BUSAN, Oct 20 – The main challenge in growing the digital economy is no longer the infrastructure, but the development of a country’s workforce and its capability to maximise that infrastructure, said Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek. He made this point when addressing delegates from 52 countries at the 2014 Busan ICT (information communication technology) Ministerial Meeting in South Korea Monday.
He noted that the digital economy was changing the labour market, by creating new ICT jobs and at the same time changing the skill requirements of existing non-ICT jobs. “We realise that ICT penetration, infrastructure and financing are only a small part of the challenge that we face now. “Our main challenge is the re-engineering of our education system and the reskilling of our workforce so that they can continue to contribute to this new digital economy,” Ahmad Shabery told his audience at the Busan gathering.
He said the next step was how to learn from others on government intervention and regulation. He noted that the information communication technology (ICT) sector would contribute 17 per cent of Malaysia’s gross domestic product (GDP) by 2020, mainly in the areas of ICT services, e-commerce, ICT manufacturing, ICT trade as well as content and media.
The Busan ICT Ministerial Meeting was held ahead of the opening of the 19th International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Plenipotentiary Conference, under the theme of ‘The Future Role of ICTs – Sustainable Development with Inclusive ICT’. Noting that information was a tool to reduce uncertainty, Ahmad Shabery pointed out that in the hyperconnected world of today, there were still a lot of uncertainties around.
“We are subject to cyberthreats, sometimes in the form of attacks against our vulnerable networks. Sometimes we can see ICT being used for the purpose of destroying the social fabric or the act of non-state actors to destroy the legitimacy of the state,” he said. Ahmad Shabery believed that the meeting and other future platforms would provide guidance to all participants not only in terms of propelling economic growth but also avoiding possible negative impacts from the hyperconnected world provided by ICT.
Met after the meeting, he elaborated that Malaysia was not alone in facing the attendant challenges. Around the world, he said, governments, regulators and the industry were asking themselves hard questions on how to encourage and promote ICT growth, inclusiveness, sustainability innovation and security. “We’ll therefore continue with our efforts to bridge the digital divide, empowering our citizens and open new opportunities to raise the standard of living through ICT.
“But we’ll also focus on the development of our human capital, protect the sovereignty of our national infrastructure and ensure safe use of the technology,” said the minister who leads the Malaysian delegation at the 19th ITU Plenipotentiary Conference which started Monday. At the welcome dinner held in conjunction with the meeting, Malaysia was given the honour to speak on behalf of the 52 countries and offer the congratulatory message for the host.