Through this plan, by 2025, the digital economy is expected to contribute 22.6% to the country's GDP. At the same time, the plan also aims to open 500,000 job opportunities in the digital economy.
Malaysia's Prime Minister Muhyiddin officially launched the MyDIGITAL initiative on Friday morning (19 February), a part of the government's plans to "transform Malaysia into a digitally-driven, high income nation and a regional leader in digital economy."
Commemorating this in a virtual ceremony, PM Muhyiddin said: "MyDIGITAL initiative aims to empower every Malaysian, from Perlis to Sabah, to improve their lives in every aspect. Among them, it includes ideas and plans to improve digital literacy, create high-income jobs, make banking and finance business easier and more organised, provide virtual educational access to our children and bring medical facilities to remote towns.
"It is also a digital transformation direction plan that is capable of enabling business sectors to compete on the global stage by strengthening the smoothness and efficiency of their operations."
The initiative will complement the country's national development policies such as the Twelfth Malaysia Plan and Shared Prosperity Vision 2030 [Wawasan Kemakmuran Bersama (WKB) 2030], and includes the Malaysia Digital Economy Blueprint (the Blueprint).
It sets out a combination of initiatives and targets across three phases of implementation until 2030:
- Phase 1 starts from 2021 to 2022, and will strengthen the foundation of digital adoption.
- Phase 2, which covers 2023 to 2025, will drive inclusive digital transformation.
- Phase 3, covering 2026 to 2030, will make Malaysia a digital content and cyber security lead in the regional market.
Some highlights include:
- By 2025, the digital economy is expected to contribute 22.6% to the country's GDP. At the same time, the plan also aims to open 500,000 job opportunities in the digital economy.
- Meanwhile, the government will also encourage 875,000 micro, small and medium enterprises to accept the use of e-commerce.
- In addition, these initiatives under the auspices of MyDIGITAL can also catalyse 5,000 start-up companies or start-ups in the next five years.
- MyDIGITAL will also be a starting point to attract new investments in the digital sector of RM70bn from within and outside the country.
- Next, by 2030, the government is targeting the level of productivity of the economic sector to increase by 30%, compared to today.
- For the public sector, all agencies will provide cashless transaction facilities as the main choice by 2022.
In his speech, PM Muhyiddin summarised the key points to note across all three phrases, detailed below.
To accelerate innovation and create an effective digital ecosystem, the PM noted that four important types of digital infrastructure under MyDIGITAL need to be built first. This construction effort will be done through a "Government and private partnership approach" where the private sector shares contributing capital and skills funds:
First, a total of RM21bn will be invested over five years through the National Digital Network (JENDELA) project to strengthen existing connectivity. This fixed-line optical fiber network will cover almost 100% of the population in stages - from 7.5mn premises by the end of 2022, to 9mn premises by the end of 2025. Based on this broader fibre optic network, the country will be better prepared to switch to 5G network in the near future.
Second, a total of RM1.65bn will be invested by several telecommunications companies to strengthen connection to the international cable network until 2023. This will open the door for faster and more stable international data transfer, thus lowering internet costs to consumers in Malaysia.
Third, a total of RM15bn will be invested over ten years for the implementation of 5G nationwide. This will create approximately 105,000 job opportunities. This effort will be carried out through a special entity or "special purpose vehicle" under the Malaysian government. This entity will then be given the appropriate spectrum to own, implement and manage 5G infrastructure.
PM Muhyiddin added: "By the end of this year, 5G technology will start to be enjoyed by the people in stages. With this, Malaysia will be one of the first countries in the region to build a 5G ecosystem using the internet and cloud services in real-time or real-time, to enable information to be shared instantly.
"Imagine, this 5G technology is a gamechanger, because there will be more smart services that bring a direct impact to the wellbeing of the people. This is because 5G not only promises faster internet access, but more importantly, it enables various important applications to be in the hands of users, including health monitoring applications for chronic patients, smart emergency assistance, and special applications for senior citizens living alone."
Fourth, between RM12bn to RM15bn will be invested by Cloud Service Provider (CSP) companies over the next five years. The government has so far given conditional permission to four CSP companies - Microsoft, Google, Amazon and Telekom Malaysia - to build and manage hyperscale data centres and cloud services. These data-intensive data centres as well as hybrid cloud services, will also be created to increase data storage space, reduce operating costs and improve analytical efficiency.
In addition, the government has also proposed to appoint three local ICT companies as Manage Service Providers (MSPs) to work with these CSPs to manage CSP services for public sector agencies, in line with the desire to strengthen the capabilities of local companies. These are Enfrasys Consulting, Prestariang Systems and Cloud Connect.
As a measure to empower public sector cloud computing services, the government, through the Cloud First strategy, has targeted the migration of 80% of public data to this hybrid cloud system by the end of 2022. In addition to making data collection and management more effectively and smoothly, this strategy can reduce government costs in information technology management in the long-run. Cloud services will also allow Big Data, AI, IoT and other applications to be used to strengthen government services.
Following this, PM Muhyiddin shared that the construction of this digital infrastructure will be the backbone in forming a sustainable digital ecosystem. This ecosystem is the" main engine in sustainable economic growth."
In line with this, the government will continue to assist in strengthening this new ecosystem in several ways, including:
- By fostering a regulatory environment that supports digital use while protecting the privacy of citizens;
- By administering public data sources so that they can be jointly utilized by public and private organisations; and
- By facilitating the evolution of the labour market in industries that are likely to be disrupted by automation and digital technology.
"Therefore, we will ensure that digital companies involved with the government, work hard to help Malaysians improve their digital skills. These companies, among others, will also collaborate with local universities to create the Faculty of Artificial Intelligence and so on as well as work with the government to implement employee skills improvement programmes in general."
Lead image and infographics / Screenshot from the Malaysia Digital Economy Blueprint, Economic Planning Unit's website