Unlocking the potential of digital economy (The Star)

Countries share in regional e-commerce revenue
Source: The Star, Statista

While digitalisation has become the new normal amid the Covid-19 pandemic, more concrete efforts are needed to steer Malaysia to become a regional leader in the digital economy.

Economists said the right measures should be put in place if the country wants to ensure the success of its digital initiatives, including the much touted Malaysia Digital Economy Blueprint. Otherwise, they said, the nation would lose out to its regional peers.

The blueprint sets the direction, strategies and initiatives to drive the growth of the digital economy, which would be implemented up to 2030.

The digital economy is targeted to contribute 22.6% to Malaysia’s gross domestic product (GDP) by 2025. In 2019, the information and communication technology sector contributed RM289.2bil to the economy (19.1% of GDP), growing by 8% per year from RM213bil in 2015 (18.1% of GDP).

Socio-Economic Research Centre executive director Lee Heng Guie said that, among others, the digital infrastructure, in particular high-speed broadband, must be further enhanced for electronic communications and applications that are crucial for transmitting data.

“Although the Mandatory Standard on Access Pricing has reduced broadband prices and increased broadband speed, the coverage and speed of broadband, notably mobile broadband, is still markedly weaker than our regional peers,” he told StarBiz.

According to Speedtest Global Index (January 2021), Malaysia’s mobile download speed ranked 94th (out of 140) in the world and 8th among Asean nations.

The 4G mobile network coverage under Network Readiness Index 2020 also showed that Malaysia was ranked 61st (out of 134), lagging behind Singapore, Thailand, India and Vietnam.

Lee said: “Digital experience needs to be enhanced in terms of speed, reliability and coverage to narrow the urban-rural digital divides. The implementation of the RM21bil National Digital Network Plan (Jendela) must be expedited.

“For example, all the industrial parks should be equipped with high-speed Internet infrastructure to enhance business operations.”

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The Star

23 August 2021

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