Accelerating digital economy: The key for inclusive integration in Asia-Pacific

July 31, 2021 | 13:16
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Representatives and thought leaders from the government, industry, and academia across the Asia-Pacific joined a virtual conversation on July 29 to explore the multiple facets of the digital economy, from a market, technology, inclusiveness, and sustainability perspective.
Accelerating digital economy: The key for inclusive integration in Asia-Pacific
Participants in the virtual conversation on July 29 discussed about acceleration of digital economy in the Asia-Pacific

At the webinar entitled “Accelerate Digital Economy for Inclusive Integration in Asia Pacific – Connecting Digital Industries in Pandemic” held by Huawei, participants called for leveraging digital opportunities to build an inclusive ecosystem and promoting regional integration, which is particularly important while still combating the pandemic.

Ambassador of Indonesia to China Djauhari Oratmangun pointed out in his keynote speech that a new digital economy is shaping the region. “The digital transformation has been significantly accelerated during the pandemic, speeding up business changes. Indonesia endeavors to expand its digital economy to achieve social recovery and digital transformation. I would love to witness how Huawei adds value in the face of fast-growing digitalisation.”

Based on digital knowledge and infrastructure, the digital economy has powered a growing proportion of regional GDP and boosted resilience amid the pandemic. ASEAN predicts the digital economy will contribute $1 trillion dollars to regional GDP by year.

Countries from the region have released future-oriented roadmaps on removing trade barriers, improving digital coverage and ensuring ubiquitous access to digital services to facilitate the implementation of the digital economy.

Dr. Le Quang Lan, assistant director for ICT and Tourism Division, ASEAN Secretariat, when referring to enabling a digital economy ecosystem to accelerate social recovery and regional integration, said, “The development of digital economy ecosystem is a process that involves the active participation of multiple stakeholders including those from the private sectors. We welcome the initiative of Huawei to organise this dialogue to practically advocate the process.”

Being part of the ecosystem, Huawei is committed to enabling ASEAN’s Digital Masterplan 2025 in three key areas, namely ICT connectivity, talent empowerment, and ecosystem incubation, according to Jay Chen, vice president at Huawei Asia-Pacific. The digital economy unfolding in the region addresses inclusive access to digital service, a landscape facilitating startup scale-up, and a circular, sustainable economy.

Dr. Tan Khee Giap, Chairman of the Singapore National Committee for Pacific Economic Cooperation (SINCPEC), stressed the importance of the social considerations of digitalising the economy during the panel discussion. “Digitalisation is not just about technology progress, but quality empowerment of digitalisation to the public at large is paramount if inclusive integration is to be achieved. The role of the government is providing digital capability as a public good, it can be complemented by private sector ICT companies such as Huawei with quality connectivity.”

Dr. Alvin P. Ang from Ateneo de Manila University agreed with the openly accessible approach on upskilling the public with digital knowledge. “The education system must be put in context at the foundational elements of digitalisation. Whether it’s in the basic education level or in the middle ages or those who are working already, trying to learn and upgrade themselves, we have to invest in them and give our rural areas an opportunity to catch up by at least providing them with the basic skills to get through the technology highway.”

Huawei has long recognised the critical importance of providing everyone digital skills and leaving no one behind as economies digitalise. Over the years, Huawei has launched multiple programmes to train over 100,000 people with ICT empowerments in the region in cooperation with governments, universities, and NGOs.

Conveying the business perspective, Professor Jose Decolongon, COO and managing director of Corporate Foresight, Embiggen Consulting Philippines said, “Micro, small, and medium enterprises need to understand digitalisation to perceive the opportunities when it comes to exploring the digital side of the business. Challenges are faced by these enterprises but also the large organisations. It is related to coverage and speed of digital infrastructure. This is where telecom players such as Huawei and our local players can play an important role.”

For a sustainable digital economic ecosystem, new technologies such as 5G, Internet of Things, and cloud provide great promise in terms of enhancing de-carbonisation and the circular economy. In the Asia-Pacific, Huawei has increased investment in sustainable green solutions, leveraging clean power generation, electric transportation, and smart energy storage.

This sustainable trend is captured in Vietnam. “Vietnam is at the turning point for catching up fourth industrial revolution and our economy is very open, relying more on innovation and sustainability. And the digital transformation in Vietnam has linked with inclusive integration in ASEAN and the Asia-Pacific, in which Huawei can play an important role,” said Dr. Vo Tri Thanh, director of the Institute for Brand Strategy and Competition.

As expected, the next five years could see the ASEAN region make giant strides towards becoming a digital society, and the transformation will enable member states to recover faster from the pandemic.

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By Bich Thuy

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