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Digital literacy a key component to new ecommerce strategy

Jason Boken / Khmer Times Share:
Nick Beresford, UNDP Resident Representative, says a lack of digital literacy is affecting the ecommerce sector. KT/Pann Rachana

The government has released a new ecommerce strategy to address how the nation can best benefit from the rapid growth over the last decade of the Kingdom’s digital economy.

One of the main focuses of the strategy is how to improve digital literacy in order to close any skill gaps that would hinder Cambodia’s ecommerce ecosystem from flourishing in the future.

Cambodia’s digital economy, especially the ecommerce sector, has experienced exponential growth.

Internet accessibility and the affordability of mobile devices have resulted in a surge in the number of people shifting their buying and selling habits to online platforms. There is, however, a skills gap issue to address in the nations being able to keep up with ecommerce demand.

Nick Beresford, United Nations Development Programme Resident Representative, said: “A lack of digital literacy definitely is affecting the ecommerce sector. This is not just about a lack of Information Communication Technology (ICT) skills, it’s also about a need to improve soft and associated skills. For example, the skills that firms need and look for in young Cambodian job seekers, include [things such as] office management and client relation skills and so on.”

Beresford also pointed out among these professional skill gaps is one in the form of language barriers.

“Ability in the English language is essential. [Many] companies now have multinational aspects, including ICT [information communication technology] businesses that are conducted using English. To address this and to improve productivity in the ecommerce sector, we need to take on board that [closing the skills gap] is not just about improving ICT skills but also [improving] soft and associated skills in the English language,” Beresford explained.

The challenge in closing the skills gap is complicated by varying needs in urban and rural parts of the country with gender also playing a part, according to Beresford.

“It’s important to note that the skills gap is unevenly distributed.  Work done by the UNDP shows that the skills gap in rural areas is higher than in urban areas and, on average, women have less access to the skills they need than men. These disparities are making these skills gaps worse. We need to try to address this to [create] a more even playing field and a more successful future for the ecommerce sector and the people involved,” Beresford concluded.

The new ecommerce strategy represents a step in the right direction for Cambodia, shedding light on the need for an education system that includes digital technology in its curriculum no matter what age the student, say experts.

Undersecretary of State and spokesperson at the Ministry of Commerce Penn Sovicheat said: “The ecommerce strategy provides an opportunity [for] progress in the digital sector. A major part of our plan is to raise public awareness and focus on the next generation’s education. [Over] the last decade that the internet, social media and other digital communications [media have] come to life, we have [witnessed] a lot of changes among the people of Cambodia in terms of [their] adapting to a new way of life.”

He added, “Recently, restrictions caused by COVID-19 [have created] the need for adaptation. Cambodian students have been studying online and [more and more] sales are happening over the internet. Facebook has become much more popular, both in the city and the provinces, as a [means] of communication and for business. Thus, even though we [have] come up against challenges, we expect a positive outcome and we hope that, with the proper implementation of our ecommerce strategy and action plan, we will be taking a step in the direction of reaching our digital goals.”


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