Tan Sri Jamaludin Ibrahim, managing director, president and group CEO of Axiata Group Berhad, yesterday met with Prime Minister Hun Sen to discuss ways of further developing the Kingdom’s digital economy.
Mr Jamaludin, along with Thomas Hundt, CEO of Smart Axiata, and Asri Hassan, group chief corporate officer of Axiata Group, made a courtesy visit to Mr Hun Sen at the Peace Place.
During the meeting, Mr Hun Sen commended the company’s performance, contributions and mobile leadership in the country and at the same time recommended the company to provide internet services to schools, libraries and hospitals in rural areas.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Eang Sophalleth, personal assistant to Mr Hun Sen, said that the Cambodian premier thanked Mr Jamaludin and the company for their socio-economic contributions to the development of the Kingdom and looked forward to Smart investing more into advanced technologies including, 5G and expanding their mobile broadband services at remote areas in the Kingdom.
According to the statement by the Prime Minister’s office, Mr Jamaludin said his “company will continue to expand mobile broadband in rural areas and, then he requested the prime minister’s advice to help the company participate even more in the Kingdom’s development.”
“In response, the prime minister thanked Mr Jamaludin and his company for playing a key role in contributing to the development of Cambodia, particularly in education, environment, sports and healthcare CSR programmes. He said this contribution is very important,” Mr Sophalleth said.
“[Mr Hun Sen] also asked the company to consider expanding its mobile broadband to more rural areas because Cambodian people, especially students, need this technology,” he said.
According to Mr Sophalleth, Mr Hun Sen said more children would attend school if they had access to the internet. The premier also asked the company to provide internet services to hospitals across the nation.
“Mr Hun Sen said Smart provides a good and fast service and that the company has earned the trust of the Cambodian people.”
According to a company statement issued after the meeting, both sides discussed key milestones to further propel the country’s digital economy, including 5G prospects and potential measures to expand mobile broadband in rural areas.
“These echo well with the new generation of young Cambodians who have rapidly embraced ICT and digital technologies, as well as with Samdech Techo’s vision of leading the way in Asean and bridging the digital divide in rural areas,” it said.
“Despite the exponential growth of mobile data usage and Smart’s strong financial performance, the delegation also shared the importance of promoting industry sustainability especially as Cambodia moves towards an investment intensive 5G-era and a telco-reliant digital economy.”
The statement notes that the company allocates more than one percent of its annual revenue, equivalent to over $3 million, to corporate social responsibility programmes in education, environment, community sports, and tech innovation.
By the end of 2018, Smart had invested over $1.42 billion in capital as well as operating expenditures and paid over $370 million in taxes, levies and regulatory fees.
“Through the Universal Service Obligation and Capacity Building and R&D Funds, the company also commits three percent of its mobile service revenue every year for projects that drive mobile broadband infrastructure and human capital development in the ICT sector.”
Smart Axiata is the Kingdom’s leading mobile telecommunications operator, currently serving eight million subscribers under the ‘Smart’ brand.