Member countries of the Asia Pacific Cooperation (APEC) are bent on promoting the use of the internet and tools such as smart phones and global positioning systems to spur growth in next generation technology and improve the lives of the 3 billion people in the region, officials said on Tuesday.
“Governments in the Asia-Pacific region hold the means to unlock the potential of the digital economy which is still largely unrealized,” said Ahmad Shabery Cheek, Malaysia’s Minister of Communications and Multimedia and Chair of the APEC Telecommunications and Information Ministerial Meeting.
He cited the need for regulatory and governance reforms that keep pace with new technological breakthroughs and said APEC member economies are finalizing a new five-year plan to maximize the use of the internet.
The 21 APEC member countries are the world’s largest producers and consumers of information and communications technology. Details of the five-year plan were the focal issue of the two-day meeting in Kuala Lumpur that ends on Tuesday.
The members plan to boost digital infrastructure in the region and provide consumers access to new information and communications technology applications. They have sought recommendations from private sector representatives.
“Our industry does not wait for policymakers and regulators to say ‘yes’ before they innovate,” Shabery said.
“We must be dynamic in the way we work to support industry innovation, and to promote this innovation towards meaningful and appropriate application and adoption by other sectors,” he said.
Shabery said ICT has created excellent conditions for commercial innovation and production of wealth in the Asia-Pacific region.
“However, old business models are now under threat from models emerging from the digital economy. Established businesses are witnessing reduced investments and jobs,” he said.
“We need to enhance strategies to allow Asia-Pacific economies and the people of the region to tap into the commercial opportunities that can be gained through the use of broadband. This can only happen through consistent and sufficient investment in the ICT sector,” Shabery said.
He called for measures to enhance the security of ICT networks and “we must continue to create a positive and trusted cyber environment where the flow of data and confidentiality of transactions is protected.”
“Due to the scale of cyber threats and attacks which have surfaced in recent times, we have been made painfully aware that security of the cyber environment must be an on-going and holistic process that guarantees connectivity and protects communication,” Shabery said.