Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, governments across the world are standing their ground in capitalising on digital technology to provide seamless transactions during the new normal despite safety restrictions. In line with these efforts, government agencies and even state-owned firms are rethinking their operation models to be more equipped in providing services to the citizen base.
This scenario is evident in Indonesia, where the government has early on committed to accelerating its digital transformation to boost public service and governance. In fact, according to an earlier report by OpenGov Asia, the Ministry of National Development Planning emphasised the role of information and communications technology to boost the country’s social capital index. This index is the measure of the whole population’s social stability and well-being.
Building on this commitment, Indonesia’s state-owned electricity company PT Perusahaan Listrik Negara (PLN) announced that it has formulated a new innovative strategy to provide services to households across the country. In a statement, the company said that consumers can easily apply for a COVID-19 electricity stimulus package through the PLN Mobile application.
The electricity firm ensured that they are distributing 450 volt-ampere (VA) and 900 VA subsidised electricity packages to 32 million household consumers. It added that this number excludes the 450 VA power packages to 459,000 business customers.
Postpaid customers under the 450 VA group are entitled to a 100% electricity discount while a 50% power subsidy is given to postpaid consumers under the 900 VA power segment. PLN’s Executive Vice President for Corporate Communication and CSR Agung Murdifi said: “postpaid customers will immediately reduce the cost of electricity bills. Then for 450 VA, prepaid tokens can be obtained through the method described. Meanwhile, for subsidised 900 VA household customers, a stimulus is received when purchasing electricity tokens.”.
The Executive Vice President added that they “see that the distribution process is running smoothly and customers have enjoyed the electricity stimulus.”
The state-owned firm emphasised that using the PLN app is easy and convenient during the new normal. The application can be downloaded via Playstore and App Store. Once downloaded, customers can register for the power subsidy by clicking on ‘PLN Cares for Covid-19’ under the Info and Promos tab. They will then be prompted to enter their Customer ID or their electricity meter number. A free token will appear which can be entered by customers in their meter reading to avail of discounts.
For those who have trouble accessing or downloading the PLN app, they can log on to the PLN website or send a message through WhatsApp. The company’s Executive Vice President stated that they have launched these additional services to provide as many alternative options to citizens who are in need of discounts on their electricity bills. He added: “PLN adds Channels through the PLN Mobile Application to make it easier because customers can just open the application on their cellphones, enter the Customer ID / Meter Number, and get the token number.”
The introduction of subsidised electricity is part of the government’s IDR 695.2 trillion (US$ 49.4 billion) stimulus package during the pandemic. This government effort aims to shore up the country’s economy which has taken a hit since the start of the COVID-19 crisis. Through this initiative, the government is also optimistic that the stimulus package will help maintain employment levels.
Since August last year, over 30 million households, businesses and industries have been seeing lower amounts in their electricity bills following the release of an IDR 15.4 trillion (US$ 1.09 billion) funding for power relief measures. This amount is on top of the IDR 54.79 trillion (US$ 3.89 billion) yearly electricity subsidies set aside by the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources.
The Internet infrastructure in the country is set to receive considerable investment in 2022 to meet users’ growing demands. The number of Internet subscriptions in Vietnam hit a record last year with nearly 71 million mobile broadband subscriptions and 18.8 million fixed ones. Respectively rising 4% and 14.6% from 2020. Internet users accounted for two-thirds of the population. Internet traffic also grew strongly, by over 40%, in 2021.
Telecom businesses stepped up developing broadband infrastructure. So far, the 5G network has been piloted in 16 provinces and cities, 4G covers 99.8% of the population, and cable Internet services reached 100% of communal-level localities. This is according to data from the Authority of Telecommunications, which runs under the Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC).
Although there has been steady growth, repeated breakdowns of undersea international cables greatly affected the domestic Internet quality. There are five undersea cable routes currently operating in Vietnam, namely AAG, SMW3, IA, APG, and AAE-1. Two others, SJC 2 and ADC, are scheduled to be put into use in 2022 and 2023. Meanwhile, other countries in the region have more routes such as Singapore (30), Malaysia (22), and Thailand (10). Compared to them, international infrastructure serving internet connection in Vietnam remains modest, a report stated. Experts believe that it is crucial to develop infrastructure for international Internet connection on par with regional countries.
Deputy Director of the Telecommunications Authority, Nguyen Phong Nha, stated that to improve broadband Internet quality, the government should focus on upgrading bandwidth and modem devices’ capacity, widening domestic and international bandwidth, and amending standards. Apart from investing in Internet infrastructure, telecoms services suppliers should also prepare backup plans. Developing digital infrastructure, including the Internet, telecoms, and cloud computing infrastructure, is set to be among the country’s top priorities between now and 2025. This will also create a big opportunity for service providers, infrastructure developers, and operators to compete equally with transnational enterprises in Vietnam.
The country had earlier set an ambitious target for the digital economy to account for 20% of the GDP by 2025. However, the Deputy Director of the Department of Enterprise Management, Nguyen Trong Duong, believes that with a breakthrough scenario, the Vietnamese digital economy could account for 26.2% of the GDP in the next three years. He stated that this will be possible if digital transformation and digital economy development are strongly deployed, accompanied by measures to ensure a market balance between domestic digital enterprises and foreign counterparts. The government would also formulate policies to support Vietnamese technology start-ups. 16% of the 26.2% would be from information communication technologies (ICTs), telecommunications, and the Internet economy.
At the beginning of the year, OpenGov Asia reported that the government aims to have ten technology firms with annual revenue of over US$1 billion by 2025. It plans to have 100,000 digital technology firms by 2025 and have at least ten firms compete in global markets. It also wants to have 10 localities with revenues of over US$1 billion from ICT and 10-12 IT zones. Last year, the total revenue of Vietnam’s ICT segment was estimated at an all-time high of VND3,462 trillion (US$151 billion), growing 9% year on year. The ICT segment alone contributes over US$136 billion to the sum, increasing by some US$11.5 billion from last year, according to MIC data.
OpenGov Asia attended MyFintech Week 2022 for the launch of the Financial Sector Blueprint for 2022 to 2026. In the opening statement, YB Senator Tengku Datuk Seri Utama Zafrul Aziz, Minister of Finance Malaysia talked about how the COVID-19 pandemic has profoundly changed various aspects, including the economy and technologies.
Spurred by COVID-19, technological advancements in the financial industry have also enabled consumers to enjoy digital solutions throughout the financial value chain. For example, in 2020, merchant registrations for QR acceptance increase 164% and online banking transaction volumes increase 49%, relative to pre-pandemic levels.
When it comes to the agenda of financial inclusivity, the government is aware that it is not just the availability of digital financial products that matter, but also access to those products. On that score, the digital inclusivity aspirations will remain unrealised without the appropriate infrastructure to support them. To that end, various measures under Budget 2022 will also pave the way for the rakyat and businesses to embrace digitalisation, and this policy is set to continue in future Budgets.
Under Budget 2022, measures include:
- 700 million ringgit allocation for our nationwide digital connectivity initiative, JENDELA;
- 0 billion ringgit under Bank Negara Malaysia’s SME Automation and Digitalisation Facility;
- 150 million ringgit for digital content creation for the creative industry;
- 200 million ringgit under the MSME Digitalisation Grant.
- MyDIGITAL Corporation has also been tasked to implement Malaysia’s Digital Blueprint with an emphasis on public sector digitalisation efforts and nurturing digital talent.
Moving forward, the Minister urges the financial sector to continue the inclusivity agenda while supporting the nation’s aspirations. As a key pillar of the economy, the financial sector will play a crucial role, with financial stability, inclusion, effective intermediation, digitalisation, and innovation being critical prerequisites moving forward.
Today’s launch of the Financial Sector Blueprint 2022 to 2026 will set the course for the development of the financial sector over the next five years. The strategies laid out in the Blueprint will be critical for the financial sector to navigate the oncoming challenges and opportunities – in turn, complementing the Twelfth Malaysia Plan.
There are also the upcoming entry of digital banks, digital insurers and takaful operators. Their impact to the development of the nation through the use of technology and the introduction of innovative financial solutions will improve the well-being of Malaysians, foster greater efficiency and contribute towards a more competitive financial landscape.
the pandemic has demonstrated the power and potential of finance to address the pressing problems of our time. The financial system has been resilient, with the ability to provide critical support to households and businesses during difficult times. Digital financial services like electronic payments have made it easy for people and businesses to continue making transactions in a low touch setting, with even greater ease.
The financial sector has also stepped up to provide various forms of relief to customers over the last two years, such as by giving borrowers breathing space and helping them get back on their feet while ensuring that depositors’ interests are not jeopardised. All this was made possible on account of efforts in recent decades to develop and strengthen the financial system
While producing the Blueprint has been a lot of hard work, the greater task is to turn its vision into reality. This requires everyone to work and think outside the box as the nation enters a new stage of development. The financial sector will continue to serve Malaysia well in the years ahead, doing its part to improve the well-being of people now and for the generations to come.
As reported by OpenGov Asia, Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC), Malaysia’s lead digital economy agency, recently announced the campaign updates on the Ministry of Finance-led Belanjawan 2021 Go eCommerce Onboarding and Shop Malaysia Online initiatives. As of October 2021, the campaigns successfully onboarded more than 500,000 businesses and generated well over 85 million transactions with a Gross Merchandise Value (GMV) worth over RM4.6 billion.
MDEC’s CEO stated that the agency is excited about the latest performance set by the Belanjawan 2021 Go eCommerce and Shop Malaysia Online campaigns. It serves as a clear testament that the incentives injected by the Government and participating partners onto eCommerce and ePayment partners have had their intended outcome of aiding economic recovery and we will continue to break targets set before the campaigns end on 31 December 2021.
The development of telecommunications infrastructure is one of the government’s missions for the Advanced Indonesia Cabinet so that no people are left behind in accessing internet services. Minister of Communications and Informatics Johnny G. Plate stated that one of the efforts to distribute telecommunication services was by deploying a 4G Base Transceiver Station (BTS) to serve people in the 3T (frontier, outermost and disadvantaged) areas.
We all want equality in telecommunications services in the era of digital transformation, the era of technological disruption, the era of the pandemic and the post-pandemic for the community to be well served. The motto and mission of the Ministry of Communication and Informatics is to serve the community through the use of technology so that no one is left behind.
– Johnny G. Plate, Minister of Communications and Informatics
Equitable internet access through the construction of 4G BTS can be done thanks to the financing commitment and strong political commitment from the government of Indonesia. With strong fiscal support, the disparity of Indonesia’s digital divide is getting narrower.
The Cooperation Contract for the Provision of Cellular Services in the 3T Region is one of the stages of carrying out the tasks of the Public Service Agency of the Telecommunications and Information Accessibility Agency (BLU BAKTI) of the Ministry of Communications and Informatics to build 9,113 BTS in the 3T region.
In addition, there are also challenges to security and public order or Kamtibmas where threats to both physical infrastructure and manpower are present and developing in the area. This is an extraordinary job with challenges, so these mandates must be carried out properly.
The development of digital infrastructure in all 3T areas in Indonesia which was built by BAKTI of the Ministry of Communication and Information is divided into two categories. For the first category, the Minister of Communication and Information stated that the construction includes 1,209 BTS which was built through the Universal Service Obligation scheme.
The second category, which is 7,904, is the object of today’s signing of a service agreement for the community, which is currently being carried out by two cellular operators through blended financing between the Universal Service Obligation.
The construction of 4G BTS, which continues to this day, has been supported by the hard work of all parties in carrying out their duties and roles to the fullest. The 4G BTS Cellular Service by BAKTI of the Ministry of Communication and Information can be enjoyed by the public through this cooperation scheme. BLU BAKTI Kominfo and two selected partners will collaborate with each other using their assets to produce integrated services.
As reported by OpenGov Asia, the Minister of Communications and Informatics Johnny G. Plate encourages everyone to continue to improve their quality of life in line with the projected number and types of new jobs due to technology adoption. It is projected that there will be 85 million old jobs that may be lost and 97 million new jobs that may appear, this is due to the division of labour between humans, machines and algorithms. The new jobs require a high level of digital skills and soft skills.
A report shows that in 2025 there will be 43% of industry players who reduce or reduce the number of workers as a consequence of the application of technology integration. Increasing digital skills and soft skills in line with technological developments for the workforce, especially the younger generation of Indonesia, can be done through upskilling and reskilling.
In addition, the Government has also carried out massive infrastructure development, especially in the first period of President Joko Widodo’s leadership. According to the Minister of Communication and Informatics, entering the current era of digital transformation, the development of digital infrastructure has been and is being accelerated by the Government and its partners and needs to be balanced with improving the quality of human resources.
Singapore has developed the latest innovations in defence tech and will focus on the future of this sector. The advancement of technology will inevitably have implications for defence tech. Autonomous vehicles, drones, and sensors will play a big role in future warfare and the Defence Science and Technology Agency (DSTA) is keeping a close eye on emerging areas such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Internet-of-Things (IoT), cybersecurity, and Cloud.
Assisting decision-making is one way that AI can be useful to the military. Algorithms can make sense of increasingly complex and large data, helping to recommend and predict possible next steps. It can also detect threats and unusual activity at a rapid pace. Working with commercial companies to develop tech for military applications is key.
– Loke Mun Kwong, Director, Advanced Systems, DSTA
The younger generation is the future therefore very important. Mervyn Tan, Chief Executive of DSTA conducted regular lectures to up-and-coming engineers at the Temasek Defence Systems Institute at the National University of Singapore. Imparting knowledge to a new generation of defence tech staff is how they can develop a stronger pipeline of talents.
While DSTA can source defence systems from external organisations, engineers do more than just buy off-the-shelves and deliver them to the military. It is key that the technology it buys can be integrated into a common network. This network of interconnected technologies provides greater capabilities than what the individual systems can do alone, meeting requirements that couldn’t be achieved otherwise.
This common network can be compared to a smart home, he explains. While a homeowner can have a virtual assistant device like Alexa, the device can be enhanced when it can control the TV, air conditioner, lights, and front gate. This turns multiple individual devices into a smart home system. But this process is easier said than done. Integrating large-scale systems can be challenging.
The pandemic revealed that DSTA has applications beyond defence. For example, DSTA engineers were able to develop a tech tool to help measure citizens’ temperatures across public spaces when the virus first hit Singapore. These teams were able to rapidly develop temperature self-check systems that are contact-free. This enabled citizens to measure their temperature quickly and conveniently.
The organisation has been investing in building skills across multiple areas for years, enabling it to develop valuable services when crises like COVID-19 strike. The organisation’s recent work has not all been related to COVID-19. DSTA has been helping to boost security at Changi Airport by upgrading its ability to detect and disrupt unauthorised drones in nearby airspace.
As reported by OpenGov Asia, The Defence Science and Technology Agency (DSTA) harnesses science and technology to enhance the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) capabilities. DSTA also contributes its multidisciplinary expertise in areas ranging from cybersecurity, systems engineering to procurement and protective technology, in support of national-level developments.
In the Simulation and Training Systems Hub (STSH), DSTA taps the latest technologies such as modelling and simulation, extended reality, data analytics and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to experiment and develop new training concepts and capabilities for the SAF.
Recently, One of DSTA’S projects is developing a command and control (C2) system to support the nation’s fight against COVID-19. Back in May 2020 at the peak of the pandemic, testing needs had to be ramped up quickly. Therefore, the Ministry of Health set up the Testing Operations Centre (TOC) to aggregate national testing demands and centrally manage the allocation of testing capacity.
DSTA is committed to its mission of providing technological and engineering support to meet Singapore’s defence and national security needs. Therefore, DSTA has a low operational risk appetite related to business continuity, safety and delivery of capabilities to partners, as well as incidents that affect the credibility to the public and the international community.
The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology and the India Cellular and Electronics Association (ICEA) recently released a five-year roadmap and vision document for the Indian electronics sector. The document, titled “$300 bn Sustainable Electronics Manufacturing & Exports by 2026”, is the second volume of a two-part report, the first of which, “Increasing India’s Electronics Exports and Share in GVCs”, was released in November 2021.
This second volume provides year-wise break-up and production projections for several products that are expected to lead India’s transformation into a US$ 300 billion electronics manufacturing powerhouse, from the current US$ 75 billion. Key products that may drive growth in the sector include mobile phones, IT hardware, consumer electronics, industrial electronics, auto electronics, electronic components, LED lighting, strategic electronics, PCBA, wearables, and telecom equipment. Mobile manufacturing, which could cross US$100 billion annual productions (up from the current US$30 billion), is expected to constitute nearly 40% of the growth.
The domestic market is expected to increase from US$65 billion to US$180 billion over the next five years. This will make electronics amongst India’s top-ranking exports by 2026. Of the US$300 billion, exports are expected to increase from the current US$15 billion to US$120 billion by 2026.
The Minister of State Electronics and Information Technology, Rajeev Chandrasekhar, said the Ministry is focusing on broadening and deepening the electronics industry in line with the Prime Minister’s statement at the recent World Economic Forum, where he claimed that India is emerging as a reliable and trusted partner in value chains.
The Minister explained that the second phase of the mission aims to reach new markets and customers and become a player in the global value chain (GVC). According to him, the goals and detailed strategy is the result of hours of deep engagement between government and industry. The numbers in the document confirm that there is a real opportunity in the electronics sector, driven by the growth of digital consumption and the growth and diversification of GVCs.
As per a press release, the five-part strategy to reach the US$300 billion target, based on an “all of the government” approach, particularly focuses on strengthening electronics manufacturing in India. This will be achieved by building competitiveness and scale by attracting global electronics manufacturers/brands; shifting and developing sub-assemblies and the component ecosystem; building a design ecosystem; nurturing Indian entrepreneurs; and gradually reducing cost disabilities.
The multi-billion target comes on the back of the government’s US$10 billion Production Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme to boost the semiconductor and display ecosystem. The government has committed nearly US$17 billion over the next six years across four PLI schemes: semiconductor and design, smartphones, IT hardware, and components. The vision document emphasises the importance that key role Indian champions will play in addition to global companies, both of whom are already part of the PLI schemes. The report seeks a competitive tariff structure on electronic components and the removal of all regulatory uncertainty. It recommends a ‘winner-takes-all’ strategy backed by economies of scale and global competitiveness, new and revised incentive schemes for some sectors, and the need to address issues of sustainability and ease of doing business.
The Hong Kong Applied Science and Technology Research Institute (ASTRI) recently announced several development plans that are aimed at aligning ASTRI with the vision of developing the Greater Bay Area (GBA) into an international innovation and technology (I&T) hub, as outlined in the 14th Five-Year Plan.
The Chief Executive Officer of ASTRI announced the plans; that agency will be undertaking more R&D projects in the GBA, cooperate with local universities and research institutes, attract and cultivate I&T talent, and expand its R&D resources in the GBA. In addition, ASTRI is looking to attract students from renowned universities overseas to take part in its internship programme and start their careers at ASTRI.
ASTRI’s CEO stated that the agency has an excellent R&D team who have mastered cutting-edge technologies in various fields. Moreover, they are looking to further leverage the advantages of the GBA, which include its rich resources and its huge market for technology applications, as well as input from R&D professionals from the mainland and the rest of the world.
These are advantages that will enable ASTRI to make more I&T breakthroughs and have an even greater social impact while supporting the 14th Five-Year Plan and contributing to the development of Hong Kong and the country, he said.
Since taking up the post in October last year, ASTRI’s CEO has worked closely with his team to formulate plans and commence preparation work for expanding ASTRI’s I&T footprint in the GBA. The new development strategies include:
- Expanding activities in the mainland
ASTRI will expand its activities in the mainland and is considering establishing a presence in the Shenzhen Branch of the Hong Kong Science Park in Futian and the Lok Ma Chau Loop, as a way of strengthening its collaboration with the ecosystem stakeholders and industry partners.
- Cooperating with local universities
ASTRI will seek to cooperate with key universities in the GBA, as well as with the mainland campuses and research institutes of Hong Kong universities in the area.
ASTRI is currently negotiating with the School of Microelectronics of the Southern University of Science and Technology in Shenzhen on establishing a joint laboratory. The lab, which should be established in the next few months, will research leading technologies such as advanced semiconductors, 5G communications, and intelligent manufacturing.
- Developing R&D projects
ASTRI will develop more R&D projects in the GBA to boost technology transfer through Government-Industry-University-Research cooperation. In the first stage, priority will be given to R&D projects in integrated circuits and communications technology, and subsequently to projects in IoT and Sensors, FinTech, artificial intelligence and big data.
- Expanding R&D resources
ASTRI will apply for R&D funding available to applicants from the mainland, Hong Kong and Macau that is offered by the state or by provincial and municipal governments, as well as for funding available in the GBA area (e.g., the research matching grant scheme provided by the Futian government). ASTRI will also continue to strengthen its collaborations with enterprise clients to expand its R&D resources.
- Attracting and cultivating talent
To expand its mainland team, ASTRI will conduct recruitment in the mainland and offer Hong Kong-based employees the opportunity to transfer to its mainland headquarters. Meanwhile, to nurture international-quality talent, ASTRI will engage postgraduate students in the GBA to participate in R&D by cooperating with universities and research institutes in the area.
ASTRI is also approaching several world-renowned universities to promote job opportunities at ASTRI to their students. These opportunities include ASTRI’s Summer Internship Programme for undergraduates, its newly launched Fintech Future Leaders Academy internship programme, and job positions for bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree graduates.
The Defense Information Systems Agency is planning to release a “container as a service” product in the coming months that will help synchronise the Defense Department’s many cloud environments. The project aims to make data centres central to the Defense Department’s hybrid cloud environment by using commercial containers. The hybrid approach sometimes “raises an eyebrow” but there were a lot of benefits to a container-based approach.
A server is a server. So it is possible to do that on-premises. And where that becomes super powerful is when you have an on-prem container in the data centres, you have containers in the cloud. And now the nexus between the two is substantially easier and more standardised than it would have been previously
the container-as-a-service shift setup, which includes data centre personnel and those who came from the legacy Cloud Computing Program Office, could help develop new skill sets for the existing workforce. A minimum viable product of the service is expected this year.
One of the concepts is to take on both sides – both people that understand how to administer environments in the cloud, as well as people that understand how to administer environments in a traditional data centre – and create some overlap of experience and skillsets so that have a more organic cross-functional workforce.
The approach not only builds new skills for existing workers, which could help with retention but it also makes the agency more adaptable to changing mission needs. 2022 is a key year for DISA’s updated strategic approach to simplify and modernise the Defense Department’s IT infrastructure with more enterprise services and enhance cybersecurity.
Technology solutions, such as the cloud-based internet isolation (CBII) browser, that emerged from the pandemic response are now foundational to DISA’s strategy, which aims to provide a framework for what and how the agency acquires products and services in the coming years. CBII was DISA’s first taste of a successful other transaction authority acquisition that moved to production this year as it rolled out a tool that helps protect DOD’s network from cyber vulnerabilities that come from web-browsing.
In addition to cyber, the document also stresses the need for modernised infrastructure, including a plan to stand up a capability to improve endpoint security through user activity monitoring for Fourth Estate organisations in fiscal 2021.DISA is also working on “an infrastructure technical refresh” for its unclassified (NIPRnet) and secret (SIPRnet) networks in 2021 to improve computing abilities.
As reported by OpenGov Asia, A report titled “Government Cloud Platforms 2021–2022 RadarView” evaluated 15 providers based on product maturity, enterprise adaptability and future readiness. The report identifies four trends that are shaping the market. The first is the increasing compliance needs that are accelerating the shift to the cloud. The cloud helps agencies address sensitive workloads, such as those involving health care data while complying with requirements.
State and local governments are increasingly adopting cloud to lower IT and licensing costs. Cloud can help city councils manage and organise resources and foster communication and collaboration. It can help them securely store, analyse and process sensitive economic data, and they can more easily capture and process data from the internet of things and edge computing.
The second trend is the emergence of tailored cloud regions for communities such as defence and intelligence. Such regions can address the level of sensitive data that these communities work with, and these users can look to these isolated cloud resources to deploy workloads securely and compliantly.
The third trend is the fact that convergence with emerging technologies is driving change. Fourth, government cloud providers are expanding their influence by growing into new regions and helping the public sector shift to cloud while maintaining data governance and sovereignty. Moves toward modernisation, smart cities and a digital economy are driving governments to upgrade their IT infrastructure and cloud is the best way to ensure that data is securely and readily available.