Image credit: Internet Society (from Global Internet Report 2017)
The Internet Society (ISOC) released its Global Internet Report 2017, entitled “Paths to our Digital Future.” ISOC is a global non-profit, established in 1992 and is dedicated to ensuring the open development, evolution and use of the Internet.
The 2017 report examines the potential future Internet over the next five to seven years, identifying six drivers of change: 1) The (convergence between) Internet & the Physical World; 2) Artificial Intelligence (AI); 3) Cyber Threats; 4) The Internet Economy; 5) Networks, Standards & Interoperability and 6) the Role of Government. The report looks at the impact of these drivers on digital divides, personal freedom and rights, as well as media and society.
The Global Internet Report was developed through research carried out by the Internet Society and its global community over an 18- month period beginning in 2016. Three global surveys, two regional surveys and ten roundtables were conducted in addition to interviews of more than 130 Internet experts representing government, academia, international organizations, businesses and Non-Governmental Organizations.
We spoke to Mr. Rajnesh Singh, Regional Director of the Asia-Pacific Regional Bureau of ISOC for a pre-release briefing. He said, “It’s very difficult to predict the future. But what we wanted to do was get some opinions from thought leaders, people in senior government positions, people from industry, civil society, academia etc. around the world. There were people from 160 countries involved in the process.”
Many of the thoughts expressed in the report illustrate a strong, commonly-held belief in the potential of the Internet to continue to bring positive change to people’s lives, with benefits delivered across education, health, economic prosperity and social change.
However, there are also wide-ranging fears that the Internet may be viewed and used differently in future. For example, there are concerns that efforts will be made to restrict Internet freedoms through centralisation, mass surveillance and fragmentation. There are worries that the media landscape will become more difficult to navigate and that separating fact from fiction will become ever harder. Some are also worried about the threat of new divides and how these will not only deepen existing disparities between countries, but also across society as a whole.
The report notes that with the convergence of the digital and physical worlds and the deployment of the Internet of Things (IoT), services will become more efficient and data driven, providing new ways for us to interact with the world around us. However, increased security threats and device vulnerabilities, as well as incompatible standards and a lack of interoperable systems, could undermine the technology’s promise. Appropriate safeguards and deliberate efforts to ensure transparency and user control are required to ensure that IOT driven data collection does not further undermine privacy.
Similarly, AI promises new transformative opportunities, ranging from new services and breakthroughs in science, to the augmentation of human intelligence and its convergence with the digital world. But concerns have been raised about its unfettered development without appropriate human-centred safeguards. AI also raises serious considerations related to privacy, transparency, safety, the nature of work and jobs, and the overall economy. For example, facial recognition based on AI can improve user experience over a social media platform. But the same technologies can be used to improve surveillance and compromise anonymity. Or, if AI becomes a permanent feature in social media networks and online platforms, where algorithms are used to curate the online experience, questions about free choice and bias will intensify.
The report says that ethical considerations must be prioritised in the design and deployment of AI technologies and humans must remain in the “driver’s seat”.
The report states that the hyper connected Internet economy will see traditional industries morphing, emerging economies thriving and new market leaders from around the globe driving innovation and entrepreneurship. But it is not clear at the moment whether this technology-driven disruption will favour the existing Internet platforms or bring greater competition and entrepreneurship.
As the physical and digital worlds continue to converge and AI and IoT increase our dependence on the network, the severity of security challenges and vulnerabilities grows in parallel. Simultaneously, the continued success of the Internet as a driver for economic and social innovation is tied to how we respond to these threats. Insufficient attention and inadequate response to cyber threats will undermine trust in the Internet. New accountability, incentive and liability models may need to be considered to encourage greater engagement from stakeholders and ensure human safety.
At the same time, the report takes note of the latest incarnation of the old supposed dichotomy between security and freedom. It highlights the risk of the ‘securitisation’ of the Internet, and our digital lives, curtailing online freedoms and global connectivity. Given the growing pressure from cyberthreats and national security challenges such as terrorism, open societies and freedoms and rights could become subordinate to pervasive surveillance regimes facilitated by AI and IoT. Moreover, as global Internet platforms are used to deliberately spread disinformation, users will lose trust in the Internet.
Governments are under increasing political, economic and social pressure to respond to cyber threats, terrorism and violent behaviour online. The report cautions that measures that may be intended to secure cyberspace will increasingly undermine personal freedoms and rights and that without a change of course, personal freedoms and rights online may well be nearing a point of irreversible decline.
Mr. Singh said, “The main reason why the Internet has been so successful is because it is open, people have been allowed to be creative on it. Innovation has been allowed to flourish.” But there is the global trend of Internet shutdowns. A lot of governments are now taking action from the point of view that the Internet is a threat. Either in terms of civil disturbances or national security threats in terms of the infrastructure that runs on it. The approach seems to be let’s shut down the Internet first and then let’s fix the problem. If you want everything to be digital and pushing for a digital economy, there’s a disconnect there. Governments, policy makers need to realise that there are issues with it but let’s try to deal with them, rather than doing a wholesale segmentation of the Internet or just shutting it down, which is counterproductive.
Cyber threats are also leading to a new form of digital divide, between the security ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’. Users who lack the skills, knowledge and resources to protect themselves and their data will be far more likely to become victims of cybercrime. Addressing this digital security divide will be critical to realising the full potential of the future Internet.
Mr. Rajnesh Singh explained, “In a country with a higher disposable income you can pay 10 dollars a month to get a security subscription, say a VPN to secure yourself when using public Wi-Fi. But 10 dollars per month in a less developed country would be a significant expense. The other aspect is just the basic understanding about the need for security while using a public wi-fi. An average person on the street might not even know what a VPN is.”
Another important development is the evolution of networks, standards and interoperability and the architecture of the Internet. A proliferation of connected systems and mobile devices will result in ubiquitous connectivity requiring greater bandwidth and interoperability. The network edge will become more complex with large numbers and types of devices connecting to multiple new services, such as IoT. And the nature of transit will change with the increasing use of CDNs (A content delivery network is a large distributed system of servers deployed in multiple data centres across the Internet, serving content to end-users with high availability and high performance), caching and other specialised services that flatten the network hierarchy.
This may put pressure on the general-purpose Internet and its ability to support competition, and on-going evolution and innovation. Additionally, developers are increasingly relying on proprietary standards which will be a barrier to innovation and interoperability. Open standards development will need to evolve to ensure standards are still relevant in a world of competing proprietary systems.
In view of all of the above, governments will be faced with a host of new and complex issues that will challenge all aspects of their decision making. The report notes that their responses to these challenges will impact not only freedoms and rights and the economy, but also the Internet itself. In addition to the challenges related to balancing security and personal rights, privacy and freedom of expression mentioned above, populist trends around the world could undermine decades of interconnected policy goals in ways that could fragment the core architecture of the Internet and undermine its global promise.
Mr. Singh said that the worse-case scenario could be the creation of Internet boundaries in line with physical geographical boundaries. It is technically hard to do because the Internet is borderless by design. But China built the Great Firewall.
The report recommends a multi-stakeholder process for tackling these complex issues and says that for such efforts to work and to have
legitimacy, they will need to move beyond traditional public-private partnerships and include civil society. It says that governments could also become more attuned to the need for cross-border and cross-sector cooperation on cyber-threats like crime and terrorism. But at the same time, it sees a tension between multi-stakeholder and multi-lateral processes. (In a multistakeholder processes, individuals and organisations (stakeholders) from different realms participate to share ideas or develop consensus policy. In multilateral systems, several countries/governments work together to solve a particular problem or reach a shared goal.)
The report outlines key recommendations businesses, advocacy organizations, governments and other stakeholders to consider as part of their Internet related decision-making:
- Human values must drive technical development and use
- Apply human rights online as well as offline
- Put users’ interests first with respect to their own data
- Act now to close digital divides
- Make the Internet economy work for everyone
- Take a collaborative approach to security
- Increase accountability for data handlers
- Build strong, secure, resilient networks
- Address the need for online social norms
- Empower people to shape their own future
Read the complete report here.
The Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) is spearheading an initiative to propel the nation’s capabilities in healthcare, Industry 4.0-driven manufacturing, and supply chain and logistics through the transformative power of 5G. This groundbreaking endeavour, known as the S$30 million 5G Innovation Programme, is not just a step forward but a giant leap into a future where innovation reshapes industries.
Launched in 2021, the 5G Innovation Programme is a testament to Singapore’s commitment to embracing emerging technologies. IMDA has forged strategic partnerships with key enterprises, including the National University Health System (NUHS).
In the healthcare industry, Singapore’s forward-thinking tech innovators, in collaboration with NUHS, have harnessed 5G to revolutionise patient care. The introduction of Mixed Reality-based Holomedicine in operating theatres stands out as a groundbreaking achievement.
This innovative approach not only enhances patient care but also redefines the entire healthcare experience. Announced in 2022, the initiative marks the Asia Pacific’s inaugural deployment of indoor private Enterprise 5G mobile edge computing (MEC) for Mixed Reality and Holomedicine capabilities in health tech.
A significant stride in healthcare also involves a collaboration with Republic Power to deploy 5G-enabled unmanned medical booths. These “Medbots” represent Asia’s first 5G-enabled unmanned pre-screening and teleconsultation medical booths. Equipped with state-of-the-art hygiene and safety systems, these booths support remote health screening and video consultations, offering an enhanced user experience that aligns with the demands of a digital era.
The impact of 5G extends beyond healthcare, permeating the realms of Industry 4.0-driven manufacturing, supply chain, and logistics. Collaborations with ST Engineering and DB Schenker have given rise to groundbreaking applications.
For instance, Singapore’s first 5G-enabled Digital Twin has been implemented for a logistics and supply chain company transforming warehouse and manufacturing operations, quality control, and customer experience. Simultaneously, ST Engineering’s 5G-Enabled Industry 4.0 Smart Factory boasts one of Singapore’s first 5G-enabled collaborative robots, revolutionising manufacturing processes.
Dr Ong Chen Hui, Assistant Chief Executive of the Biztech Group at IMDA, emphasised the agency’s commitment to architecting Singapore’s digital future. The goal is to build capabilities in various sectors powered by emerging technologies like 5G. IMDA’s collaboration with forward-looking companies signifies a concerted effort to unlock the full spectrum of benefits that 5G offers across a wide range of sectors.
As Singapore propels itself into the future, the 5G Innovation Programme stands as a testament to the nation’s dedication to progress. The partnerships with key enterprises underscore a collective effort to reshape, redefine, and transform industries across the country.
Singapore is not merely embracing change; it is pioneering a future where technology catalyses innovation and progress. The journey has just begun, and Singapore is at the forefront, shaping the narrative of a technologically advanced and future-ready nation.
The comprehensive initiative serves as a catalyst, propelling Singapore into a new era of digital prowess. It is not merely an adoption of advanced technologies; rather, it is a strategic alignment with the needs of the future, recognising the pivotal role technology plays in shaping economic landscapes on a global scale.
The 5G Innovation Programme signifies Singapore’s commitment to sustainable economic growth. By embracing technology as a driver of progress, Singapore is not just securing its current standing; it is laying the foundation for a resilient and forward-thinking economy. The emphasis on sustainability in this digital transformation ensures that growth is not just rapid but also enduring, with an eye towards environmental and social responsibility.
The implementation of a National Digital Identity (Digital ID) system in Malaysia is poised to revolutionise the verification and distribution of aid during crises or natural disasters, ensuring swift and precise assistance to those in need.
According to the Chairman of the Malaysian Cyber Consumer Association (MCCA), Digital ID has the potential to streamline processes, reducing bureaucratic hurdles and optimising the impact of government subsidies by facilitating the efficient distribution of assistance to targeted groups with greater accuracy and effectiveness.
Digital ID, in this context, serves as a digital means of self-identification and authentication for individuals, designed for use in both public and private sectors to verify user identities during online transactions. The nation’s Prime Minister has conveyed that while the government will not mandate registration for Digital ID presently, civil servants are encouraged to do so, especially as the Rahmah Cash Aid (STR) and other targeted subsidies will be channelled through this system. MIMOS Berhad, Malaysia’s national Applied Research and Development Centre, has been appointed as the implementing agency for Digital ID, with an initial allocation of RM80 million.
The Former Principal Assistant Director at Bukit Aman emphasised the significance of Digital ID in enhancing cybersecurity. The technology relies on digital certificates to bolster security in online transactions, verifying identities by linking cryptographic keys with their owners through cryptography.
Despite its potential benefits, the Former Principal Ass
istant Director pointed out a critical concern: the possibility of Digital ID being exploited as a ‘mule ID’ by third parties for fraudulent or illegal activities. He stressed the need for the government to establish robust security measures to prevent misuse, safeguard the system’s integrity, and maintain public trust in the initiative.
Addressing potential concerns about the misuse of Digital ID, the Former Principal Assistant Director called for a thorough examination of security measures. The government’s commitment to preventing fraudulent activities and illegal exploitation is crucial for the success of Digital ID. The Former Principal Assistant Director’s experience in cybercrime and multimedia investigations underscored the importance of maintaining the integrity of the system.
Furthermore, the Former Principal Assistant Director highlighted the need for comprehensive digital education to ensure that all segments of society benefit fully from Digital ID. A focus on digital education can prevent digital divides and contribute to the long-term success of Malaysia’s digitalisation initiatives. By promoting digital literacy, the government can empower citizens to use Digital ID responsibly and stay informed about potential risks.
In conclusion, the implementation of Digital ID in Malaysia represents a significant step toward modernising and securing online transactions. While the technology holds great potential for enhancing the distribution of aid during crises, it is imperative for the government to address security concerns and invest in digital education to ensure the successful adoption of Digital ID across all segments of society.
The advent of Digital ID in Malaysia represents a pivotal moment in the nation’s journey toward a more efficient and secure identity verification system. The Malaysian Cyber Consumer Association’s unwavering support underscores the potential benefits of this technological advancement for the wellbeing of Malaysians. However, as the implementation progresses, the emphasis on system integrity, cybersecurity, and public trust becomes paramount.
The call for robust security measures and consistency resonates as a crucial safeguard against potential misuse, ensuring that Digital ID serves as a reliable tool for streamlined aid distribution and government subsidies. As the nation navigates this transformative phase, it is imperative to strike a balance between technological innovation and the preservation of public confidence to fully realise the positive impact of Digital ID on the Malaysian society.
The National Education Policy (NEP) of 2020 has ushered in a new era for education in India, advocating for a robust investment in digital infrastructure and technological tools. At its core, the policy emphasises the integration of technology into the educational landscape, embracing online teaching platforms, virtual labs, digital repositories, and assessments.
NEP’s visionary approach highlights the pivotal role of multilingualism and language in transforming teaching and learning methodologies. Para 4.23 of the NEP stresses the acquisition of essential skills, including digital literacy, coding, and computational thinking. These competencies are being actively promoted through a myriad of digital initiatives.
The PM e-VIDYA, launched under the Atma Nirbhar Bharat Abhiyaan in May 2020, aims to consolidate efforts in digital, online, and broadcast education, ensuring widespread access to education through multiple modes. Notably, PM eVidya is accessible to students across all states, free of cost, democratising educational resources.
The cornerstone components of PM eVidya encompass DIKSHA, serving as the nation’s digital repository for high-quality e-content tailored for school education across States/UTs. The integration of QR-coded Energised Textbooks, providing a unified platform for all grades, resonates with the ethos of ‘one nation, one digital platform’.
Expanding the horizons of education further, the initiative has scaled up from 12 to 200 PM e-VIDYA DTH TV Channels, enabling states to offer supplementary education in various Indian languages for classes 1-12. Leveraging radio and podcast platforms like Shiksha Vani, PM eVidya embraces a holistic approach to inclusive education, crafting specialised e-content for the visually and hearing impaired.
Driving the agenda of critical thinking and creativity, PM eVidya ambitiously aims to establish 750 virtual labs and 75 Skilling e-labs by 2023. These labs, designed for Science, Mathematics, and simulated learning environments, seek to foster hands-on learning experiences. The creation of a dedicated vertical on Virtual Labs within the DIKSHA platform and comprehensive training via PM eVidya DTH TV channels for educators underscore the commitment to capacity-building.
Moreover, the ICT and Digital initiatives within the centrally sponsored scheme of Samagra Shiksha extend support to Government and Aided schools, focusing on classes VI to XII. Financial aid facilitates the establishment of ICT Labs and Smart Classrooms, enhancing the technological infrastructure within educational institutions.
India is committed to deploying locally designed and made digital tools, platforms and solutions to better serve citizens, more comprehensively and inclusively.
OpenGov Asia reported on India Stack, a set of domestically created digital solutions implemented nationwide. It includes APIs and digital public assets that enable the widespread use of digital identity, data, and payments as fundamental economic elements. Key components include Unified Payments Interface (India’s instant payments system), Aadhaar (the government’s digital identity card), and DigiLocker (a secure document access platform on a public cloud).
India Stack enhances access to and the delivery of public services, with the overarching goals of achieving widespread connectivity, promoting digital inclusion, and ensuring seamless access to public services. Built on open technologies, these solutions are interoperable and crafted to encourage active participation from industry and community stakeholders, thereby fostering innovation.
Addressing the needs of students preparing for competitive exams nationwide, the development of the SATHEE portal in collaboration with IIT Kanpur stands as a testament to India’s dedication to empowering its youth.
The ongoing beta version is actively soliciting feedback from students across the country, aligning with a culture of continual improvement. It provides a comprehensive suite of resources tailored for NEET (National Eligibility cum Entrance Test) and JEE (Joint Entrance Examination) aspirants.
These initiatives mark a significant stride towards a tech-driven educational ecosystem in India. As the nation embraces this digital revolution in education, it sets a precedent for inclusive and innovative learning paradigms.
Based on a study conducted in 2018, the Head of the Satellite Division of the Accessibility to Communication and Information Agency (BAKTI) of the Ministry of Communication and Information, Sri Sanggrama Aradea, stated that based, there is a need for internet access to 1Mbps for 150,000 public service points in the fields of education, healthcare, and government in remote, frontier, and outermost (3T) areas.
The Ministry of Communication and Information continues to uphold its commitment to implementing the agenda of equalising the progress of digital transformation across the entire archipelago of Indonesia. This commitment is realised by continuing the contract for Base Transceiver Station (BTS) 4G services, especially for Remote, Frontier, and Outermost (3T) regions.
This action signifies the seriousness of the Ministry in ensuring that the benefits of digital transformation progress are not only felt in major cities but also extend to remote and outermost areas of Indonesia. Continuing the BTS 4G contract for 3T focuses on equalising access and strengthening communication networks, ensuring that communities in previously connectivity-limited areas can enjoy the benefits of the digital revolution.
Minister of Communication and Information Budi Arie Setiadi emphasised, “Strengthening communication networks is the main focus, ensuring that communities in areas that may have been previously limited in connectivity can benefit from the digital revolution.”
Minister Budi Arie Setiadi stated that this aligns with President Joko Widodo’s directive during the handover of the Ministry’s Budget Execution Plan for the Fiscal Year 2024, emphasising that the utilisation of government budget allocations must be focused on results. Minister Budi Arie explained that the signed Operation & Maintenance Contract is intended to continue the operation of the already-built BTS 4G, which has become an asset of the Telecommunication and Information Accessibility Agency (BAKTI).
Arwoto Atmosutarno, Chairman of the Task Force of the BAKTI at the Ministry of Communication and Information, admits that completing the BTS 4G Project is challenging. The diverse topography of Indonesia and its often remote geographical locations create complexities that increase the difficulty in executing this project.
In overcoming these challenges, Atmosutarno highlighted the importance of collaborative and synergistic coordination among Task Force members, involving entities such as the Attorney General’s Office, Ministry of Finance, Supreme Audit Agency (BPKP), Procurement Policy Agency (LKPP), Ministry of Communication and Information, and various related industry stakeholders. This joint effort aims to overcome various obstacles and challenges from complicated geographical conditions.
This indicates that project completion requires technical expertise and active involvement from various sectors contributing to addressing Indonesia’s unique and complex landscapes. Although the task is not easy, the determination and good cooperation among Task Force members ensure the efficiency of the project, even in challenging geographical conditions.
Indonesia is indeed known as an archipelagic country with quite extreme topography. This poses significant challenges for communication networks, especially telecommunication infrastructure projects such as BTS 4G. With widely scattered islands, high mountains, and remote areas that are difficult to access, establishing a network that can cover the entire Indonesian territory requires meticulous planning and execution.
Based on data from the Central Statistics Agency (BPS), the number of internet users in Indonesia reached 292.3 million in 2022, equivalent to 77.02% of the total population. This figure increased by 2.6% from the previous year.
The increase in Internet access is driven by various factors, including economic growth, increased smartphone penetration, and government programmes to equalise Internet access.
Regarding telecommunication infrastructure development, the government aims to achieve 100% 4G network coverage by 2024. This target seems achievable, as in 2023, 4G network coverage in Indonesia has reached 98%.
The progress of telecommunication network development in Indonesia has brought various benefits to the community, including: Improving accessibility to information and communication, Facilitating economic transactions, Enhancing the quality of education and healthcare and Increasing the nation’s competitiveness.
Chengdu has placed its sights on catalysing digital transformation to connect with the dynamic landscape of scientific and technological innovation. With this, the Municipal Development and Reform Commission recently organised a major scheduling meeting for the Digital Transformation Promotion Centre, bringing together key participants in the province’s digital progress.
The recently held meeting convened influential figures from 19 provincial-level digital transformation promotion centres, district and county development and reform departments, and pivotal enterprises within the city. The goal was to enhance the city’s digital transformation promotion service capabilities and fast-track the realisation of a modern industrial system.
The proceedings unfolded with a comprehensive report from the High Technology Department of the Municipal Development and Reform Commission, shedding light on the progress of the city’s digital transformation promotion centre and unveiling the initial evaluation results.
The exchange of ideas extended beyond city borders, with experts from the Sichuan Provincial Digital Economy Development Centre offering insights, interpretation, and guidance on policies supporting the digital transformation initiative.
Highlighting the diverse facets of digital transformation, representatives from various sectors shared their experiences. These exchanges delved into the construction nuances of supporting, regional, and industry-specific digital transformation promotion centres, emphasising a multifaceted approach to catalysing change.
Concrete examples from food technology elucidated the transformative power of digitalisation in their respective industries, showcasing the tangible benefits accrued through embracing cutting-edge technologies. From enhanced processing efficiency in aviation equipment manufacturing to streamlined collaboration in biopharmaceutical production, the ripple effects of digital transformation were tangible.
Chengdu’s strategic position as a hub node in the computing power network has been pivotal in propelling the city’s digital drives. The initiative to construct a ‘smart Chengdu’ serves as the cornerstone for iterative upgrades and the demonstration of emerging technologies, products, business formats, and models. This concerted effort aims to foster innovative development within the digital economy.
The city’s proactive stance has yielded approval for 19 provincial-level digital transformation promotion centres. This includes 10 support centres, 2 regional centres, and 7 industry centres, collectively constituting over 50% of the total number in the province. The coverage extends across strategic areas like Tianfu New District and key industrial chains such as electronic information, equipment manufacturing, and medicine and health.
Success stories were brought to the forefront during the meeting, showcasing the tangible impact of digital transformation. For instance, the Chengdu Aircraft Digital Transformation Promotion Centre has significantly boosted the processing efficiency of the aviation equipment industry chain. Similarly, the Kelun Pharmaceutical Digital Transformation Promotion Centre has facilitated intelligent collaboration in biopharmaceutical production, reducing costs and optimising inventory turnover.
The initiatives underscored the imperative to align with national, provincial, and municipal mandates for deepening the integration of the digital economy with the real economy. A call to action resonated, urging a focus on the high-level construction of Sichuan Provincial Digital Transformation Promotion Centres.
Likewise, the emphasis on harnessing the transformative potential of computing power, algorithms, and data highlights Chengdu’s unwavering commitment to catalysing industry-wide development. The city recognises the pivotal role that advanced computing capabilities, sophisticated algorithms, and insightful data analytics play in propelling industries forward.
By leveraging robust computing power, industries in Chengdu can not only streamline their operations but also enhance their overall efficiency. This translates into faster processing times, heightened accuracy, and the ability to handle complex tasks with unprecedented precision.
The infusion of advanced algorithms further augments this initiative by introducing intelligent decision-making processes that adapt and evolve, ensuring that industries remain agile in dynamic market landscapes.
Hong Kong, a dynamic global financial centre and a historical node for the Chinese diaspora, stands as a vibrant hub for tech and trade. Hong Kong’s start-up ecosystem is thriving. In 2022, the number of start-ups in Hong Kong grew by 6% to 3,985, employing nearly 15,000 people.
Hong Kong’s innovation and technology sector together with that of Shenzhen and Guangzhou – the Shenzhen-Hong Kong-Guangzhou science and technology cluster – ranks as the world’s second performing according to the Global Innovation Index 2023.
Biotechnology, artificial intelligence, smart city and financial technologies were identified as the four key areas for Hong Kong’s innovation and technology industry. The city’s expenditure in absolute amount on research and development has almost doubled compared to a decade ago.
With opportunities brought by the Guangdong‑Hong Kong‑Macao Greater Bay Area development, Hong Kong is set to further capitalise on its advantages in R&D capabilities, technological infrastructure, legal system and intellectual property.
The region intends to spearhead the I&T industry and act as a business platform for companies looking to access the Asia market (and China in particular), or for innovative mainland companies seeking to go international.
There is a sharp focus on pivotal tech-driven sectors – healthcare, youth development, and the Greater Bay Area (GBA) – that have the potential to shape Hong Kong’s business trajectory. From cutting-edge healthcare advancements to fostering youth entrepreneurship and capitalising on the economic powerhouse that is the GBA, the pathways for innovation and collaboration will be determined.
Its pivotal role in the global business landscape is further accentuated by the Federation of Hong Kong Business Associations Worldwide (FHKBAW), a sprawling network uniting 47 associations across 36 countries and regions. With a membership boasting nearly 11,000 executives and professionals worldwide, this federation serves as a linchpin for a diverse global business community.
An annual Hong Kong Forum, jointly organised by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council and the Federation, emerges as a pivotal event drawing in business leaders and tech innovators. Scheduled for 5th and 6th December, the 24th iteration promises an inspiring convergence of minds, ideas, and opportunities.
Sessions will explore the intricacies of navigating Hong Kong’s ever-evolving business landscape. Experts will elaborate on Hong Kong’s prowess as a global business platform and delve into how cultural exchange through the West Kowloon Cultural District could further elevate Hong Kong’s global cultural imprint.
As tech, innovation, and global business intertwine, Hong Kong is a testament to its unwavering commitment to fostering collaboration, innovation, and growth across industries that define the future.
The startup ecosystem is rapidly expanding and diversifying, stretching beyond conventional hubs like San Francisco and London to embrace emerging powerhouses like Hong Kong. Simultaneously, within the ASEAN region, burgeoning economies are evolving into significant nodes of innovation and entrepreneurship in their own right.
Acknowledging the borderless nature of the digital entrepreneurial landscape, the Hong Kong Trade Development Council unveiled Start-up Express International last year. This global iteration of its longstanding local entrepreneurship development programme acknowledges and taps into the interconnectedness of the worldwide startup community.
Hong Kong has launched multiple initiatives in line with its goal to expand its digital economy and propel technological advancements. Cyberport is Hong Kong’s digital technology flagship and incubator for entrepreneurship with over 2,000 members including over 900 onsite and close to 1,100 offsite start-ups and technology companies.
With a vision to become Hong Kong’s digital technology hub and stimulate a fresh economic impetus, Cyberport is dedicated to cultivating a dynamic tech environment.
This commitment involves nurturing talent, encouraging youth entrepreneurship, aiding start-ups, fostering industry growth through strategic partnerships with local and international entities, and driving digital transformation across public and private sectors, bridging new and traditional economies.
The game industry in Vietnam has emerged as a promising domain, yet it grapples with hurdles demanding immediate attention to unlock its full potential. In an era where global gaming numbers surged to nearly 3.2 billion players, generating a massive US$182.9 billion in 2022, Vietnam aims to solidify its stance in this evolving landscape.
Vu Quoc Huy, Director of the Vietnam National Innovation Centre (NIC), identifies the game industry as a pivotal sector crucial for the nation’s scientific, technological, and innovative growth trajectory. With an annual revenue surpassing US$500 million and a strong foothold as Southeast Asia’s fifth-largest revenue generator, Vietnam’s gaming landscape thrives. Over 50% of the population engages in gaming for entertainment purposes, signalling a robust market demand.
Huy underscores the industry’s capacity to foster high-value jobs in programming and design, presenting an opportunity to propel Vietnam’s global position within value chains. The country currently ranks second in game downloads within Southeast Asia, witnessing a steady annual growth rate of approximately 10%. Globally, Vietnam clinches a position among the top 10 for download numbers and the top 30 for revenue generation.
The country boasts a talented pool of programmers capable of creating games meeting the stringent standards for Google and Apple stores. Apple estimates approximately 180,000 Vietnamese are actively engaged in mobile app development, with the game industry housing the majority.
The Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) emphasises Vietnam’s rank as the seventh-largest global mobile game distributor, attributing Vietnamese developers to nearly half of the world’s renowned games. Yet, there’s a push to increase the industry’s revenue from US$600 million to a lofty US$1 billion within the next five years.
Vietnam’s game industry, with its remarkable growth trajectory and burgeoning talent pool, stands at the cusp of a transformative phase. Despite this burgeoning success, challenges persist. Addressing hurdles in infrastructure, market expansion, and skill development will be pivotal to realising its immense potential and securing a formidable position in the global gaming arena.
At the fore, Vietnam’s game industry grapples with entrenched social stigmas and a host of structural deficiencies that hinder its growth. The prevailing societal bias against gaming, perceiving it as addictive, detrimental, and resource-intensive, casts a shadow over the industry’s prospects.
Le Quang Tu Do, Director of the MIC’s Authority of Broadcasting and Electronic Information, highlights critical issues, including policy inadequacies, limited financial support, and a dearth of local game competitiveness in the global market. Moreover, the absence of a robust ecosystem and collaborative efforts among businesses stifles the industry’s progress, hindering the discovery of high-quality Vietnamese games by distributors.
A significant obstacle lies in the shortage of skilled human resources, with estimates suggesting a need for up to 30,000 qualified personnel in the game industry. To transform the industry into a robust and competitive landscape, Vu Quoc Huy, NIC Director, advises cultivating an internationally adept workforce and fostering a cohesive ecosystem where stakeholders collaborate and uplift each other.
Others advocate official recognition of the game industry as an economic sector and a pivotal driver of the digital economy. Acknowledging the need for an appropriate management strategy and development roadmap underscores the necessity of societal and governmental acknowledgement to attract foreign investment and solidify the industry’s position.
The MIC has outlined a developmental roadmap spanning 2022 to 2027, centring on addressing critical issues such as policy frameworks, market regulation, and manpower development. Initiatives encompass facilitating partnerships between domestic developers and international counterparts, alongside efforts to entice foreign investment entities into Vietnam’s burgeoning gaming sector.
As the MIC steers the developmental trajectory and industry stakeholders converge to address these challenges, Vietnam’s game industry holds the promise of a transformative evolution towards global competitiveness and economic significance.