OECD, ASEAN to work on accelerating region’s digital transformation
09 Feb 2022
The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and ASEAN inked a memorandum of understanding (MoU) aimed to accelerate the region’s digital transformation by better managing some of the associated and growing risks, challenges and disruptions.
The MoU was signed in conjunction with the Ministerial Conference on the OECD Southeast Asia Regional Programme (SEARP) in Seoul, South Korea, which was held in hybrid format on Wednesday (Feb 9).
Through the MoU, OECD and ASEAN will assess the connectivity divides in Southeast Asia to facilitate improvements in the quality of broadband services across the region.
According to the OECD Secretary General Mathias Cormann, during the pre-pandemic era, Southeast Asia was one of the fastest growing digital economies with the number of digital consumers growing from 90 million in 2015 to 250 million in 2018.
It increased further to 300 million digital consumers in 2020, turbocharged by the Covid-19 related lockdown.
Nevertheless, he noted that uptake, penetration and infrastructure in communication and information technology remained uneven across and within countries in Southeast Asia.
“Broadband for example remains more accessible and faster in urban environments than in rural and remote areas,” he said.
Building a digital future would require a coordinated whole of government approach, he said adding that this would also include investing in communication infrastructure and digital skills to narrow existing digital divides among people, regions and businesses.
He stressed the importance of investing in digital skills which will ensure everyone has the best possible opportunity to participate in and benefit from the digital economy.