During the launch of the Huawei Customer Solutions Innovation Centre (CSIC) in Kuala Lumpur today, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob announced that Malaysia has the potential and ability to achieve 100% digital inclusivity.
While the statement is grand, what does it actually mean?
The US National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA), defines digital inclusion as: “activities necessary to ensure that all individuals and communities, including the most disadvantaged, have access to and use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs)”.
There are also 5 components to digital inclusion, according to the NDIA. They are:
- Affordable and robust broadband internet service.
- Internet-enabled devices that meet the needs of the user.
- Access to digital literacy training.
- Quality technical support.
- Applications and online content designed to enable and encourage self-sufficiency, participation and collaboration.
However, in his speech, Ismail Sabri focused on the nation’s economic growth through public-private partnership projects to lower government spending, improve delivery of public facilities and services, as well as encourage innovation and economies of scale.
“Strengthening these partnerships and forging new collaborations with the private sector will ensure Malaysia’s place as a top regional destination for investors and trigger rapid growth of the digital economy,”Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob.
He pointed out that the digital economy was expected to contribute 25.5% to Malaysia’s gross domestic product by 2025.
To that end, he said that there is a focus on strengthening growth enablers especially in the technology and innovation sectors for the next five years under the 12th Malaysia Plan.
Covid-19 highlighted the inadequacies in the nation’s digital inclusivity
Several initiatives were launched like Jaringan Prihatin with a goal to deliver internet access and internet-enabled devices to more Malaysians.
But the internet coverage in the country is still poor and the devices that were distributed we ridiculed for being inadequate.
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It was only recently that the government announced the launch of 5G networks in Malaysia. Meanwhile, the Prime Minister said that Malaysia is only expected to get 100% 4G coverage by 2025.
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He also indirectly admitted that Malaysia has fallen behind when it comes to broadband internet services even when compared to our neighbours.
READ MORE: Malaysia To Get 100% 4G Coverage By 2025, 80% 5G Coverage By 2026: Ismail Sabri
While Malaysia, as Ismail Sabri puts it, has the capacity and capability to achieve 100% digital inclusivity, it took a pandemic to wake it up and two years to get out of bed.
Based on his projection, the process will take a while. Perhaps, we will have 6G to contend with by then.