Ministry to drive digital economy through flagship projects

4 Digital3The Ministry of Information and Communications Technology announced last week that it has budgeted over $100 million in 2016 for three flagship projects designed to drive development of the digital economy, an essential component of the Kingdom’s strategy to promote growth by supporting enterprises that rely on knowledge and creativity.

The flagship projects involve working with established industries, supporting tech startups and expanding community IT learning centers across the country. The projects encompass five areas: hard infrastructure, soft infrastructure, service infrastructure, promotions and innovation, and the digital society and knowledge.

Thailand’s advances in this field were recognized last week by the International Telecommunications Union, a United Nations entity, which called Thailand one of the “most dynamic countries” in the world and the most dynamic in Asia when it comes to Information and Communications Technology (ICT) development.

Manoo Ordeedolchest, a member of the government’s Digital Economy Committee, said that the ministry intends to “create more than 10,000 IT-skilled employees in the next five years and create more than 40,000 innovative and ideas-driven employees in the marketplace within 10 years to support demand.”

The ministry will achieve this by working with the private sector and universities to foster innovation and IT skills in students so they could develop ideas into innovative products that would reach the marketplace.

“We will also try to provide idea-creation skills and innovative skills to support tech startups and the real sector,” he said.

Equally important, the ministry would collaborate with the Federation of Thai Industries to develop a platform to make it easier to provide Thai-made goods to the global market.

This would include developing a global trade item number (GTIN) system of international standard for Thai products, making it easier for importers to identify, locate and source Thai goods. GTIN is a system of Universal Product Code identifiers.

Manoo said that the GTIN would help boost business, both for domestic sales and exports, by making it easier to provide products through e-commerce. It should be especially helpful to the e-commerce development and success of small and medium-sized businesses, which are the backbone of the Thai economy.

In addition, the funding will be used to support and expand the more than 1,900 community learning centers across the country where locals and villagers learn ICT skills that can help them in business and all aspects of their lives.

Much of the funding for the initiatives will come from money left over from the troubled “One Tablet, One Child” program of the previous government, which experienced a host of problems, including failure by some suppliers to deliver the tablets, and was never completed.