By GABEY GOHbytz@thestar.com.my
KUALA LUMPUR: A new national programme called Digital Malaysia has been launched by the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (Mosti) and the Multimedia Development Corporation (MDeC).
The programme aims to advance the country towards a developed digital economy by 2020, and is underpinned by three strategic thrusts, combining existing information and communications technology (ICT) and digital initiatives to foster a cohesive ecosystem.
"Digital Malaysia will create an ecosystem that promotes the pervasive use of ICT in all aspects of the economy, resulting in increased Gross National Income (GNI), enhanced productivity and improved standards of living," said Mosti Deputy Minister Datuk Haji Fadillah Yusof during the media briefing.
The three thrusts are to firstly move Malaysia from being supply to demand focused; secondly, shift behaviour from being consumption to production centric; and lastly, to evolve local talent from low knowledge-add to high knowledge-add, making these Malaysians innovators and knowledge workers.
"Today, Malaysia enjoys a strong ICT foundation but a holistic digital initiative is still needed to ensure the nation is able to advance further," said Datuk Badlisham Ghazali, chief executive of MDeC, which is caretaker of the MSC Malaysia initiative to leapfrog the nation towards a knowledge-based economy.
On how the Digital Malaysia initiative differs from the MSC Malaysia programme, Badlisham said Digital Malaysia takes into account the rapid changes in technology and socio-economic conditions since the MSC Malaysia was launched in 1996.
"While the MSC Malaysia is focused on driving and growing the local ICT industry, the Digital Malaysia programme takes a more holistic approach, and seeks to plug the gaps across sectors and spur active participation in the digital economy from all," Badlisham said.
Meanwhile, Fadillah said the role of Mosti and the Government has evolved to that of empowering the citizens and businesses to use digital technology in ways that will add value to their lives and enterprises respectively. "This is where Digital Malaysia comes in," he said.
In formulating the framework of this programme, labs were conducted from July to August last year with various stakeholders and industry players. From these discussions, eight projects have been granted approval and will be rolled out this year, forming the first phase of the programme.
The eight projects, built on a private-public partnership model, include an Asian e-Fulfilment hub; e-Payment services for small and medium enterprises and micro enterprises; accelerated international trade via e-Commerce; shared cloud enterprise services; microsourcing for income generation; on-demand customised online education; growing the embedded systems industry; and a mobile digital wallet.
The Digital Malaysia programme aims to raise the ICT contribution to Malaysia's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) from 9.8% in 2010 to 17% by 2020. Also, it intends to make an overall digital economy contribution of RM294bil (17%) to the GNI by 2020.
Within the same timeframe, an estimated investment value of RM31.2bil is expected to be generated from the programme based on a public-private-partnership model.
In addition to that, about 160,000 jobs are expected to be created, with a targeted additional RM7,000 per annum for 350,000 citizens from digital income.
To aid in tracking and monitoring the progress of the various projects under Digital Malaysia, Badlisham shared that an ICT Satellite Account is being developed together with the Ministry of Finance and the Department of Statistics.
An ICT satellite account involves the identification of ICT products and activities within the national accounting framework, so that a comprehensive and coherent set of economic data on ICT supply and use can be produced.
"About 187 indicators have been identified by the working group so far and we expect the first report to be produced by the first quarter of next year," said Badlisham.
Digital Malaysia is under the stewardship of the Digital Malaysia Steering Committee, which includes members from Mosti; Mimos; Malaysian Administrative Modernisation and Management Planning Unit (Mampu); Department of Statistics; Economic Planning Unit; Ministry of Finance; Performance Management & Delivery Unit (Pemandu); and MDeC.
Mosti Minister Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili heads the steering committee and reports to the Prime Minister.