KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 6 — Malaysia needs to change its digital technology adoption ecosystem to cushion the devastating impact of COVID-19, says Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Khairy Jamaluddin.
He said as the COVID-19 pandemic had forced businesses to reshape how they ran their day-to-day operation, it had to shift from traditional methods to more digital and consumer-centric approaches.
However, he said, as the technology adoption in this country had historically been vendor-driven, it left Malaysia far behind other neighbouring countries in terms of catching up with new technology utilisation.
“Different ministries will procure different things without a grand blueprint in mind for the Malaysian tech ecosystem.
“In 2015, there were 81 national policies of which 56 were related to science, technology and innovation (St&I) with 458 agencies promoting or implementing them. A total of 458 agencies, imagine that. How do you not have silos?
“So, this has left Malaysia with serious problems in terms of digital and tech adoption; we are currently number 41 out of 180 countries on the Digital Adoption Index,” he said when delivering the keynote address at the Malaysian Digitalisation Forum through Zoom teleconferencing, here, today.
Therefore, Khairy said the government was determined to drive the development of digital economy to boost the nation’s economic growth. An advanced digital economy, which aligned to Industry 4.0 aspirations would attract investors and encourage human capital development, he added.
“In the short term, through its mandate to promote a more digitalised economy, the government has already taken steps towards promoting digital transactions.
“The e-Penjana credit programme is one of the initiatives under the Short-Term Economic Recovery Plan (PENJANA) and it is aimed at boosting consumer spending, which has seen a total of 10.98 million eligible recipients receiving RM50 via selected e-wallet operators to boost cashless transactions among Malaysians.
“A further RM700 million has also been allocated for the digitalisation of SMEs and MSMEs, which includes the RM100 million SME Digitalisation Matching Grant, RM500 million SME Technology Transformation Fund (applications to open next month) and RM100 million Smart Automation Grant initiatives,” he said.
The government, he added, had also set up 14 one-stop Digital Enhancement Centres in all states to facilitate access to financing and capacity-building for businesses, especially aimed towards SMEs with an allocation of RM70 million.
“Technology adoption is no longer an option – it is now the needed solution to cushion the devastating impact of COVID-19. The time is now and we don’t have a second chance,” he said.