SINGAPORE - Leaps in digital technology have disrupted lives across the Asia-Pacific, but countries must harness digitalisation to achieve inclusive growth and raise their standard of living, President Halimah Yacob said on Tuesday (June 25).
Singapore is getting its people ready for the digital economy by equipping them with the skills and knowledge to use emerging technologies actively, meaningfully, and safely, she added.
She was speaking at a gala dinner at the Istana to mark the 40th anniversary of the Asia-Pacific Telecommunity (APT), an intergovernmental organisation of regulators based in Bangkok. It has 38 full members, including Singapore's Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA).
"While digitalisation has presented challenges and disruptions, it can also be used as an important force for spurring innovation, fostering new markets and driving inclusive growth to raise the standard of living for many societies around the world," said Madam Halimah.
She cited Singapore's planned roll-out of 5G network services by 2020 as an example of one emerging technology through which the Republic hopes to drive inclusive economic growth.
"We envision 5G to be an enabler to support the development of new innovative applications and services that will power our Digital Economy," she said. "It is not just about how fast our 5G network is or how soon we have it deployed, but also about how we use the 5G network to create value and deliver benefits to our businesses and people."
"A focus area for the Singapore Government is to enhance the expertise and quality of the workforce in the infocomm technology sector, so that our workers are ready with the new skill sets for future jobs created and impacted by 5G. This effort will involve close collaboration between the Government and the industry."
5G data transfer speeds are said to be at least 10 times faster than 4G. It also dramatically reduces network latency - the lag between a signal being sent and received - compared to its predecessor.
South Korea became the first country in the world to commercially launch nationwide 5G mobile services in April, while China handed out commercial 5G licences to its three major state-owned telcos and a TV network earlier this month.
Madam Halimah said staying connected to the world is especially important to a small and open economy like Singapore, which is always looking for new ways to collaborate with other countries. Recently, the Republic began talks with Chile and New Zealand on a Digital Economy Partnership Agreement that aims to set forward-looking standards on digital trade and new approaches to better support the digital economy.
"This collaborative spirit is especially pertinent when new technologies are being adopted at a faster pace than before, and skills and regulatory frameworks have to keep up," she added.
"We must all work together to make digital inclusion a priority," she said. "The APT plays an important role in that regard, by supporting inclusive development within the region."
A two-day APT ministerial meeting began on Tuesday, and delegates are expected to adopt a new five-year vision for the region on telecommunication and ICT development on Wednesday.