Enabling ASEAN’s digital masterplan

BrandPost By Jeffery Liu, President, Huawei Asia Pacific
Jul 06, 2021
Digital Transformation

The next five years could see the region make giant strides toward becoming a digital society.

jef liu
Credit: Huawei

As one of the most populous and diverse regions in the world, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations is set to become a top five digital economy by 2025. ASEAN’s digital ambition has been put forth in the ASEAN Digital Masterplan 2025, which promotes “ASEAN as a leading digital community and economic bloc, powered by secure and transformative digital services, technologies, and ecosystem.”  This and similar imperatives will propel ASEAN to the forefront of a globally competitive digital landscape contributing as much as $1 trillion dollars to the region’s GDP in 10 years.

With accelerated adoption of Internet access and a diverse landscape of cloud services, ASEAN has great potential to become a digitally enabled vibrant society, providing business, policymakers, and regulators a conducive framework for digital transformation. A promising outcome would see a society where digital services are accessible throughout daily lives, and improved productivity and connectedness turbocharge business. This would in turn position ASEAN as a digital service hub with fast and frictionless trade between member states and more readily able to shake off the hangover from COVID-19.

COVID-19 brought many challenges and accelerated the industrial digital transformation, profoundly impacting the digital economy and our lives. In ASEAN, Huawei has cooperated with governments and more than 40 carriers to provide critical ongoing communication services to 900 million subscribers, 20 million families, and hundreds of thousands of enterprises. In addition, we have been providing digital services through the combination of connectivity and cloud to accelerate economic recovery via our Huawei Cloud and uLearning platforms, the latter offering free online digital education for millions of students and educators.

For healthcare, Huawei’s 5G smart healthcare solution at Siriraj, the largest hospital in Thailand, enables remote consultation, intelligent medical image analysis, and autonomous medical vehicles to provide more convenient patient care. This solution eases the workload of doctors, minimizes contact between medical staff and patients, and greatly reduces the risk of cross-infection. In 2020, Huawei Thailand received the prestigious Prime Minister Award as “Digital International Company of the Year,” acknowledging Huawei Thailand for its valuable support and outstanding contributions to Thailand’s digital transformation.

With more than 22 years of cooperation across ASEAN, we are committed to bringing the digital world to every person, home, and organization to build a fully connected, intelligent ASEAN, and in alignment with the ASEAN Digital Masterplan 2025, we would like to further our regional support in three key areas:

Innovative ICT infrastructure

Resonating with the desired outcomes of ADM 2025, connectivity and cloud are the foundation of the digital economy and ASEAN’s future as a digital hub. This means infrastructure must be upgraded with higher data rates and improved coverage into rural areas to enable people to participate in the digital economy, and digital services must be delivered in a resilient and secure fashion to connect business and better facilitate cross-border trade.

To date, cloud penetration in the region is less than 20%, LTE penetration is slightly above half, and FBB reaches barely one-third of households, leaving millions of families without access to digital services. This means there is a great opportunity to collaborate more in digital infrastructure, connectivity, and cloud computing. 

Every year, Huawei invests more than 10% of sales revenue into R&D, and we are willing to collaborate more to bridge the digital divide and provide ubiquitous connectivity and pervasive intelligence to the ASEAN region.

Inclusive talent ecosystem cultivation

Talent is the cornerstone of economic recovery and a long-lasting digital future. With a large and youthful population increasingly equipped with digital skills, ASEAN has an opportunity to join the vanguard of the global digital revolution.

Since 2019, Huawei has been working with local governments, universities, and industry organizations to cultivate digital talent through programs such as Huawei ASEAN Academy. This program, already launched in Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia, has trained more than 100,000 ICT talents. In the next five years, Huawei ASEAN Academy will be expanded to more countries and train more than 300,000 local talents to empower ASEAN’s digital economy development.

To build a better local ecosystem and promote the development of the ICT industry, Huawei has set up OpenLabs, a solution incubation and development cooperation platform for ecosystem partners, in Singapore and Thailand.

To enable the 5G ecosystem, in 2020 Huawei built a 5G ecosystem innovation center with Thailand’s Digital Economy Promotion Agency. This serves as a base for industry 5G application innovation and development and is expected to help incubate 100 local SMEs and startups in the next three years.

Last year we launched our Spark Program to develop the startup ecosystem by providing cloud computing, financial support, and talent training for tech startups in the region. Going forward, we will launch and promote our Spark program in more countries in ASEAN.

Green and sustainable development

Potential climate change has a significant regional impact with six of the 20 most vulnerable countries in the world being ASEAN member states.

Globally, we need a green industrial revolution with the goal of carbon neutrality. As the digital economy grows, we must lead the green revolution by developing innovative digital energy services to use energy as efficiently and effectively as possible. We will increase our investment and cooperation within ASEAN to minimize the carbon footprint of ICT infrastructure by leveraging clean power generation, electric transportation, and smart energy storage. Green sustainable development must be a global concern and requires unified technical standards.  Huawei will work with ASEAN to promote unified industry standards.

The next five years could see the ASEAN region make giant strides towards becoming a digital society, and the transformation will enable member states to recover faster from the pandemic. Ultimately, Huawei, together with ASEAN partners, will focus on green and secure infrastructure and talent development to realize the ASEAN Digital Master Plan 2025 and create new value for the leading digital community and economic bloc.