Photo - Datuk Badlisham Ghazali, Chief Executive Officer, MDeC
Announced in July 2012, Malaysia's recent national ICT push called Digital Malaysia has made good progress despite a soft global economy, according to the national ICT agency Multimedia Development Corporation, MDeC.
MDeC chief executive officer Datuk Badlisham Ghazali said since its launch last year, the initial eight projects under Digital Malaysia have cumulatively contributed RM288 million (US$90.96 million) in Gross National Income (GNI) and saw the creation of 3,335 high value jobs.
Badlisham said that in its first year, four key initiatives were identified as Digital Malaysia's priority areas: digital entrepreneurs, the bottom 40 percent of household income or the B40 group, youth (aged 15-24 years) and small and medium enterprises (SMEs). These four Digital Malaysia initiatives would:
- Tap global demand for digital products and services
- Increase citizen income and unlock entrepreneurship potential for the B40 group
- Empower the next generation workforce with digital skillsets and the productive use of digital tools
- Drive technology adoption amongst Malaysian SMEs to enhance productivity
He said that these four initiatives are the Digital Malaysia projects: Growing the Embedded Systems Industry, Microsourcing to Generate Income for the B40, Facilitating Societal Upliftment, Develop On-Demand Customised Online Education (CELEX), Asian e-Fulfillment Hub, Enabling e-Payment Services for SMEs and Micro Enterprises, Shared Cloud Enterprise Services, Develop On-Demand Customised Online Education, and Establish a Trusted Mobile Digital Wallet Platform.
"It is undeniable that the next wave of economic growth will come from the knowledge-based economy, with digital technologies as a key driver of progress," said Badlisham. "What we needed was a solid push and a clear framework to build a digital economy and Digital Malaysia is the right programme to foster an ecosystem driven by ICT that serves as an additional enabler for the country's transformation by 2020.
"We are pleased with the first year results and we believe that we are on track to achieve our 2020 targets of increasing GNI contribution of digital technologies to 17 percent and create 160,000 high value jobs," he said.
Some first year details
Badlisham detailed the first year progress of the Digital Malaysia projects, starting with:
1. Growing the Embedded Systems industry
The Growing the Embedded Systems Industry project has seen strong growth with two notable private sector leads at the helm: Intel and National Instruments, injecting private investments totalling RM254.78 million (US$80.47 million). 2012 saw the project generating RM264 million (US$83.38 million) in GNI and the creation of 2,945 jobs. In addition, the project also gave the embedded systems industry a funding boost made available as reimbursable grant to five embedded systems projects:
- Syntronic Malaysia - electric vehicle infrastructure charging solution
- Select-TV Solutions - digital set-top-box
- MDT Innovations - embedded wireless sensor system for ubiquitous monitoring for the retail sector
- Archtron R&D - digital smart home and security system
- 3ntity - digital signage kiosk
2. Microsourcing to generate income for the B40
Badlisham said community-level changes were to be delivered by the Microsourcing to Generate Income project in collaboration with the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development.
Since its implementation, the project has trained 1,200 locals, out of which 300 are already successfully earning additional income through microsourcing work. The long term aim of the project is to mobilise the latent workforce which currently exists in Malaysia by offering them with digital access that will help them generate income.
Moving forward, plans are underway to tap into over 338,000 unemployed citizens, 34 percent of which possess a diploma or higher qualifications. This will be done by using more than 2,400 broadband community centres available nationwide that can be used as potential work locations.
3. Facilitating societal upliftment
Designed for the lower income B40 group, the Facilitating Societal Uplift (FSU) project, which was rolled out as a pilot project in Pahang last year, also gained considerable traction, he said.
To date, about 40,000 B40 community profiles, from more than 480 'kampungs', have been verified and channeled to various programmes under the project. Additionally, about 500 community members have been successfully trained and mobilised as micro-workers. The full implementation of the FSU project is aimed at garnering the participation of one million people in the B40 category, and generate a minimum of RM150 million (US$47.38 million) in contributions from the private sector for societal and developmental programmes by 2020.
4. Develop on-demand customised online education (CELEX)
CELEX, the on-demand customised education system project designed to act as a foundation for growth to support a larger educational ecosystem also reported positive growth. Fuelled by private investments of RM6.1 million (US$1.93 million), the project has generated a GNI of RM4 million (US$1.26 million), and created 25 jobs. In addition, CELEX has also increased the number of digital books by local publishers. As of December 2012, 520 local books have been digitised from local publishers, such as literature from the National Library and Pelangi Publisher.
The long-term goal of the CELEX project is to impact over five million youth, who will represent 53 percent of the workforce by 2020. CELEX will eventually serve as online classrooms for degree and non-degree programmes, education and career counseling service providers as well as meeting points for employers and students.
5. Enabling e-payment services for SMEs and micro enterprises
SMEs were given a leg up in 2012 by the enabling e-payment services for SMEs and micro enterprises project driven in collaboration with SME Corp as the Public Sector lead. The project successfully activated 30,000 merchant outlet points, resulting in RM420,000 (US$130,000) in GNI contribution and created about 120 jobs. Moving forward, the project will focus on accelerating transactions by supporting the activated merchant points.
6. Shared cloud enterprise services
Meanwhile, the Shared Cloud Enterprise Project focused on SMEs has resulted in RM18.83 million (US$5.95 million) in GNI and created 125 jobs. This project aims to secure more participation from technology providers and partners. By participating, the service providers will be able to deliver competitive cloud services, culminating in the availability of a range of affordable cloud solutions, for the benefit of SMEs.
7. Trusted mobile digital wallet platform
Lastly, 2012 saw the trusted mobile digital wallet system project spearhead the development of the National Near Field Communication (NFC) Framework and the identification of priority industry verticals. In addition, the development and closed-loop trial of an NFC mobile money payment platform was also conducted with a major mobile network operator (MNO). The trials were held at two sites, targeting different types of users. The project will see further updates by the end of 2013.
"Building a vibrant Malaysian digital economy means adopting new ideas faster than ever before to meet market demands," said Badlisham. "More important than the numerical targets of high value job creation and GNI contributions, a strong digital economy will improve the quality of life of people irrespective of where they are."
"It will also help and encourage more Malaysians to innovate and ensure that businesses big and small will have the right ecosystem and platforms at their disposal to improve business efficiency and increase market share in both the local and international fronts," he said.
Moving forward, MDeC aims to unlock the Malaysian digital economy value chain by working with partners and industries, to help the nation grow new businesses and stimulate substantial digital economic growth, added Badlisham.
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