Explainer: How to Boost DigitalTech in Cambodia

Cambodia has drawn up a DigitalTech Roadmap 2023, which lays out strategies to promote the use of digital technologies nationwide
Preah Sihanouk province skyline, August, 2023. Kiripost/Siv Channa
Preah Sihanouk province skyline, August, 2023. Kiripost/Siv Channa

The Ministry of Industrial, Science, Technology and Innovation has published the DigitalTech Roadmap 2023, providing guided strategies to promote DigitalTech in Cambodia based on five steps.

The Ministry said to reach this, a well-planned and comprehensive national DigitalTech Roadmap is necessary. It presents a pathway to drive the digital transformation of Cambodia at an individual, organizational, and national level.

The roadmap will include fundamental stages and objectives that the government, private sector, and academia should strive towards in terms of DigitalTech development.

The Digital Technology (DigitalTech) Roadmap is a strategic document that highlights the vision, goals, strategic products and services, and key technologies of Cambodia, in terms of national DigitalTech development.

This roadmap aims to complement existing digital policy frameworks, roadmaps, and strategies, for the common goal of transforming Cambodia into an upper-middle-income country by 2030 and a high-income country by 2050.

“In order to fuel the digital transformation of Cambodia with the vision of becoming an upper-middle-income country by 2030 and a high-income country by 2050, a National DigitalTech Roadmap is of paramount importance,” said the report.

The objective of the National DigitalTech Roadmap is to build a strong foundation, identify clear stages for development, and establish steps on how to reach them effectively. The four scopes of this roadmap include Vision Building, Environment Analysis, Strategic Products/Services driven by innovation, and Key technologies, in terms of short-, medium- , and long-term goals.

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DigitalTech Demand, Supply and Trends

Cambodia technologies and digital businesses hit $470 million in revenue for 2019, according to the Asian Economic Integration Report 2021.

And market demand in Cambodia stands at approximately $29.6 billion collectively, of which only about $5.7 billion is filled by digital financial applications, according to the National Bank of Cambodia (NBC).

In 2019, Cambodia had a young population between the ages of 15 and 35 of about 5.69 million people. Of this figure, 2.88 million were women, equivalent to 36.59 percent of the total population, and 55.97 percent of the total working-age were 15- to 64-years-old.

“This young demographic dividend is a main driver of the advancement of DigitalTech and digital economic transformation in society through the adoption of technologies for both socioeconomic development and self-development following global trends,” it added.

In addition, the number of internet users reached 8.86 million, with an increase of 1.1 million between 2020 and 2021. And Cambodian internet users prefer to use mobile phones for accessing the internet, which is reflected in the Digital 2021 report. Among all devices, mobile phones accounted for 52 percent, laptops and desktops for 45.9 percent, and tablet computers for 2.2 percent of total web traffic (Kemp, 2021)⁠.

“The government plans to promote the development of the digital economy, expand internet access, and improve digital literacy. It also aims to enhance cybersecurity and data protection,” the report mentioned.

Hong Vannak, an economic researcher at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, said the digital economy is such an enormous market and the development of more digital platforms is pivotal for facilitating traders in running businesses online.

“The digital transaction has the adherence connectivity with banks in the country. Therefore, facilitating the digital market system will assist all operators, including sellers and buyers, in a more convenient and safe way. Hence boosting purchasing and selling in the digital market more,” he said.

He added that advancement of DigitalTech will not only foster the economy, but also facilitate in collecting tax.

Digital Related Policies

The digital economy is regarded as one of the key drivers of growth. The Cambodia Digital Economy and Society Policy Framework 2021- 2035 (SNEC, 2021) sets policy measures to develop digital infrastructure focusing on digital connectivity, financial technology infrastructure and digital payment systems, and logistics and last-mile delivery. It also aims to build trust and confidence in digital systems, focusing on responsive and effective legal frameworks and strengthening digital security management.

The Cambodia Digital Government Policy 2022-2035 (MPTC, 2022) aims to achieve 10 goals. These are namely establishing and improving digital connectivity infrastructure, establishing digital payment system infrastructure for public services, strengthening digital security infrastructure, developing postal service infrastructure, organizing digital government governance, digitizing government and public services, developing digital human capital, promoting digital research and innovation, promoting collaborations with DigitalTech companies, and promoting digital start-ups.

Additionally, Cambodia’s STI Roadmap 2030 has been established and covers the digital sector as one of its key areas of focus.

“One of the key goals of the roadmap is to increase access to affordable and high-quality digital infrastructure and services across the country,” stated the roadmap.

In addition, this includes expanding broadband internet coverage, promoting the development of digital applications and services, and encouraging the adoption of digital technologies in both the public and private sectors.

Cloud-Based Services

The priority themes to be explored in Cambodia have been defined in the National Research Agenda 2025, where DigitalTech is the backbone supporting the eight identified research missions. These include local food, reliable energy supply, quality education, electronic and mechanical spare parts, cloud-based services, electricity and potable water, carbon neutrality, and digitally-enhanced health.

It added, “Cloud-based service is one of the priority themes that heavily relies on DigitalTech to provide scalable, efficient, and secure solutions.”

DigitalTech enables the creation and maintenance of robust cloud infrastructure, allowing organizations to store and access data remotely. It facilitates the development of cloud computing platforms, enabling seamless sharing and collaboration, data backup, and disaster recovery.

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Health Care

DigitalTech is also strongly involved in digitally-enhanced health to transform healthcare delivery and improve patient outcomes.

“Telemedicine leverages digital technology to provide remote consultations, enabling patients to access healthcare services from any location. Electronic health records digitize patient records, enabling seamless data sharing among healthcare providers, reducing errors, and improving care coordination,” the report said.

It added that the ongoing research and innovation within these priority aspects will further harness the power of DigitalTech to drive advancements, improve efficiencies, and enhance outcomes in areas such as data storage, accessibility, collaboration, remote healthcare, personalized medicine, and health data analysis.

The five steps to developing a comprehensive DigitalTech Roadmap

The first step is to define a vision and goals for the digital sector in Cambodia for the next eight years. This includes identifying the essential technologies required to develop the sector globally and contribute to the growth of the national economy.

The second step involves conducting an environmental analysis that considers social, technological, economic, environmental, and political concerns. This analysis will help identify drivers, opportunities, and threats in the DigitalTech sector.

In the third step, potential functions, strategic products, and services are identified. The expert committees then score the priority products and services to determine the final selection.

The fourth step involves identifying key technologies that can drive the DigitalTech Roadmap vision building for Cambodia.

The fourth step involves identifying key technologies that can drive the DigitalTech Roadmap vision building for Cambodia.

Social Environment

One of the key factors to consider in the environmental analysis is the social environment. Social factors are crucial in achieving the vision of promoting economic growth and development, as well as ensuring equality and inclusivity in society.

One of the key factors to consider is the social environment. Social factors are crucial in achieving the vision of promoting economic growth and development as well as ensuring equality and inclusivity in society.

Technological Environment

Additionally, the technological environment is influenced by a range of factors, including mobile and internet technologies, e-commerce, artificial intelligence, research and development, infrastructure and accessibility, and grid development to support technology adoption.

The availability of digital infrastructure and access to technology can impact the ability to achieve the vision. For instance, regions with better internet connectivity and 20 advanced digital infrastructure are likely to be more successful in leveraging DigitalTech to enhance productivity and efficiency

Economic Environment

The drivers of economic growth, which have been extensively discussed, include the emergence of tech startups, increased foreign investments, the proliferation of digital businesses, the advent of e banking and e-payment systems, greater access to funding for innovation and new technology solutions, expanded possibilities for connecting with investors, and the availability of funding opportunities from government and international organizations.

All of these factors play a crucial role in shaping the economic environment of a DigitalTech Roadmap, and should be taken into account when developing a strategy for its implementation.

The environmental impact of DigitalTech, including its carbon footprint, waste generation, and resource depletion, should also be considered.

While DigitalTech has the potential to enhance productivity and efficiency, it can also contribute to environmental degradation. Therefore, sustainable practices must be incorporated into the use of DigitalTech.

Opportunities & Threats of DigitalTech in Cambodia

The vision is to induce DigitalTech to enhance productivity and efficiency, and to bring about innovation for socioeconomic development.

There are three main goals: leveraging digital literacy and IT skills as a foundation for human capital development; diversifying digital infrastructure in the national innovation system for priority sectors; and building a vibrant ecosystem through connectivity within digital and physical spaces.

The opportunities of DigitalTech in Cambodia can also be found in the higher youth population (2/3 under 35); high demand with high salary in the market; many services providers; higher adoption starting from banking sector; higher adoption and innovation; open economy, higher attraction to investors, cheap labor; abundant resource availability; many endorsements and drafting from all related ministries; youth learn fast and are tech-savvy; and strong collaboration in ASEAN and Mekong countries.

Meanwhile, the threats in DigitalTech in Cambodia include limited technology training/ awareness to the youth; availability of skilled workforce; lack of infrastructure and quality of services; consumer protection; lack of investment and sustainability; sanctions (EBA withdrawal); climate change with low resilience among local people; awareness to public, implementation, and investment; security; customer security; and protection and ethics of AI use.

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Key Technologies

The highest-scoring key technologies were for cybersecurity, 5G, automation systems, big data, AI and machine learning, computer software, Wi-Fi 6/7, and cloud computing.

Meanwhile, Quantum Computing ranks relatively lower with a score of 5/10, indicating moderate importance but low feasibility. The practical implementation of this technology is challenging and may require further advancements.

With hindsight, Cambodia should promote the utilization of digital devices, including mobile devices such as personal computers, tablets or smartphones, in the short-term, as they are a prerequisite to enabling digital transformation to occur.


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