Malaysia most attractive in Asean for digital economy, MDEC says

The country has lower cost of doing business compared to immediate neighbouring countries


Malaysia is poised to sustain its positive growth momentum in e-commerce within Asean for the remainder of 2017 and throughout next year.

Malaysia Digital Economy Corp Sdn Bhd (MDEC) chief strategy officer Siva Ramanathan said Malaysia has an advantage to spur growth in this industry as it has lower cost of doing business compared to immediate neighbouring countries.

“Malaysia also has programmes in the education system that has aided in promoting digital curiosity to ensure a sustainable success within this ecosystem,” he told The Malaysian Reserve on the sidelines of Malaysian Institute of Management (MIM) Digital Leadership conference in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

Siva further elaborated that the government is very supportive of the digital economy, following Prime Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak’s recent announcement that Malaysia is expected to reach a level of digital maturity this year.

“With various international companies penetrating the country, mainly Alibaba Group Holding Ltd through the Digital Free Trade Zone, which is scheduled to take effect by the fourth-quarter of 2017, it is an indicator that Malaysia is on the right trajectory moving forward,” he added.

Second Finance Minister Datuk Seri Johari Abdul Ghani was recently reported as saying that small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and the digital economy are expected to get more than the previous budget’s RM17 billion allocation in the upcoming Budget 2018.

The Finance Ministry noted that the two sectors make up approximately 98% of the businesses in Malaysia — contributing 65% of employment, which is equivalent to 6.6 million.

SMEs and the digital economy comprise 36% of the total gross domestic product to date, which is about RM1.2 trillion, while 80% of local SMEs contribute approximately RM800 billion in total exports.

According to MDEC’s data, in 2016 Malaysia has approximately 20.62 million active Internet users with 70% penetration, 18 million active social media users with 60% penetration, 43.4 million or 143% mobile penetration, 18 million users on Facebook or about 60% penetration, more than 3.5 million active Twitter users, in tandem with more than 160,000 Uber drivers achieved in less than two years, along with an average of 80 minutes spent on You- Tube by a single user.

The Digital Leadership conference, organised by MIM, was officiated and witnessed by its president Tun Mohammed Hanif Omar.

In his keynote address, Mohammed Hanif said organisational leaders need to embrace digitalisation by offering solutions that are beneficial for the society, in tandem with technology and innovation growth.

“With that, we have realigned our focus to becoming more than just a membership body and training provider to discussion enablers, who seek to create the right atmosphere and bring to light issues and opportunities to help spur growth in individuals, organisations, as well as the country.

“The era of Internet and digitalisation is a beautiful thing, but we have yet to understand its full capacity for it is only a tool that needs to be wielded by minds, which in turn will be guided by other minds of leaders,” he said.

Mohammed Hanif said Malaysia has blossomed to become an emerging economy, enabling the nation to achieve even more in terms of innovation amid rising global digitalisation.

“MIM has now been serving this country for more than 50 years, of which the institution was created to provide education opportunities for managers and leaders of those years with the hope that this community of people would contribute even better to our nation’s growth,” he added.

The speakers for the conference included a list of professionals from multinational corporations, SMEs, e-commerce, as well as technology providers. The one-day strategic and management conference highlighted how organisational leaders can implement the right strategies to encourage more participation in the rising digital economy to contribute positively to corporation’s value and revenue.