PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Investment Development Authority (Mida) is on track to achieve its RM70 billion target for digital-related investments, in line with the Malaysia Digital Blueprint’s (MyDigital) strategies.
The Digital Investment Office (DIO), a collaborative platform between Mida and the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC), have successfully facilitated RM66.47 billion worth of investments as of September 2022, which is over 99% of the target under the MyDigital initiative.
Notable data centre and data hosting projects approved include those by China’s Bridge Data Centres Malaysia III Sdn Bhd and ByteDance System Sdn Bhd, as well as Malaysian public-listed company YTL Power International Bhd.
Mida executive director (services development) Zuaida Abdullah said digital adoption among businesses is accelerating, although it is still low among small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) due to barriers such as technology costs and the absence of digital strategies.
“Digitalisation by businesses is more common today. Although the journey can be challenging for SMEs, they should embrace technological advancements such as artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT) and Big Data.
“To this end, Mida is facilitating industry players in their digital transformation journey to reduce the digital divide between Malaysian SMEs and multinational corporations (MNCs) in Malaysia,” she told Bernama.
Digital transformation of SMEs
In 2021, Mida collaborated with the Malaysia Productivity Corporation (MPC) and Intel Malaysia for the AI for SMEs (AI4S) programme.
A total of 100 SMEs were selected to participate in the programme, where they underwent a comprehensive technology-enabling process and training to implement personalised pilot projects for their businesses to jump-start their AI technology adoption journey.
Subsequently, Mida, MPC and Intel launched the Productivity Through Digitalisation – AI4S programme proof of concept project compilation booklet which featured 31 completed pilot projects on June 22, 2022.
Mida and MDEC had set up the DIO in 2021 to attract, coordinate, promote and facilitate all digital investments in Malaysia, in addition to strengthening coordination among all investment promotion agencies (IPAs) in the country.
The move was endorsed by the National Council of Digital Economy and the Fourth Industrial Revolution (MED4IR).
According to Zuaida, the setting up of the DIO was timely and in line with the global investment shift towards digitalisation and Industrial Revolution 4.0 (IR 4.0), creating unique and interesting value propositions to attract more digital-related projects.
Strategies to encourage digital investment
Zuaida said Malaysia is always ready to welcome quality investments and encourage companies to embrace new and advanced technologies to strengthen the industry ecosystem by raising productivity levels, increasing efficiency and enhancing local capabilities.
“As digitalisation is a fast-evolving segment and becoming a new norm, we also welcome new technologies that can enhance Malaysia’s capability as a digital nation.
“In the wake of IR 4.0, businesses are keener to acquire the knowledge and expertise they need,” she said.
Zuaida also noted that the government’s initiative in expediting the 5G network rollout via Digital Nasional Bhd will be a key driver of Malaysia’s economic growth.
“The adoption of 5G technologies is projected to increase Malaysia’s gross domestic product by 5% or RM122 billion and create 750,000 high-skilled jobs in 2030; driving efficiencies, increasing productivity and creating new opportunities for Malaysia’s economy,” added Zuaida.
As of December 2022, Malaysia’s 5G rollout efforts have achieved almost 50% coverage of populated areas nationwide.
Mida will continue its promotions and execute its action plans to further enhance the adoption of digitalisation in businesses, with more focus on the environmental, social and governance (ESG) agenda in the project pipeline.
Zuaida said that bridging the ESG agenda and digital transformation is vital, noting that now is the time for businesses and technology to come together to plan a sustainable future.
“The data centre companies, for example, have corporate targets to reduce their carbon footprint and set ambitious goals to achieve net zero carbon emissions over the next 20 to 30 years.
Additionally, Mida has urged MNCs to invest in upskilling, reskilling and cross-skilling their talents in order to bridge the skills gap as part of the social elements of ESG.
Citing Microsoft as an example, she said the technology giant has announced its commitment to upskill one million Malaysians by the end of 2023 through the Bersama Malaysia initiative.
“As of August 2022, Microsoft has achieved over 60% of its skilling target or 600,000 talents,” added Zuraida.