Sabah, Sarawak leveraging digital economy to drive bumiputra economic growth

PUTRAJAYA: Digital economy is being leveraged by Sabah and Sarawak to move the needle towards improving the socioeconomic growth in these two states.

Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor said the digital economy held a significant potential for the state and offered ways to overcome traditional challenges while creating new opportunities for economic growth.

The state's population, which comprised 90% bumiputra, faced barriers in terms of economic opportunities, limited access to social services, healthcare facilities, telecommunications and quality education due to geographical factors, said Hajiji.

As such, he said there was a need to empower its bumiputra community by providing access to human capital development, training, quality education, digital and financial literacy and the provision of infrastructures.

"To fully maximise the potential of the digital economy, we must focus on preparing key infrastructures such as developing a solid network of infrastructures and improving connectivity.

"This will not only support the grassroots economy but also serve as a foundation for a more inclusive and sustainable economic development for Sabah," he said in his speech on the last day of the 2024 Bumiputera Economic Congress on Saturday (March 2).

Hajiji also said that the six strategic thrusts announced by Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi to drive the Bumiputera Economic Transformation were in line with the aspirations of Sabah and important to close key development imbalances.

These thrusts included eliminating implementation gaps; establishing equality among regions, races, and groups; identifying new opportunities and future new economic developments.

Hajiji also said that as funding and allocations were prime movers to drive bumiputra empowerment, the bumiputra economic agenda and initiatives should be institutionalised.

"We envision to close the poverty gaps and bring a new change to the people's lives.

"We believe that no matter how far out the rakyat lives, but if they have access to good infrastructure, facilities and quality education, they will be able to succeed.

"We hope that prosperity can be shared together in this Keluarga Malaysia.

"Don't make the South China Sea a barrier to our development and shared harmony," he said.

Meanwhile, Sarawak Deputy Premier Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan said as 72.4% of Sarawak's 2.5 million residents were bumiputra, efforts to increase this community's economic involvement were in line with the policy and objectives of the Sarawak state government.

Sarawak had launched the Sarawak Digital Economy Blueprint which outlined the strategy for the development of the digital economy to boost productivity and economic development, he said.

"According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the digital economy is estimated to contribute an average of 24.3% to the world economy in 2025 which is worth USD25 trillion.

"Imagine if we were able to take advantage of just 1% of this value, it would contribute USD2.5 trillion to the country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP)," said Amar in his speech.

He also said that Sarawak has dived into new economies including green energy generation such as hydropower, which the state aimed to generate 10,000MW of energy by 2030.

Amar said that Sarawak has the potential to generate 20,000MW of hydropower and has so far developed approximately 5,625MW of which 70% is from renewable energy sources.

"Energy development is important to move all aspects of development especially in the economic field.

"It also has many spillovers in terms of power generation, transmission, and distribution including creating many business and enterprise opportunities that can be ventured by bumiputra companies including our small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

"I hope that this Congress will be able to increase the involvement of the bumiputra in all sectors.

"The government and entrepreneurs should have the determination and commitment to realise all proposals and resolutions by having a concrete and comprehensive action plan," said Amar.

He added that to realise the aspirations of the Congress, it is important to continue to ensure stability, strengthen agreement, unity and cooperation among all communities in Malaysia.

"Only then will we be able to face the challenges in front of us with full strength and confidence and bring Malaysia forward," he said.

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