Malaysia needs to scale up the infrastructure to increase personal computer (PC) penetration and Internet usage by launching the WiMax spectrum now, and needs to reinvent itself as a true digital nation to increase its competitiveness at the global level.
Intel Electronics (M) Sdn Bhd country manager Debjani Ghosh said the government must also provide better quality broadband connection at homes, more options for broadband suppliers and keep the access rates very low, drive more online transactions and accelerate e-Govt initiatives.
“The govt has to seriously implement e-village to allow the people in the rural areas to benefit from ICT technology,” she told The Edge FinancialDaily in an e-mail reply.
She said while the Ninth Malaysia Plan (9MP) had strong focus on ICT development and funding, it lacked details of implementation programmes.
“The government should have a national ICT development blueprint to drive strategies and plans. Critical to the success of any plan is its execution, and we would like to see a speedier implementation of the policies and programmes outlined,” she said.
Ghosh explained that a majority of PC users were concentrated in the Klang Valley, Penang, Johor Bahru and Kota Kinabalu, and generally there were more users in the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia.
She said there was an opportunity to increase the penetration rate in the east coast areas with appropriate infrastructure like broadband services and WiMax while enhancing the services in the urban areas.
“Given that the current PC penetration (in Malaysia) is about 20%, we need compelling policies and programmes to drive the rate up to 40% — a goal as outlined in the 9th Malaysia plan.”
“PC pricing itself is not a strong enough motivator. We need more locally relevant content that will drive users to understand the benefits of owning a PC and initiatives to take the PC to consumers beyond the top cities” she said.
On financing such efforts, Ghosh said information from the 9MP and Budget 2007 seemed to indicate that the government had sufficient funds but the main issue was the efficiency and effectiveness of the implementation.
“This is the current issue being raised by all sectors of the community to the government.”
“However, the government should continue to provide resources to support computer-literacy and use of ICT technology in schools, colleges and universities because this will provide the long term impact to the society,” she said.
She added that the current examination focused education system would not prepare Malaysians to be competitive globally.
“We need to make fundamental changes. We need more project-based learning, use of practical application to appreciate theory to encourage inquisitive thinking. We need our children to be able to communicate in English well, while ensuring the quality of our own language,” she said.
Ghosh said the corporate sectors could act as technology advisers to the government on policy development and strategic focus through collaborations to drive key ICT applications.
“For example Intel Teach; Intel has taught 35,000 teachers in Malaysia. Intel is a strategic ICT partner to Ministry of Education,” she said.
She said they could also carry out research and development to raise the competency of the locals and have collaboration with the local universities, adding that Intel provided 17 grants annually for students to research in universities.-The Edge