In this excerpt from his A Connected ASEAN essay, our Group Managing Director of International and Global Services, David Burns, discusses Australia’s role in defining future technological growth within the Southeast Asian region’s digital economy.
If ASEAN successfully harnesses the benefits of disruptive technologies, it is set to become a major force in the global digital economy. Australia can play a pivotal role.
The inaugural ASEAN-Australia Special Summit marks an important milestone for Australia and Southeast Asia this year, coinciding with a time of global change that will shape our collective future. As the world enters an era defined by digitisation and connectivity, no other region is more poised to benefit than ASEAN.
Counting among its 10 member states some of the world’s fastest growing economies, like Philippines and Vietnam, the World Economic Forum predicts ASEAN will become the world’s fifth largest economy by 2020. Google notes that the region’s internet economy hit US$50 billion in 2017 alone, making it the third largest global region for internet users.
Southeast Asia’s large and growing population is young and enthusiastically taking up new technologies in its cities, while its rural areas are increasingly being connected through the improved internet and mobile infrastructure. The latest data from global social media agency, We Are Social, shows that while just 58% of Southeast Asia’s population is online today, countries such as Indonesia and Vietnam are recording some of the world’s biggest jumps in social media user numbers – at year-on-year growth rates of 23 percent and 20 percent, respectively.
In the one-year period leading to January 2018, Indonesia saw its active social media user base grow by 24 million – a number equivalent to the Australian population. With a population of 265 million, it is incredible to think that Indonesia has 416 million mobile connections and 130 million individuals active on social media. Indonesian consumers spend on average nearly nine hours online every day. With an e-commerce penetration rate of just 11%, Indonesia’s online consumer goods market is worth US$7 billion and growing at more than 20 percent year-on-year.
A recent study by ATKearney found that the implementation of a radical digital agenda could add US$1 trillion to ASEAN’s GDP over the next decade. The question now is how can Australia and Australian companies help their ASEAN counterparts capture this enormous opportunity. This is a question that Telstra has already considered and is working to address in a variety of ways.
You can read David Burns’ full essay, A Connected ASEAN, on the Asia Society website.