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Govt urged to prioritise development of digital economy

The government needs to put the digital economy firmly on its agenda to speed up the development of this global initiative, according to a senior official at the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications.
Speaking at the ministry’s annual meeting at the beginning of this month, Director General of the Lao National Internet Centre, Mr Keovisouk Solaphom, said the challenges faced in digitising the economy are due to the fact that it has not been listed in the development agenda.
He advised the government to pay more attention to creating a digital economy, adding that countries such as China, Indonesia, South Korea and Thailand are studying the concept of a 4.0 economy in line with the German model.
Malaysia is one Asean member that is working towards a digital economy. “Since 2012, this country has invested a large amount of money into the expansion of IT infrastructure and providing an enabling environment for the growth of the digital economy,” Mr Keovisouk said.
Building a digital economy is essential as the world is moving towards a digital economic age, having passed through the industrial ages of 1.0, 2.0 and 3.0. The current industrial age is 4.0, he added.
The industrial age 1.0 began in 1784, with heated water pressure driving power. The industrial age 2.0 began in 1870, with mass production at the centre of the industrial concept. The third industrial age started in 1960 with the use of automatic robots as a key part of industries. The industrial age 4.0 is currently dominant, with ICT being the driver of industrial growth.
Mr Keovisouk said many countries have entered industrial age 4.0 with the development of big data, Artificial Intelligence (AI), cloud computing, the internet of things, and cyber security.
He said it is possible to speed up the development of the digital economy in Laos thanks to supporting legislation, adding that the National Assembly has approved a draft law on electronic signatures.
Approval of this law would provide a solid foundation for the development of the digital economy in Laos.
Laos has also passed a number of laws relating to internet services. This includes laws on electronic information protection, computer crimes and telecommunications.
The Lao National Internet Centre plans to develop various policies, such as a digital transformation master plan and a digital government policy.
Referring to technological support and internet usage in Laos, Mr Keovisouk said the number of mobile phone subscribers had reached about 8 million, accounting for 120 percent of the total population. Meanwhile, the number of internet users is about 3.2 million, accounting for 47 percent of the population.
It is expected that the number of internet users will continue to increase as telecoms operators are competing for a larger market share. Internet services in Laos are expected to become cheaper as the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications plans to regulate the business.

By Ekaphone Phouthonesy
(Latest Update April 22, 2019)

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