible and affordable digital infrastructure.

Prime Minister of Malaysia Dato’ Sri Ismail Sabri bin Yaakob delivers his keynote address. PHOTO: BAHYIAH BAKIR

Malaysia, he added, has taken efforts to improve the foundational infrastructure with the launch of Malaysian digital blueprint or My Digital initiative early this year in tandem with the Industrial Revolution 4.0 (IR4.0) with the aim to transform relation into a digitally enable technology driven high income economy while enhancing digital infrastructure for seamless and extensive connectivity.

“This aspiration is currently being actualised by the national digital network or Jendela Action Plan with an allocation of approximatley USD6.7 billion and is aimed at improving broadband quality and coverage while paving the way to 5G technology, an initiative that will enable Malaysia to enhance the preparedness of the nation as well as catalysing a conducive eco-system for an innovative economy.

“The second key point is through inclusive digital literacy. Dato’ Sri Ismail Sabri shared that Malaysia has emphasised on developing future-ready digital talents as one of the strategies with contuinuous measures in upskilling and reskilling digital literacy will be undertaken in ensuring relevancy of workforce at all times.

This, he added, “include technical and vocational education training, research and development as well as commercialisation and innovation where all efforts are meant to develop a more digitally-ready talent among Malaysians.

“The third point is by boosting digital ready micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).” The Malaysian prime minister pointed out that Malaysia has intensified policy intervention specifically targetted to expanding the breadth and depth of digitalisation adoption by its MSMEs, which is imperative as MSMEs account for more than 90 per cent of businesses in ASEAN.

“Without due preparations and measures, we could be among the most hard-hit by the pandemic post repercussions.

“Therefore successful adoptions of digital technologies are crucial for our consistent revitalisation and sustainable economic recovery. Today we are thriving consistently in broadening the MSMEs market access while building an inclusive digital economy,” he said.

The Malaysian leader also noted that MSMEs that are lacking in access to technologies are facing greater risk of being left behind in this post-pandemic era. Thus, there is an inevitable urgency in boosting digital-readiness across ASEAN MSMEs.

“Digitalisation and technological innovation have been included in the initiative and action plans in some of the free trade agreements recently endorsed in the Bandar Seri Begawan Roadmap, have aspired ASEAN’s transition into sustainable digital future,” said the prime minister, adding that the initiative is in accordance with a past global survey which saw Asia being home to the largest number of digital platform companies.

“Asia’s market capitalisation in 2016 alone exceeded USD930 billion, and Southeast Asia at USD7 billion. Hence, I urge fellow ASEAN member states to work closely in ensuring digital technologies will be benefitted by all; and in achieving such an aspiration, the wealth of experience, technological capacity and innovative approach of private sectors could be further consolidated though public policies.

“I firmly believe that through capitalising on those synergies, we would be able to pave the path for Inclusive digitally-enabled ASEAN in the near future.”