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Driving Malaysia’s Digital Opportunities Forward

Malaysia

Emerging from the highly successful six-week-long tech extravaganza, the Malaysia Digital Expo 2023 (MDX2023), Malaysia’s reputation as a thriving investment destination and a digital hub linking the rest of Southeast Asia has soared to greater heights. With the theme “Let’s do Business. Get Invested in Malaysia,” MDX2023 served as a platform for Malaysia to showcase its digital capabilities and encourage collaborations.

During the Grand Finale opening ceremony at MDX2023, Malaysia’s Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim said, “Malaysia is resolute in establishing a growth economy that is not only sustainable but also inclusive, and MDX2023 is a testament to Malaysia’s unwavering commitment to realizing our digital economy ambitions.

Our digital economy stands as one of Malaysia’s key economic pillars, contributing a substantial 23.2% to our nation’s GDP today. The challenge is to ensure that we emerge as a successful nation through digital transformation.”

Significant Milestones

Malaysia Digital (MD) and its predecessor, MSC Malaysia, have seen positive growth over almost three decades of existence. In total, 2,708 active companies have collectively invested more than RM430 billion (US$91.8 billion), generating over RM500 billion (US$106.7 billion) in revenue and RM220 billion (US$49.9 billion) in exports, as well as creating close to 200,000 jobs.

Malaysia has accomplished this due to its stable business environment, mature digital infrastructure, innovative ecosystem, multi-lingual and digitally savvy talent pool, and competitive marketplace. It is also centrally located in ASEAN, making the country a primary digital hub and a natural location for global companies to expand into Southeast Asia.

MDEC has consistently endeavored to promote these strengths over the years, aiming to capture the attention of investors and position Malaysia as an attractive destination for digital opportunities. In 2022, Malaysia managed to attract more than RM40 billion (US$8.5 billion) worth of digital opportunities, particularly driven by a surge in data center investment. These remarkable achievements came to fruition through various synergistic collaborations and opportunities.

In 2023, Malaysia continued its upward momentum in digital opportunities and sealed several deals, including RM8.3 billion (US$1.7 billion) at the London Tech Week. Additionally, the country signed a number of memoranda of understanding (MoU) worth RM19.84 billion (US$4.2 billion) with Chinese companies. During a recent business mission, which coincided with the Gulf Information Technology Exhibition (GITEX) Global 2023 and the Expand North Star (ENS) event in Dubai, about RM600 million (US$128 million) worth of estimated potential deals were facilitated and export opportunities worth over RM330 million (US$70.4 million) were captured.

As of August 2023, Malaysia has successfully secured foreign direct investment commitments worth RM37.4 billion (US$7.9 billion). Against this backdrop, the digital economy in Malaysia is on track to contribute over 25.5% to the nation’s GDP by 2025.

From Opportunities To Reality

Malaysia’s digital opportunities have resulted in a number of high-impact projects, such as a data center and hosting project between Bridge Data Centres and ByteDance. Also in development is a 275-acre data center campus in Kulai, Johor by YTL Power International.

Amazon Web Services, the largest global cloud service provider, has made a significant investment in Malaysia by establishing a major infrastructure region here. It has also committed to supporting 1,000 local companies, including startups and SMEs, and annually training at least 2,000 students in local schools and institutes of higher learning by 2027.

These projects are a testament to Malaysia’s readiness as an ideal data center hub and are expected to create high-value job opportunities for Malaysians in areas that include network specialists, cloud architects, data scientists and community specialists in social networks.

Outside of the data center arena, Malaysia continues to benefit from time-honored relationships such as with Intel Corporation, with the establishment of new fabrication for microprocessors, as well as the expansion of digital solutions manufacturing with German chipmaker Infineon. Other companies that have successfully redomiciled recently include Streamline Studios and CXS Analytics.

Aside from attracting global opportunities, MDEC has also tapped into Malaysia’s vibrant startup ecosystem, as one of the countries listed in the Top 1,000 Global Startup Ecosystem Index 2023, to promote local champions going global.

Behind all these achievements stands MDEC’s ongoing mission, which is to establish a development pipeline, offer essential support systems, and implement effective policies to enable and scale digitalization. Achieving this is possible through MDEC’s engagement in public-private collaborations, collecting, managing, and analyzing data across various industries in the digital economy.

The Next Decade Of Digitalization

Malaysia’s digital transformation journey has indeed come a long way. Over 27 years, MDEC as the country’s digital economy custodian, has promoted digitalization across all business sectors while creating equitable opportunities within the digital economy for all Malaysians. Its unwavering mission has always been to push the limits of transformative initiatives, shaping the nation’s digital future and accelerating the digital economy agenda both locally and globally.

For instance, MDEC has established a strong relationship with the education sector to ensure new talents are ready to join the digital workforce. It also advocated the creation of new tech- and digital-focused policies that provide opportunities for companies to scale-up, and opened doors for digital businesses to explore local prospects and regional expansion.

Realizing the potential for Malaysia to continue leading the nation’s digital agenda and positioning itself as a digital hub of ASEAN, MDEC is already preparing the country for the upcoming phase of next-generation innovation and its impact on its socio-economy.

MDEC is driving Malaysia toward an innovation-driven future by prioritizing and developing a digitally-skilled workforce to strengthen its human capital and ensure the resilience of emerging talents. It will continue to champion game-changing policies and regulations, as it has successfully done in the past, to advance Malaysia’s digital economy and promote a dynamic community for positive digital transformation in ASEAN.

At the core of MDEC’s mission is the belief that the benefits of the digital economy should be accessible. The organization continues to advocate and facilitate policies that extend digital economy opportunities to all Malaysians.

“The true measure of our success lies not only in the fiscal numbers but in the lives we have transformed and the difference we have been able to make,” says Mahadhir Aziz, CEO of MDEC.

“We are not merely driving the digital economy but also shaping a future where opportunity, inclusivity and sustainability intersect. By nurturing talent and fostering collaboration, we can further accelerate our nation’s ascent to digital leadership on the global stage.”

– Press Release

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