The government plans to focus on developing tech startups in the small and medium enterprise, education and digital skills sectors before expanding to tourism, agriculture, and health.
Secretary of state for the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications Kang Chanmetha said this is a preliminary plan as the ministry is awaiting the completion of a study on the startup ecosystem in Cambodia, expected by the end of the year’s first quarter.
The study was commissioned to investment and risk management firm Mekong Strategic Partners, who was tasked with preparing the first report on the startup ecosystem involving community challenges and their needs.
“Once the report is completed, we will open it for consultation. We need a common front with views also from the NGOs as they have the ideas and activity but need the ecosystem and infrastructure that we are building now. So, we will open the dialogue to all stakeholders,” Mr Chanmetha said.
He reiterated that based on the recommendations, the government will implement a tech startup policy, a framework with strategies to grow the tech ecosystem.
He was speaking in a media conference to announce Digital Cambodia 2019, a programme designed to show the potential and growth of local technology businesses, and to establish communication and online networks.
“We would like to focus on many sectors to establish an ecosystem but we need to prioritise our focus as we have limited resources and tools,” he said, adding that funds for the ecosystem will come from the Capacity Building Research and Development Fund (CBRD) which has $4.5 million.
The Digital Cambodia 2019 event, which will take place on March 15-17, is a step towards preparing for the digital economy and is in line with the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
The event is organised by the National Institute of Posts, Telecommunications and ICT (NIPTICT), and sponsored by Smart Axiata, Metfone, and Huawei Technologies.
Mr Chanmetha said his ministry has been working hard to carry out its telecommunication network expansion plans.
“We are strengthening the quality of service in accordance with the evolution of technology, to promote human resource training, technical expertise, and establish a number of regulations to support the development of the digital sector.
“What’s important is that we have established a coherent collaboration mechanism with the private sector to promote the development of the sector. As a next step, we will continue to use the mechanisms that have been successfully implemented in the past and consider the development of the local technology industry,” he added.
NIPTICT president Seng Sopheap said Digital Cambodia 2019 is important as it helps Cambodia move to the next generation of industry through discussion and experience sharing with national and international experts.
“By bringing together social business models that are innovative, it will raise competitiveness and create more jobs, having a positive impact on the economy,” he added.
The event will be attended by 20,000 people, including officials from the telecommunications and information ministries of Asean member nations, telecommunications operators, ICT firms, microfinance institutions, and startups.