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Malaysia is proactively pursuing a digital transformation journey that is revolutionizing the country's economic landscape and digital economy. Driven by a steadfast dedication to innovation, Malaysia has utilized new technologies to move forward into digitalization.

The world may have experienced a few economic setbacks due to the global pandemic, but Malaysia was able to withstand the challenges due to its early adoption of technology and innovative business models. Additionally, the country’s geographical location in Southeast Asia has helped its strategies. Complemented by abundant natural resources, and a skilled workforce, Malaysia has become a regional powerhouse in the digital era.

Digital Revolution Journey

In 2021, Malaysia launched its Digital Economy Blueprint, and the Digital Investment Office was established. This has served as one of the foundations of Malaysia’s rapidly rising digital economy. The nation's dedication to establishing itself as a major player in the global digital scene was evident in the USD 15.7 billion investment it received during the third quarter of 2022.

Malaysia’s ICT sector has grown consistently, becoming the third-largest contributor of the country’s GDP— and is expected to contribute at least 25.5% of Malaysia's GDP by 2025.

Initiatives Accelerating Malaysia’s Digital Transformation

The Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) is one of the key agencies responsible in the country's persistent pursuit of digital transformation to achieve world-class quality infrastructure and connectivity.  Increasing Malaysia's digital capabilities and establishing Malaysia as the digital hub of ASEAN are the two primary objectives of this initiative.

Malaysia has also made substantial investments in their digital infrastructure as part of the country’s digital transformation strategy. With the goal of improving broadband connectivity and bridging the digital divide, the National Fiberization and Connectivity Plan (NFCP) has been an essential component in the country’s digitalization. In 2022, Malaysia reportedly accomplished a number of key milestones, including the provision of high-speed internet to more than 90% of the country's population.

One noteworthy example of this revolution is the deployment of 5G technology in the country. Malaysia was able to adopt 5G technology rapidly, improving its communication networks— which was further accelerated through a partnership between the government and private sector (such as Telekom Malaysia and Maxis). Quicker 5G speeds are expected to facilitate new opportunities in the development of smart cities and IoT applications, while further advancing other industries in the country.

Additionally, the Malaysian government has been championing the Malaysia Digital initiative, with the goal of accelerating the growth of Malaysia's digital ecosystem across nine key sectors, which include, digital agriculture, digital services, digital cities, digital health, digital finance, digital trade, digital content, digital tourism and Islamic digital economy. These sectors have been recognized as growth powerhouses, holding immense potential that could propel Malaysia's digital transformation.

MDEC has developed strategies specifically for the individual needs of each area in order to achieve the country’s digital goals. The interventions include the PEMANGKIN program, along with capacity building programs, regulatory and policy dialogs, and networking events.

Currently, the PEMANGKIN program serves as a catalyst, promoting digital skills, supporting technological innovation, and attracting investments. There are also ten tech enablers that support the Malaysia Digital initiative, which includes AI and big data analytics, cloud and data centers, cybersecurity, drone tech, IoT, robotics and automation.

Out of these tech enablers, MDEC has placed emphasis on critical technologies such as Web3, AI, blockchain, 5G-Advanced networks and cybersecurity. This dedication is exemplified by the PEMANGKIN IP360 Metaverse initiative under the Web3 category and is responsible for moving Malaysia into the realm of digital content ecosystems and metaverse experiences. These projects showcase Malaysia's technological capabilities and promotes the formation of partnerships as well as the development of digital assets and immersive experiences.

A Place for Innovation

In order to cultivate an environment conducive to innovation and entrepreneurialism, Malaysia has made substantial investments in the development of thriving ecosystems that provide assistance to businesses and digital enterprises, such as the Cyberjaya— which is considered to be the ‘Silicon Valley’ of Malaysia. This has become the epicenter of innovation, hosting research institutions, tech companies, and startups within its vicinity.

Malaysia’s digital transformation is an inspirational tale of a country that adapted to change in order to ensure its survival in the digital age. The country has, so far, showcased its commitment to becoming one of the pioneering ICT leaders in Southeast Asia, through initiatives and programs that aim to improve infrastructure, nurture innovation, and address challenges.

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