MEASURING ASEAN DIGITAL PERFORMANCE
The COVID-19 pandemic has expedited the digitalisation of many sectors in the world, including in ASEAN. A new tool to measure ASEAN’s digital performance is expected to provide individual Member States with crucial information to improve and develop a secure, sustainable, and transformative digitally enabled economy both for themselves and the region.
At the beginning of the pandemic in 2020, Joanita Salim, an entrepreneur based in Jakarta, Indonesia, started selling children’s toys online. ‘I started the business by utilising local market places’, Salim said. Soon, she started utilising other digital platforms, such as Instagram and TikTok shops, that allowed her to tap into the wider ASEAN market, ‘Expanding the business would have been much harder before the digital era’.
Digitalisation and the digital economy remain strategic priorities for both the EU and ASEAN. ‘It has always been ASEAN’s aspiration to become a single market through numerous market integration initiatives’, Budi Yuwono, Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and Tourism Senior Officer of the ASEAN Secretariat said. Within the framework of the EU-ASEAN ICT Dialogue and facilitated by the Enhanced Regional EU-ASEAN Dialogue Instrument (E-READI), the ASEAN Digital Index (ADIX) is expected to accelerate the region’s digital transformation.
From 24 May to 17 June 2021, E-READI facilitated a series of 11 virtual capacity building workshops to further promote the development of the ADIX and enhance ASEAN capabilities in developing wellinformed digital policies that support the ASEAN Digital Single Market. Further capacity building and data collection will be organised regionally leading to ADIX launch in March 2023.
Beyond its monitoring aspect, the ADIX will also collect and disseminate harmonised data in the region. ‘The ADIX collects data on broadband infrastructure, measures digital skills of the people, how citizens and governments are using the internet, the number of businesses who are connected to the internet and how businesses are using it’, explained Paul Foley, E-READI’s International Digital Expert working on the development of the ADIX.
According to Yuwono, the pandemic has exacerbated many disparities in the community, including the unequal access to digital infrastructure and technology, ‘The ADIX will allow governments to take targeted actions to reduce these inequalities and better promote digital inclusion in the region’.