Digital economy is set to boost ASEAN GDP, according to a newly released report by A.T. Kearney and Axiata Group Berhad (Axiata).
Findings of the report indicate that the growth of the digital economy could add US$1 trillion to the GDP of the Association of Southeast Nations (ASEAN) bloc over the next 10 years. A robust economy with a combined GDP of US$2.5 trillion growing at 6% per annum will aid ASEAN to become one of the world's top-five digital economies by 2025.
This goal is achievable if there is a literate population of more than 600 million in the region with a well-developed ICT cluster boasting a track record of innovation and investment into new technology.
"When it comes to market size and growth opportunities, there are few economic regions that can match ASEAN's potential, especially when it comes to the digital economy. More than half of the bloc's population is aged 30 or below," said Naveen Menon, one of the authors of the report.
Comprehensive digital strategy
ASEAN should develop a comprehensive digital strategy, not just at the country level but one for the entire region. The region should focus on improving broadband and Internet access by releasing an additional 20MHz of spectrum per operator, per country.
It should ensure that there are no more than four telecoms operators per market and accelerate innovation in mobile financial services like allowing creation of digital-only banks. A single digital payment platform should be created first in-country and then across ASEAN.
"Through accelerated innovation, mobile network operators are ready to support and grow the ASEAN digital economies of cashless societies, smart cities, borderless digital services and financial inclusion," said Jamaludin Ibrahim, president and group chief executive officer of Axiata. "However, for mass adoption of the services to drive digital economies, policies and a strong digital agenda is required in the region with visionary government and industry collaboration. It is our hope, therefore, to see operators and governments quickly come together to accelerate this development. I believe a 'revolution' is required!"
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