As Cambodia thrives to harness the Fourth Industrial Revolution and embarks on a path towards a digital economy, 5G technology is one of the key tools for Cambodia to realise the ambition to leapfrog its economic structure to a knowledge-based and innovation-driven economy. Digital economy refers to all activities that use digitised data.
At the first Digital Economy Forum this month, local and international stakeholders stressed the importance of building infrastructure, human capital and institutional capacity to accelerate digitalization in the Kingdom. To build a full-fledged economy, Cambodia needs at least a decade to invest in critical infrastructure and key resources, including supporting the local start-ups to grow and promote digital literacy for the whole population.
Public-private partnership needs to be further strengthened together with social behaviour changes and people’s participation in the digital economy to ensure that no one is left behind in the digital age. The Cambodian government also pays attention to building an inclusive digital economy and people-centred digitalisation and innovation.
Huawei, the leading company in new technology and innovation, is going to introduce 5G in Cambodia this year and it will make Cambodia the first country in Southeast Asia to introduce 5G technology. At Digital Cambodia, David Li, CEO of Huawei Technologies (Cambodia) said, “Cambodia is an emerging market, a great engine that connects innovation and business. 2019 will be a significant year for 5G in Cambodia.”
“Huawei, as the world’s leading vendor of 5G, will help all operators realize their 5G dreams. We will continuously invest in 5G, broadband, cloud, artificial intelligence and smart devices, to help our customers maximize the benefits of this emerging technology,” he added.
Countries that embrace digital transformation and 5G technology at an early stage will have competitive economic advantage in the medium and long term in the new playing field of digital economy. It is generally believed that 5G is a catalyst of transformative changes, which will have profound effects on human and machine productivity.
The study report by HIS Economics and HIS Technology in 2017 shows that by 2035, 5G will enable $12.3 trillion of global economic output and 5G deployment will fuel sustainable long term growth to global real GDP. Basically, 5G is used for enhanced mobile broadband, massive Internet of Things, and Mission Critical Services.
Another study by Commonwealth of Australia in 2018 also explains the linkages between 5G and productivity. It argues, “5G is likely to have an economic effect well beyond any short-term commercial return. Depending on the scale and pace of the rollout and the development and uptake of the services it supports, it has the potential to produce far-reaching economic benefits by supporting, and even accelerating, Australia’s digital transformation.”
Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has for several times expressed his support for 5G technology. He will perhaps also mention about the importance of digital connectivity and the role of 5G at the second Belt and Road Forum in Beijing next month. Building synergies between the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) with Cambodia’s Rectangular Development Strategy is Cambodia’s approach towards BRI. The future area of cooperation between China and Cambodia would be building digital infrastructure connectivity between China and Cambodia under the framework of BRI.
The next steps for Cambodia to harness 5G technology and successfully realise its digital economy are to develop human capital and skilled labour forces, reform public institutions, develop new rules and regulations, strengthen public-private partnership, promote multi-stakeholder dialogue, invest in research and development, and foster international cooperation and partnership.