PETALING JAYA: Leading Malaysian entrepreneur and a regular panellist at the World Economic Forum (WEF) events, Datuk Seri Vijay Eswaran was in Davos recently where he stressed that digitisation will be the main driver of economic recovery in Asean following the devastating pandemic.

According to him, the Asean region, one of the fastest evolving digital economies in the world, has seen digital transformation as one of the silver linings observed from the Covid-19 pandemic, noting that it has boosted its internet users by over 10% in just one year, and will also be a critical force reinvigorating growth and recovery across the region.

“In 2021, the number of internet users in Asean grew by over 10 percent to 400 million people. Almost 70 percent of Asean’s population is now online—well above the global rate of 60 percent. The region’s digital economy is now valued over $100 billion. However, for many ASEAN people, expensive or poor internet quality or digital devices, lack of digital skills, and trust and security concerns stand in their way of fully reaping their fair share of benefits from an inclusive digital economy,” said Vijay after his return from attending the WEF’s annual meeting in Davos.

Vijay is also of the opinion that Asean needs to urgently upskill its workforce to tackle barriers to digital adoption.

“To drive digital transformation and to accommodate the new normal, businesses must quickly work with forward-thinking vendors or businesses who can successfully and securely facilitate digital transformation today and prevent obstacles tomorrow. We must build harmony between people, process, and technologies to achieve better business outcomes in efforts to enable digital transformation,” Vijay said.

To best promote digitalisation in the economy, he highlighted the urgent need for further upskilling and reskilling initiatives to ensure that this digital generation is equipped for a post-pandemic world and beyond.

The Executive Chairman of Asian conglomerate, the QI Group, was a discussion leader at the session titled A Digital Asean for all, where leaders from Asean and close partners discussed how the region’s digital future could be shaped to benefit all parts of society and deliver its true potential.

Other discussion leaders at the session included Malaysian Finance Minister, Tengku Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz, Anthony Tan of Grab, and Derrick Loi of ANT Group. The session was moderated by John Riady, CEO of the Lippo Group from Indonesia.

Vijay also highlighted that multistake-holder actions in the region must be prioritized to address pertinent issues and to make sure that digital transformation delivers tangible benefits for all of Asean.

After a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic, the WEF hosted its flagship annual meeting in Davos once again this year. The QI Group, a member of the WEF since 2009, has been an active contributor to WEF events and meetings over the last decade. The WEF’s Annual Meeting has emerged as a key focal point for leaders to accelerate the partnerships needed to tackle global challenges and shape a more sustainable and inclusive future.