To boost the regional recovery in the post-COVID 19 era, ASEAN should accelerate its digital integration which has the potential to generate a US $1 Trillion uplift in GDP by 2025, said Dr. Aladdin D. Rillo, Deputy Secretary-General for ASEAN Economic Community, at an online panel on Thursday.
Against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Foreign Policy Community of Indonesia (FPCI) in collaboration with Huawei Indonesia held an interactive dialogue among the policymakers, academics and industry experts on the current state of digital connectivity, challenges, and potentials towards a more digitized ASEAN.
“I look at digital connectivity and transformation as important priorities and cross-cutting issues that affect every sector in the economy. Therefore, it would require multi-stakeholder approach or response. And, this also requires participation from stakeholders including private sector, like Huawei,” said Aladdin D. Rillo.
He stated that ASEAN needs the contribution of all stakeholders, from country, academia, to the private sector – including companies like Huawei – to address a number of priorities in the region and ensure that digital transformation is here to stay. These include improving digital skills, promoting digital data governance and strengthening cyber security. This can be accomplished through two possibilities, firstly by sharing data to guide policies and deliver public services, and secondly by providing digital solutions to achieve resilience.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, ICT has been playing foundational roles in the fight against the coronavirus and helping ease its adverse impacts. Across the ASEAN region, industries have started to put more confidence that ICT will be a major push to speed up post-pandemic recovery. The digital transformation strengthens connectivity among ASEAN country members to better use digital technology to sustain and grow business, governments and societies of 650 million population.
Dr. Dino Patti Djalal, Founder and Chairman of FPCI, said that digital connectivity is becoming more relevant as the COVID-19 pandemic hits the world. Research showed that countries with robust connectivity infrastructure can mitigate up to half of the negative economic impacts resulting from the outbreak.
“Regarding digitalization, we need to have more digital literacy, digital access and digital infrastructure. If we get these things right, we can actually achieve the vision of having emancipation of education. The most important thing would be the harmonization of regulation among the 10 ASEAN countries, whatever vision we have to digitize ASEAN, the key challenge will always be in the regulation. Once we sort this out, we can make progress by leaps and bounds,” the FPCI Chairman said.
Sharing similar views with Dino, Jay Chen, Vice President of Huawei Asia Pacific, believed that leveraging knowledge, technology and data, digital integration will help synchronize ASEAN member countries’ efforts to boost the regional economy and open doors for ASEAN to solidify its place as a true and autonomous economic power in the new global digital economy.
“As a leading global provider of information and communications technology infrastructure and smart devices, Huawei is dedicated to working with our global partners to support ASEAN on its initiatives for regional digital transformation and integration,” said Jay Chen.
Themed “Towards a more digitalized ASEAN: Shifting Currents, Opportunities, and Challenges in time of Pandemic,” the panel featured region’s high-level figures including Dr. Rizal Affandi Lukman, Deputy Minister for International Economic Cooperation, Indonesian Coordinating Ministry for Economic Affairs, Odo Manuhutu, Deputy Coordinating Minister for Tourism and Creative Economy, Indonesian Coordinating Ministry for Maritime and Investment Affairs, Dr. Jayant Menon, Visiting Senior Fellow at Regional Economic Studies Programme of ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute Singapore & Former Lead Economist of ADB, and Sam Cheng Qingjun, Principal of Digital Transformation, Public & Government Affairs of Huawei.