KUALA LUMPUR: Dubbed the “Year of the Internet Economy”, 2017 witnesses many historical accomplishments within the information and communications technology (ICT) arena as Malaysia boldly strides towards embracing the Fourth Industrial Revolution (IR 4.0) along with the rest of the world.
The revolution brings changes in connecting with information and solving sophisticated problems while Big Data assists in complex decision-making.
Other notable developments widely-discussed and adopted throughout the year included that of artificial intelligence, Internet of Things, blockchain technology, financial technology and automation.
With Digital Free Trade Zone (DFTZ) being the biggest milestone for Malaysia and set to emerge as the region’s leading logistics hub, many agencies and businesses have stepped up their game to catch up with the growing electronic marketplace demand.
The first phase of DFTZ, comprising the e-Fulfilment Hub, Satellite Services Hub and e-Service Platform in Aeropolis, Sepang, will stimulate growth in e-trade and in turn transform the Kuala Lumpur International Airport as the regional gateway.
The DFTZ, launched on Nov 3, 2017, is the first digital platform outside of China expected to create 60,000 jobs and generate US$65bil in trade value by 2025.
Under Malaysia’s National e-Commerce Strategic Roadmap headed by the International Trade and Industry Ministry, the Government aims for e-commerce to contribute 20.8% to the gross domestic product (GDP) by 2020 from 18.2% this year.
And the plan is to launch the National Industry 4.0 Policy Framework in the first quarter of 2018.
In 2015, the e-commerce contribution to GDP was 5.9%, or RM68.3bil, before increasing to 6.1%, or RM74.6bil, in 2016.
The Malaysia Digital Economy Corp (MDEC), which is spearheading the government's initiative in empowering small and medium enterprises (SMEs), the Bottom 40 (B40) and Middle 40 (M40) groups, has managed to get 1,972 SMEs to participate in the first phase of DFTZ.
Although the number of SMEs on board has exceeded the initial target of 1,500, the National ICT Association of Malaysia e-Commerce Chapter chair Ganesh Kumar Bangah said only 15% to 20% of SMEs have embraced digitalisation.
“The SMEs are still left far behind in the digital business world despite the presence of various e-commerce platforms. Malaysia has about 700,000 SMEs and we hope that by 2020, 50% of them will make use of the platforms available, which is in line with the government's aspiration,” he said.
To enhance the digital economy, the Government, in Budget 2018, allocated RM22.2bil to SMEs, with RM100mil for eRezeki, eUsahawan and eLadang programmes to enhance the capabilities and income of the B40 and M40 groups.
MDEC chief executive officer Datuk Yasmin Mahmood said with those programmes going into their third year, it was estimated that 150,000 people would be trained in 2018.
“This will make a total of 341,745 participating in those programmes that will generate an estimated total income and revenue of RM544mil,” she said.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has challenged the SMEs to boost their productivity and share to the economy by at least 8% to achieve the target of 41% contribution to the GDP by 2020. — Bernama