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PETALING JAYA: For Malaysia to achieve its digital economy aspirations laid out in the Malaysia Digital Economy Blueprint, it needs to modernise the information and communications technology (ICT) infrastructure as well as developing qualified talent for the sector, according to Huawei Technologies Malaysia.

Its CEO Michael Yuan elaborated that the talent needed is not limited to engineers but also research & development, among others.

“The third component is a healthy ecosystem, as the digital economy is made up of infrastructure, platforms, self services and digital transformation that would change a lot of industry hence the need for a transparent and attractive ecosystem,” he said at the Huawei-KSI Strategic Institute for Asia Pacific’s Digital Leadership Webinar today.

These three are the important pillars for a digital economy.

In regard to talent development, Yuan pointed out that the Chinese tech giant has collaborated with 30 universities to set up an ICT academy to provide training in artificial intelligence (AI), cloud computing and big data for tertiary students and professional engineers. With talent development, he believes Malaysia is on the right path.

For infrastructure, it has collaborated with Telekom Malaysia to develop a data centre in Malaysia.

With such first-hand experience, he noticed that data centres in the country have strong amenities and a good platform, inviting professionals to lend their insight on big data especially in the tier 4 data centres or national data centres.

In this segment, Yuan is confident that Malaysia has the potential to compete with Singapore to house data centre hubs of international companies in the region.

“The country is suitable for housing such facilities as it consumes huge amounts of water and electricity. There is also sufficient talent.”

In terms of cost, he stated that it is much lower than the island republic. However, some of the policies are not attractive and there is also a lack of transparency that needs to be addressed to attract such opportunities.

As for ICT connectivity, he believes the local telcos are professional and more than competent.

“To make this industry prosperous, there is a need to open up the system to competition instead of allowing a monopoly, in terms of infrastructure and centralisation, among others.”

Overall, Yuan stressed the importance of the entire ecosystem, both upstream and downstream.

“From where I come from as an ICT infrastructure solution provider, without SMEs and the innovative solutions from the downstream sector, the infrastructure is nothing.”

On competing with Singapore in the segment, KSI senior executive director Datuk Wei Chuan Beng pointed out that submarine fiber optic cables from around the world are terminated and connected there, providing it with an advantage in housing such facilities.

“Should Malaysia open up the landing station to allow these submarine cables, it should have a greater advantage given ample spaces and the low-cost green power.”

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