Much attention has been placed on Cambodia’s booming ICT industry over the past couple of months, most notably at the recent World Economic Forum on Asean which shone a spotlight on Southeast Asia’s rapid adoption of digital technology. Other ICT news dominated headlines, with the Kingdom’s telcos getting in trouble for alleged predatory pricing. Post Staff
Telcotech, a subsidiary of local internet provider Ezecom, officially launched Cambodia’s first undersea fibre-optic communications cable after nearly two years of construction, promising faster, cheaper and more secure internet connectivity.
The 1,300-kilometre-long Malaysia-Cambodia-Thailand (MCT) cable connects the three countries to the existing Asia-America Gateway (AAG), a pan-Pacific submarine cable system that links Southeast Asia to the United States. The cable project was carried out with Telekom Malaysia and Symphony Communication of Thailand, and was built by Chinese submarine network provider Huawei Marine Networks.
Marith Khin, country manager of NTT Communications Corp, a Japan-based firm that is working to bring a second undersea cable to the Kingdom, said the MCT connection will help increase the internet traffic in the country. And that should draw investment.
“When there is an improvement in internet traffic, it will be a factor to attract foreign investors, especially those who use technology as the main source for the development of their company,” he said.
The government repeated its call for the country’s telecom operators to end their alleged predatory pricing of mobile consumer plans, giving firms until the end of the month to change the terms of their promotions.
The Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications (MPTC) issued its warning following a meeting between the ministry, regulators and representatives of the country’s major telecom operators.
Ministry officials claimed the promotional packages, with some offering their customers to exchange up to $2 for $2,000 worth of on-network calls and data, went against the principles of fair competition outlined in the Telecommunications Law.
Financial technology, or “fintech”, in Cambodia has until now been largely limited to facilitating electronic money transfers, though experts speaking at a forum in Phnom Penh said the country has huge potential to develop and adopt digital platforms to deliver a wider array of financial services.
The Fintech Awareness Forum, co-organised by the National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) and the Mekong Business Initiative (MBI), gathered experts and fintech startups to share their experiences of the challenges and opportunities in the sector.
Addressing the forum, NBC Director General Chea Serey said that developing fintech would help promote financial inclusion in Cambodia because it would provide access to more financial products and services for unbanked people or people living in rural locations.
“Digital platforms are important to promote financial inclusion and help strengthen transparency in the Cambodian financial system and economy,” she said.
Southeast Asia’s youthful population is embracing the internet and rapidly connecting to the digital economy, creating enormous potential for economic growth throughout the region, panellists at the World Economic Forum on Asean said.
Addressing a panel discussion on “The Asean Dream”, Kao Kim Hourn, the minister attached to the prime minister of Cambodia, said that youth participation in the region’s development was imperative as they represent such a large portion of the population.
“Technology is developing very fast and it creates new opportunities and a chance to grow,” he said. “Youth need to recognise this potential and try to seize the opportunity.”
According to the World Economic Forum (WEF), more than half the population of the 10 countries that make up Asean is under 30 and the region has the fastest growing internet users in the world.
The number of people with internet access is growing by 124,000 every day, and will continue to grow at this pace for the next five years.
The head of an industry telecom body said Cambodia had so far been untouched by a global cyberattack that affected more than 200,000 victims across 150 countries.
Ransomware, dubbed “WannaCry”, had penetrated PCs connected to the internet – particularly those running old Windows XP software – encrypting a victim’s files and demanding $300 to unlock the data.
Steven Path, president of ICT Federation of Cambodia, said his group had not seen any attacks so far among its members but were still trying to gather more information on the hack.
“It seems to be spreading very fast across Europe and the US,” he said. “We have not heard of any attacks in Cambodia.”
Axiata Group sold a 10 percent stake of its Cambodian subsidiary Smart Axiata to Japanese group Mitsui Co Ltd to form a strategic partnership and further the firm’s activity in the Kingdom.
Mitsui purchased the stake in the local telecom for $66 million, putting the value of the company at $724 million when considering cash received from dividends.
Following the transaction, Axiata will continue to hold a controlling 82.5 percent stake in Smart.