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More ICT investment needed: businessmen

CAMBODIA’S economy can “leapfrog” by developing its information and communications technology (ICT) industry, but the government is not spending enough on ICT infrastructure to attract private investments, business leaders said at a seminar in Phnom Penh yesterday.

“What has been seen over the last 20 years is that countries can leapfrog from a very low end of development to a very high end by using ICT, without going through the normal [development] process,” said India’s Ambassador to Cambodia, Dinesh Patnaik.

For example, using the internet, farmers can rely on the weather forecast to guide their farming decisions instead of depending on their own predictions, he said.

But first, the government needs to invest in ICT infrastructure – such as fibre-optic cables and mechanisms to lower electrical fees – in order to attract business, he added.

IT spending in Cambodia is expected to reach $209 million in 2015, with the government acting as a key spender, said research company International Data Corporation in 2011.

In the last few years, Cambodia has experienced a “rapid expansion in ICT infrastructure”, and demand for services is largest in the banking, education, and business services sectors, said Phuong Samnang, deputy secretary general of the National Information Technology Development Authority.

But current infrastructure is not sufficient, said the Indian Chamber of Commerce in Cambodia’s president, Debasish Pattnaik. Spending on ICT infrastructure “has taken a backseat”, as the government has more immediate problems to tackle.

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