Rafizi: KL to become regional hub for digital industry and start-ups
29 May 2023
The government plans to make Kuala Lumpur a regional hub for start-up companies and the digital industry in an effort to boost the country’s digital economic activities.
Economy Minister Rafizi Ramli said the digital economy is one of the three high-value strategic sectors and is capable of stimulating investment and offering high-paying jobs to the people that the ministry is focusing on in the restructuring of the national economy.
“Apart from boosting existing industries such as semi-conductors, manufacturing, oil and gas, and commodities to the higher value chain level with a focus on the process of higher value downstreaming, the three strategic sectors that the Economy Ministry is focusing on are energy transition towards renewable energy, digital economy and food security,” he said in a statement here.
Therefore, he said, the ministry is currently collaborating with other ministries involved in the digital economy ecosystem, namely the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation; Ministry of Communications and Digital; and the Ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry to boost the country’s digital economy.
He said the collaboration was necessary to coordinate the public support system implemented through various agencies towards an integrated approach (single window approach) to improve the digital ecosystem.
“This will increase the number and performance of start-ups as well as accelerate the transition of the private sector to the digital economy,” he said.
He added that the cooperation with the involved ministries also aims to start the development of concepts and coordination of functions between government agencies towards the implementation of the digital government (govtech) which produces integrated data-based and digital public service products (single window’s govtech).
“One key step to achieve these two targets is to increase the attractiveness of Kuala Lumpur as a centre for start-up companies and the regional digital industry to attract investment and digital talent to the country.
“It requires aggressive policy changes that cover various areas, including the consolidation of the efforts of government agencies, a more efficient and open work visa process, more attractive digital incentives and the production of workforce in the digital industry on a national scale,” he said.
According to Rafizi, while attending the Qatar Economic Forum recently, he had the opportunity to discuss with Jack Selby who was the earliest employee of PayPal along with the founding group of the company such as Elon Musk, Peter Thiel and Reid Hoffman.
“This group of PayPal founders became the main force that moved the digital industry from the Silicon Valley through their involvement in well-known digital companies including Tesla, SpaceX, Youtube, Facebook, LinkedIn and OpenAI,” he explained.
Rafizi said Selby, who is now the managing director of Thiel Capital and the originator of the Arizona Technology Innovation Summit, also expressed interest in helping Malaysia develop Kuala Lumpur as a regional centre for start-ups and the digital industry.
“I was interested in partnering with him in the digital field because of his efforts to develop Arizona as a new centre for startups outside of Silicon Valley and after a career in Silicon Valley, he returned to his home state of Arizona and developed Arizona as a new centre for startups, which has now succeeded in attracting start-up companies.
“His expertise will help the country formulate policies that are more friendly to start-up companies and create collaboration networking in the digital field that will boost Kuala Lumpur’s name as the main destination for the digital industry in the region,” he said.
He said specific policies and initiatives will be announced in stages in the move to make Kuala Lumpur an attraction for regional start-ups.