The digital economy is on track to contribute 18 per cent to Malaysia’s gross domestic product (GDP) this year, said Malaysia Digital Economy Corp (MDEC) chief executive officer Datuk Yasmin Mahmood. “The target of the 11th Malaysia Plan is to have an 18 per cent contribution from the digital economy by 2020. It is on track and in the right direction,” she told NST Business recently.
Datuk Yasmin said last year, all four pillars under the Championing Malaysia’s Digital Economy Agenda — driving investments, building local tech champions, catalysing digital innovation ecosystems and digital inclusivity — achieved commendable performance.
On driving investments, measured by the performance of MSC Malaysia companies, MDEC recorded new investments totalling RM16.3 billion last year, up from RM4.57 billion in 2015. Of this sum, RM6.43 billion was from new investors. She said the RM9.84 billion from existing investors was also a promising figure despite the challenging economic landscape.
“We are very proud of last year’s achievement. Our strategy to lead the digital economy is paying off and we have seen a positive, healthy year from MSC-status companies, with record new investments.”
While remaining cautious on developments in the United States economy, Datuk Yasmin said MDEC was optimistic about the prospects of new foreign direct investments this year. She said while the US was still a potential strong FDI contributor to the information technology sector in Malaysia, MDEC was expanding its focus to the United Kingdom, Europe and Japan.
On building local tech champions, Datuk Yasmin said last year was the first full-year of the global acceleration innovation network (GAIN) programme, where MDEC identified local technology companies with the potential to become global icons. “We have some really good progress in that respect as well,” she said, adding that some of the companies were already in the global market but needed to move to the next level.
“We have to make sure that by 2020 and beyond, we have companies that have one billion (ringgit) in revenue, as a measure of their success,” said Yasmin.
Among the companies showing progress under the GAIN programme is Forest Interactive Sdn Bhd, which has secured a significant contract with a major telecommunications company in the US. Other success stories include iflix, which Yasmin dubbed as “the hottest start-up in the region”, and IX Telecom Sdn Bhd, which doubled its revenue last year from the previous year.
The final pillar, digital inclusivity, is MDEC’s initiative to boost people’s income in rural areas through eRezeki and eUsahawan.
Under eRezeki, 50,618 people have been trained to date, earning a total income of RM16.4 million. Under eUsahawan, 51,203 entrepreneurs were trained, with RM42.8 million in total income earned.
“When we came up with eRezeki and eUsahawan programmes last year, the response was tremendous.
“We are so pleased with the way the participants, especially young people from rural areas, embraced the programmes.”
Yasmin said MDEC believed that through these two programmes, it was creating a movement of digital inclusivity.
“We want to continue this momentum because, for sure, this is going to have a huge impact on the communities,” she added.