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Deep Dive into Malaysia’s Digital Economy with MDEC CEO Dato’ Yasmin Mahmood - Part 1

AvantiKumar | Feb. 24, 2017
In an exclusive two-part interview, Computerworld Malaysia takes a pulse check of Malaysia’s national Digital Economy ambitions with MDEC chief Dato’ Yasmin Mahmood.

Yasmin was particularly proud of local animation companies, whose intellectual properties (IPs) have made an impact locally and even managed to grow globally. "Animasia Studio, for instance - the company behind Chuck Chicken - actually managed to sell their IP, to get their broadcast rights into Singapore and China. Animonsta Studios had the biggest local animation movie hit last year with Boboiboy: The Movie. And Les Copaque - our Upin & Ipin IP owner - they have also managed to sign a contract to bring the Upin & Ipin brand into China as well," she said, adding that MDEC believes that they will continue to expand.

With regard to digital inclusivity, Yasmin explained that MDEC's principle efforts on this initiative - the eRezeki and eUsahawan programmes - proved even more successful than they anticipated. "It's overwhelming! We wanted to make sure that the every social strata of our economy benefits: the B40 (bottom 40%) community; the rural people; the young people in the rural areas. And their response is tremendous! We have about 50,000 people that have trained with the eRezeki programme - and of this number, 23,000 are earning quite good incomes!" she said, adding that the users collectively earned RM70 [US$15.74] million worth of additional income.

Yasmin also mentioned how the eUsahawan programme mainly proved a boon for micro-entrepreneurs in the rural areas. "What's interesting is that in eUsahawan, 80 percent of the participants are actually youths. It's been a phenomenal movement. We trained 51,000 on eUsahawan up to 2016, and more than half have actually reported that they got incremental revenue from this.

She said that the users the wide range of products and services offered highlighted the creativity of the local population, giving an example of a young religious teacher whose sales of religious-based products and services - such as online tuition for Quran recitals - has seen him getting revenue of more than RM20,000 [US$4,497] per month from his small kampung [village] in Kelantan. "We truly believe that there is a strong movement - so in 2017, we want to continue this momentum, because it is creating such a huge impact on these communities. We must make sure that this gets as pervasive as possible, and we have to make sure that the people who were successful last year will be brought to the next level of success, depending on where they want to be."

On catalysing digital innovation ecosystems - the final pillar - Yasmin said that 2016 saw an inflection point for eCommerce in Malaysia. "eCommerce is very important because it's about trading - and as global trade moves more and more towards an eCommerce world, Malaysia is emerging as a very strong trading nation [with PIKOM recently opening a new industry chapter to support eCommerce growth]. As such, we have to make sure that Malaysia does not lose out when the world goes more towards virtual trading."


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