Originally published in Advancing ASEAN in the Digital Age Book, 14 November 2017.
ASEAN’s Digital Future
ASEAN, with its predominantly young and techsavvy population, is projected to benefit immensely from the digital economy. The use of mobile devices and social media in ASEAN is among the highest in the world. Studies have shown that digital technologies in ASEAN could potentially be worth up to US$625 billion by 2030 (representing 8 percent of ASEAN projected GDP for that year), through its impact on increasing efficiency, productivity and economic value creation. Furthermore, the ASEAN Economic Community Blueprint 2025 emphasises that digital technology is one of its most important elements due to its potential to motivate trade and investment, good governance and further the use of green technology.
The digital economy is principally a knowledge-based economy requiring specific skill sets, which currently are still much sought after in many ASEAN Member States. Yet, at the same time, all sectors of economy are steadily adopting and embedding Information and Communications Technology (ICT), bringing about surges of growth and innovation. In this regard, the ASEAN ICT Masterplan (2016-2020) is focused on facilitating these transformations to propel ASEAN towards a digitally-enabled economy, which is secure, sustainable, and transformative; and to enable an innovative, inclusive and integrated ASEAN Community.
ASEAN Member States are also cognizant of other challenges they face in optimizing the potentials of the digital economy, including the high costs of entering the ASEAN market, limitations in infrastructure and overbearing red-tape. ASEAN is responding by investing heavily in improving infrastructure, such as introducing newer broadband technology to ensure faster and more seamless connectivity; and also undertaking efforts to eliminate the digital divide between Member States. Micro, small and medium enterprises are encouraged to participate in this economy and the generation of more ideas to lead ICT and nextgeneration applications. ASEAN is also working with Dialogue Partners to create a conducive ICT environment by combatting cyber-crime and enhancing human capacity.
Information digitalisation, through advances in ICT, contributes significantly to ASEAN Community building. It has the power to promote people-topeople connectivity more than any other means, which is invaluable in strengthening the ASEAN Identity. It is not only a reality of today, but is also an exciting future for tomorrow.
This article is the Foreword of the publication.
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About H.E. Le Luong Minh
H.E. Le Luong Minh has been the Secretary-General of ASEAN since January 2013. Mr. Minh has had a long career in Viet Nam’s diplomatic service which began in 1975. Before assuming his post as ASEAN Secretary-General, Mr. Minh was Viet Nam’s Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs.
H.E. Le Luong Minh studied Diplomacy at the University of Foreign Affairs in Hanoi, then Linguistics and English Literature at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.