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Asean urged to ‘leapfrog’ into digital economy

May Kunmakara / Khmer Times Share:

Asean has the capacity to “leapfrog” into the digital economy, making the region globally competitive and enriching the lives of its citizens, a leading CEO told the World Economic Forum on Asean yesterday.
In a call to Asean leaders to fully embrace digital technology, Tan Sri Jamaludin Ibrahim, president and group CEO of Axiata Group Berhad, said by 2025, a digital revolution could transform daily life in Asean. Axiata is one of Asia’s largest telecommunications group.
“With a large and youthful population increasingly equipped with smartphones, Asean has an opportunity to pioneer the development of new digital services, especially advanced mobile financial services and e-commerce,” said Mr Jamaludin.
Mr Jamaludin said he had been lobbying Asean leaders for about a year to put digital technology on top of their national agenda to transform the way their citizens interact with both national and local governments.
“By 2025, most of Asean’s citizens will be digital natives, fully empowered to use high-tech tools to enhance their personal and professional lives,” he said.
“We need to leapfrog and pursue a broadband revolution that will accelerate innovation in mobile financial services, e-commerce and connected cities.”
Mr Jamaluddin said the implementation of a radical digital agenda could add $1 trillion to Asean’s GDP over the next 10 years.
“That’s what I have been telling Asean leaders in my lobbying efforts,” he said.
According to global consulting firm AT Kearney, the Asean digital economy currently generates approximately $150 billion in revenues per year.
“Connectivity and online services are the biggest components, each accounting for 35 to 40 percent of overall revenues,” said the firm in a report.
According to Asean figures, as at January this year there are more than 320 million internet users in the 10-member regional grouping.
John Rice, vice president of GE in Hong Kong, said that all sectors are inter-related in the world and the digital economy is important for bringing all of them together.
“Digital economy, from my understanding, is to improve efficiency when do business. When we build roads, railways, airports and seaports, these sectors relate to a digital economy,” he said. “I believe the private sector is the best partner for a digital economy.”

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