Thailand takes a big leap towards innovative digital economy
Thailand aims at taking a leap forward, becoming a digital and innovative economy – Thailand 4.0. According to the official plans, taking this 'digi leap' would make Thailand the driver of digitalization in South-East Asia, and within a decade, a quarter of Thailand's GDP would be created by the digital sector.
The Government of Thailand has in the recent years adopted several different reform strategies, most notably the Thailand 4.0 strategy, which aim at transforming the economy and shifting its basis from manufacturing to growth from digitalization. From Thailand's perspective, the likes of agriculture, manufacturing and service sectors should be digitized, moving forward to smart solutions.
Thailand has also launched a specific 'Digital Thailand' strategy. Moreover, there are broad plans about increasing e-governance by developing an e-Government law that mandates standards, data protection and security. Many government procedures will be digitized by implementing the 'Paperless Thailand' plan.
The reforms are being spearheaded by the Ministry for Digital Economy and Society and Electronic Government Agency (EGA).
The first step is improving Thailand's digital infrastructure and building a foundation for the 'digi leap'. This includes extending the coverage of broadband internet to all villages of Thailand. The work is on-going and by the end of this year, all 75 000 villages of Thailand should have an access to broadband. Thailand also envisions to provide free Wi-Fi for ~10 000 locations, including schools and community centers. Regarding the health care, Thailand is developing an electronic Personal Health Record system.
Meanwhile, there are lots of possibilities for different e-commerce solutions and other e-services in Thailand, as according to recent studies, Thais use the most time online in the world. E-commerce is already growing faster than in any other South-East Asian country, but the growth is expected to continue booming.
Another step is the building of five Smart Cities within next three years. Pilot projects have been kicked off in Phuket and Chiang Mai. Thailand is also establishing so-called Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) located in the eastern provinces of Rayong, Chon Buri and Chachoensao to attract foreign direct investments and improve the infrastructure in the region. Part of the EEC will be a new Digital Park, which will house an Institute for IoT and an analysis center for big data. The Institute for IoT will be formed by a consortium of the Ministry for Digital Economy and Society and Thai and foreign companies as well as research centers. Foreign companies investing in the EEC will receive incentives including corporate tax exemptions, import duty exemptions, financial incentives, a permit to own land and visa and work permit facilitation schemes. The Thai Government plans to invest some USD 30 million in establishing the park.
Thailand currently has a shortage of renewed skills and expertise that the transition into the digital era requires. Workforce needs to adopt new skills and the education system requires an upgrade. Thailand has an appetite for start-up education and various e-learning solutions.
Thailand's Minister for Digital Economy and Society Pichet Durongkaverote has specifically expressed interest towards Finnish expertize and offering on digitalization and ICT sectors. Thailand is interested in a wide range of Finnish expertize, including e-learning solutions, e-commerce, e-banking, e-health, start-up incubators, e-security and cyber security solutions, digital solutions for energy.
There will be a ministerial Team Finland delegation to Thailand on 13-15 June, 2018. Among others, the delegation's focus areas include presenting Finland's offering on digitalization: https://www.businessfinland.fi/en/whats-new/events/2018/business-delegations/team-finland-visit-to-thailand-and-sri-lanka-on-10-14-june-2018/
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