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Cambodia’s Digital Transformation Future: Should We Expect to See More Changes?



Cambodia’s economic growth has skyrocketed in recent years through benefitting from preferential trade treatment and abundant low-skilled labor.

More recently though, its net internet users shot from 10.8 million to 12 million and nearly two million new Facebook accounts were created near the end of 2017 (WeAreSocial global report January 2019). The number of internet connections also spiked, with Cambodia experiencing 2 million net subscribers in 2018 alone.

This Increase was attributed to the expansion of mobile coverage areas by operators, more so through focusing on rural areas with limited access. The mobile network and coverage quality improved resulting in more people accessing 3G to 4.5G networks.

Well, most Cambodia residents can now afford mobile phones for surfing and voice calls, even the rural-based ones, due to the rise in standards of living being experienced in the country.

Apparently, it’s still in its process of expanding its internet coverage come 2020 and beyond and will achieve this only by spreading internet connections to engage more people residing in rural areas and other unexplored regions.

It’s worth acknowledging that Cambodia now understands the roles and the benefits of the digital processes in catalyzing its economic growth and hopes to fully incorporate technology in both its minor and significant economic operations generating its revenue.

Reasons?

Cambodia can’t continue being dependent on preferential trade treatment and donor financing-- these two economics fuels are bound to be outdated soon.

Luckily, stakeholders in Cambodia are aware of the key roles digitization plays in their economy, and it’s evident following the enactment of several policies championing for digital developments in the country.

The top priorities in Cambodia should now be expanding its technological infrastructure and nurturing local tech talents, which is part of its two different multi-development projects.

And compared to its neighbors like Thailand, Vietnam, and Lao, it has advanced in terms of digital transformation and is in the process of organizing more tech forums to embrace these new changes.

Companies Embracing Digital Transformation in Cambodia

Companies like Smart Axiata have made grand moves to support the digital transformation in Cambodia. They’ve already installed a base transceiver system in Chhnang province to widen the reach and speed of mobile internet services.

Notably, several workshops have been organized in Cambodia; an example being the “Startup Policy Hack.” The organizers have been doing rounds analyzing starts ups, medium-size, and large ventures listening to their complaints, concerns, challenges and to see how best they can channel their resources into assisting them.

Other workshops like, “Digital Transformation Workshop,” organized by National Institute of Post, ICT, and Telecommunications, focusing on artificial intelligence, cloud computing, and Big Data, have also been guiding Cambodian companies regarding efficient ways of providing and producing their services and this is the way to go!

I personally had the privilege of conducting several digital marketing workshops in Cambodia organized by CAM-ASEAN Institute in partnership with Asia Pacific Institute of Digital Marketing. These workshops were attended by some enthusiastic marketing professionals and entrepreneurs who are keen on transforming their businesses digitally.

It’s now evident that ICT integration is a key aspect that will boost Cambodia towards a digitized society.

Cambodia’s Digital Outlook
Though Cambodia’s digital system is small, the emergence of local tech startups is changing people’s lifestyles and how they do business. With more workshops being organized, expect to see several locals and experienced experts sharing knowledge to leverage businesses in Cambodia and beyond.

The workshops will create conversation platforms, boosting tech development in Cambodia and allowing its rich talent to shine and flourish.

I believe the World Bank is also behind Cambodia in recognizing global trends and embracing technology to boost sustainable growth and competitiveness through offering policy plans options like focusing more on digital education, infrastructure, and investment.

Expect to see Cambodia transform its digital economy in the coming five years but to do so; it needs an enabling regulatory environment and supportive digital assets.

So far, it’s making good progress in supporting ICT and building its digital infrastructure. And has bigger plans of developing a comprehensive digital economy to provide policies, visions, and coordination framework aimed at enhancing the investment and business environment of Cambodia.

Some barriers will also have to be removed before it fully benefits from its digitalization era. And this can be done through formulating detailed digital economy plans complementing digital investments and improving digital literacy more so in the local towns and rural areas to promote innovation and entrepreneurship

All the stakeholders have a role to play in Cambodia’s digital transformation; the government should focus on creating a favorable environment fostering digitization to encourage the adoption of relevant digital technologies.

Schools and non-governmental organizations must also play their part in providing training and education to the people of Cambodia to bridge its existing digital divide.

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