Workers assemble parts for Infinix smartphones in Cikarang on March 3, 2018. (Antara Photo/Risky Andrianto)

A Digitally Connected Asean Calls for Multistakeholder Approach

BY :JAYANTY NADA SHOFA

DECEMBER 11, 2020

Jakarta. Asean calls for a multistakeholder approach to achieve a digitally connected region by 2025 as envisioned in the Master Plan on Asean Connectivity, or MPAC.

The MPAC blueprint targets seamless connectivity in five strategic areas, among which is digital innovation. This pillar encourages micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to join the digital ecosystem. It also promotes an open data network and a digital data governance framework within the region.

Aladdin D. Rillo, the deputy secretary-general for Asean Economic Community, said the digital connectivity under the MPAC could help boost the bloc's productivity and economic growth.

"Asean's digital integration will enable the region to generate $1 trillion in GDP by 2025. The connectivity would allow the region's digital economy to expand to 8.25 percent in GDP by 2025 from 1.3 percent in 2015. But it is important for Asean to be able to manage the different technologies to reap the digital dividends fully," Rillo told an online conference held by the Foreign Policy Community of Indonesia (FPCI) on Thursday.

"Digital transformation is also a cross-cutting issue as it affects every sector in the economy. This is why it requires a multistakeholder approach, including from the private sector," he said.

Rillo named two important areas in which the private sector can play a vital role, the first being data-sharing.

The private sector holds a lot of information to guide Asean in policy decisions and public service delivery. This data would help Asean address several issues in the region, including the Covid-19 pandemic, urbanization, environmental challenges, and the monitoring of Asean economic integration.

Rillo also encourages the private sector to provide digital solutions for supply chain monitoring and mapping, mainly because a resilient supply chain would help propel a strong economic recovery after the pandemic.

"The virus outbreak has disrupted our supply chain. The private sector's ability to invest in different technologies like artificial intelligence or big data analytics can map out and monitor supply chain resilience. This mapping helps us optimize the flows within the production functions across the different industries as well as the different processes in the supply chain," Rillo said.

"Once we achieve a resilient supply chain, it would help us recover from the pandemic. In Asean, digital trade is an important priority, and everything in the region depends on supply chain connectivity," he added.

Tech-Savvy MSMEs

Meanwhile, the MPAC also aims to support MSMEs in digital adoption. As for Indonesia, MSMEs are the national economy's backbone, accounting for 60 percent of the country's gross domestic product. In May, the government rolled out the Bangga Buatan Indonesia ('Proud of Indonesian Products') campaign, which encourages MSMEs to join online platforms to survive the pandemic.

Out of the 64 million MSMEs, only 8 million were already a part of the digital realm at the beginning of the pandemic.

Bangga Buatan Indonesia then targeted the online onboarding of two million additional MSMEs by the end of this year. The achieved number later surpassed the initial target thanks to the strong collaboration with the private sector, according to Oto Manuhutu, the Deputy Coordinating Minister for Tourism and Creative Economy at the Coordinating Ministry for Maritime Affairs and Investment.

"We reached the onboarding of 3.2 million additional MSMEs by last November. We now have around 11 million MSMEs that are using the digital platform. We are pushing for 30 million [MSMEs] next year," Oto said.

"But Bangga Buatan Indonesia is not a government only-driven activity. This is in cooperation with the e-commerce platforms, financial technology, and all private sectors. We can reach this number because we, as Indonesians, work together as one entity," he added.

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