Thailand is rolling out a digitally fuelled effort to enhance its economy and boost competitiveness.
The current aim for the nation is to become Southeast Asia’s leader for all things digital. And the Kingdom’s Ministry for Digital Economy and Society is striving to make this happen through its Thailand 4.0 plan. Thailand 4.0 includes national investments in digital infrastructure, regulatory changes to support innovation and building networks of innovators within Thailand and across borders.
The desired result is for Thailand to become the go-to destination for entrepreneurs from the world’s innovation hubs to target Southeast Asia’s highly populated, fast-growing economies. Thailand is seeking to generate 25% of GDP through the digital technology industry by 2027.
“Our goal is to demonstrate that Thailand is the best place in ASEAN for digital innovators to invest, build businesses and to grow in Southeast Asia,” said Dr. Pichet Durongkaveroj, Thailand’s Digital Economy and Society Minister. “Thailand has the creative talent, the entrepreneurial spirit – and with the full backing of the government, has the right ecosystem in place to foster success. Our message to digital innovators around the world is to make Thailand your home base in Southeast Asia. This will be good for both innovators and for people in Thailand.”
The Ministry of Digital Economy and Society’s actions are already being felt in Thailand.
Thai villages will soon benefit from these plans as the government has approved a national broadband roll-out for nearly 75,000 Thai communities nationwide. Beyond the immediate goal of giving everyone in Thailand access to high-speed internet, the secondary aim is to connect all schools, hospitals, and municipalities. All of this is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2018. Once the roll-out is complete, the government is planning to provide a variety of e-services, including e-commerce for rural communities, e-health, e-education, and an e-agriculture platform to help farmers better leverage the power of the Internet.
Thailand is also in the process of building a project known as Digital Park, which will span nearly 280 acres in Chonburi province and will be a hub for a variety of start-ups, the IoT industry as well as the base for Thailand’s smart city initiatives.
Moreover, the government has already begun to enhance connections with digital leaders across borders and has fast tracked an ease of doing business initiative with regulatory adjustments to optimise the environment for venture capitalists who specialise in digital innovation.
This week, the country is also hosting Southeast Asia’s largest digital and technological exhibition, Digital Thailand Big Bang (DTBB) 2017, for all aspects of digital where the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society will officially form partnerships with the Organization for Economic Cooperation Development, International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the General Entrepreneurship Network (GEN) in developing and accessing investment for Thai digital start-ups and building cybersecurity.
The Digital Thailand Big Bang (DTBB) exhibition is taking place at the IMPACT Convention Center in Muang Thong Thani, September 21-24 2017. Start-up founders, venture capitalists and executives from many of the world’s leading digital technology companies will be in attendance. Start-ups from across Asia, Africa, Europe, the US and, of course, Thailand will vie for prizes and funding. In addition, companies developing AI, robotics, drone technology will demonstrate products and seek to build commercial relationships.
The four-day event will also be featuring Malaysian tech start-ups, namely RunCloud, EasyParcel, BolehCompare and HelloGold along with Malaysian Global Innovation & Creativity Centre (MaGIC) to showcase their innovative and disruptive tech solutions, across the finance and logistic sectors. Identified as an attractive market for digital market expansion, Malaysian tech companies and angel investors have begun to look toward expanding to Thailand, thanks to the emergence of e-commerce and a mature enterprise services, on top of its business-friendly policies.
It is all part of the plan set forth by the Thai government to transform Thailand’s economy from one based on manufacturing to one based on digital technology. This plan has firm backing from Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to catch the attention of investors and innovators in a population of numerous digitally-savvy consumers. In addition to heavy social media usage, Thailand is currently the third largest e-commerce market in the region, valued at US$900 million and is expected to increase its ecommerce business 12-fold to a value of US$11.1 billion by 2025.
The Thai government is also seeking to enhance its own digital credentials and aims to be in the Top 50 of the United Nations e-Government rankings. Thailand is also rolling out a smart city plan, with initiatives set for Phuket, Chang Mai and Khon Kaen.
Dr. Pichet Durongkaveroj says that the digitisation investments that Thailand is making today will pay off for the society in the years ahead.
“Thailand has the creativity and the entrepreneurial spirit to be a digital hub in Southeast Asia, particularly for businesses that require high levels of creative inputs,” said Dr. Pichet Durongkaveroj. “Thai private enterprises have also performed well in becoming regional, and in setting up successful businesses across the diverse markets in ASEAN. This is another strength we offer for digital companies with Southeast Asia in their sites.”
For more information on DTBB 2017 and its programme, please visit www.digitalthailandbigbang.com.