KUALA LUMPUR, March 25 – A report on “Unleashing the Potential of the Internet for Asean economies” revealed that the Internet has become more pervasive with the cost of not going online is only set to rise. Many countries in the Asean region still suffer from poor Internet coverage, low bandwidth and unaffordable access, said the authors of the report Internet Society (ISOC) and consulting and research firm TRPC in a statement issued today in Manila, the Philippines.
The Asean governments have made some progress in recent years through various e-government projects. However, Internet penetration across the region varies widely and the cost of digital divide is profound. The report was released during the ‘ISOC-TRPC Rethinking the Digital Economy’ forum in Manila. The report also identified the concrete steps necessary to unleash the potential of the Internet and transform the 10 Asean member economies (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam) into a highly competitive, single market and production base.
Against the backdrop of the Asean Economic Community (AEC), the report highlights that countries should look beyond basic connectivity and focus on the interconnectivity of the Internet. This will underpin the economic integration and social inclusion in the Asean region and usher in the digital economy. “The Asean region represents over 600 million people and is one of the fastest growing regions in the world, with a projected real average GDP growth rate of 5.4% per annum between 2014-2018. As a single entity, it would represent the seventh largest global economy.
“In order to take advantage of this economic power and realise AEC’s goals, the region will need to look beyond basic connectivity and focus on the interconnectivity of the Internet, which will underpin the economic integration and usher in the digital economy,” explained Rajnesh Singh, the Internet Society’s Regional Bureau Director for Asia Pacific in the same statement. – Bernama