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Thursday, 19 January 2017

(The Edge) Digital economy hitting 20% of GDP by 2020 easily achievable, says expert

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s target for the digital economy to make up 20% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) by 2020 is easily achievable, according to an expert.

“The digital economy currently contributes 16.8% to the GDP and the government aims for it to reach 20% of the GDP by 2020,” said Microsoft Malaysia’s director of legal, corporate and government affairs Jasmine Begum.

Commenting on the country’s present digital economy, she said that Malaysia “will easily exceed those numbers”.

She added that millennials, who were born into a digital environment, will drive the growth of digital economy. “You have a generation of people who click and buy. It’s a swipe economy.”

Begum was part of a panel discussion yesterday at the launch of The Digital Economy and the Free Flow of Data report conducted by trade association the US-Asean Business Council, and audit and consulting firm Deloitte.

The report calls for Asean governments to embark on digital-economy growth together as a region instead of individual countries, making the region more attractive for foreign direct investments. The Asean region is the world’s third largest in number of mobile subscribers, behind China, India and the US.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak in October last year announced that 2017 is Malaysia’s “Year of Digital Economy”, and initiatives to create digital hubs to encourage start-ups and train data scientists will be the government’s main focuses.

Begum noted that the millennial generation will not only drive digital economy as consumers but also as entrepreneurs.

“The young graduates that are coming out are into the notion of start-ups. And start-ups by nature do not just go local.

They innovate, they want to go abroad. That shift in mindset will drive the contribution to the digital economy,” Begum concluded.