To boost regional recovery in the post-COVID 19 era, Asean should accelerate its digital integration, which has the potential to generate a $1 trillion uplift in gross domestic product (GDP) by 2025, said Dr Aladdin D. Rillo, deputy secretary-general for Asean Economic Community, at an online panel.
Against the backdrop of the pandemic, the Foreign Policy Community of Indonesia (FPCI) in collaboration with Huawei, held an interactive dialogue among policymakers, academics and industry experts on the current state of digital connectivity, challenges and potential towards a more digitalised Asean.
“I look at digital connectivity and transformation as important priorities and cross-cutting issues that affect every sector in the economy,” said Rillo. “Therefore, it would require a multi-stakeholder approach or response. And, this also requires participation from stakeholders including the private sector.”
He stated that Asean needs the contribution of all stakeholders, from countries, academia and the private sector, including companies such as Huawei, to address a number of priorities in the region and ensure that digital transformation is here to stay. These include improving digital skills, promoting digital data governance and strengthening cybersecurity. This can be accomplished through two possibilities, first by sharing data to guide policies and deliver public services and second by providing digital solutions to achieve resilience.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, information communications technology (ICT) has been playing a foundational role in the fight against the Coronavirus.
Across the Asean region, industries have started to show more confidence that ICT will be a major boost in speeding post-pandemic recovery.
Digital transformation strengthens connectivity among Asean members to better use digital technology to sustain and grow business, governments and societies in its 650 million regional population.
Dr Dino Patti Djalal, founder and chairman of FPCI, said research showed that countries with robust connectivity infrastructure can mitigate up to half of the negative economic effects resulting from the outbreak.
“We need to have more digital literacy, digital access and digital infrastructure. If we get these things right, we can actually achieve the vision of having emancipation of education. The most important thing would be the harmonisation of regulation among the 10 Asean countries. Whatever vision we have to digitise Asean, the key challenge will always be in the regulation. Once we sort this out, we can make progress by leaps and bounds,” the FPCI chairman said.
Jay Chen, vice-president of Huawei Asia-Pacific, believed that by leveraging knowledge, technology and data, digital integration will help synchronise Asean member countries’ efforts to boost the regional economy and open doors for Asean to solidify its place as a true and autonomous economic power in the new global digital economy.
Themed “Towards a more digitalised Asean: Shifting Currents, Opportunities and Challenges in time of Pandemic”, the panel featured a wealth of regional high-level figures.
This included Dr Rizal Affandi Lukman, deputy minister for international economic cooperation,Indonesian Coordinating Ministry for Economic Affairs, Odo Manuhutu, deputy coordinating minister for tourism and creative economy, Indonesian Coordinating Ministry for Maritime and Investment Affairs, Dr Jayant Menon, visiting senior fellow at the regional economic studies programme of ISEAS, Yusof Ishak Institute Singapore and former lead economist of Asian Development Bank and Sam Cheng Qingjun, principal of digital transformation, public and government affairs at Huawei.