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ASEAN Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Market Profile

Executive Summary

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has an estimated total population of 605 million people and an estimated total GDP of US $2.2 trillion. It is made up of 10 member states: Brunei Darussalam, Burma, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

ASEAN is working toward the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) by 2015 and one component of this is the ASEAN ICT Master Plan 2015. The Plan is an ambitious one that aims to leverage coordinated investment in ICT infrastructure to foster economic growth and bridge the digital divide across the region. The roll-out plan places an emphasis on information security, IPR (Intellectual Property Rights) and the use of ICT in education and government.

While there is large variance across Southeast Asia's ICT infrastructure landscape, there are common factors driving new technology development, largely stemming from the region's increasing economic integration, which in turn has several important implications for ICT technology purchase. Intra-regional trade and investment and robust domestic demand has made ASEAN one of the fastest-growing economic regions (an average of over 6% GDP expansion annually for most of the last decade) in the world. The fact that carriers and enterprises largely avoided the Global Financial Crisis has meant it is easier for them to make investment decisions on next-generation technology, such as LTE (Long-term Evolution) roll-outs and other 4G mobile upgrades, or big data solutions. This economic robustness, and the virtuous cycle of regional integration that has supported it, has also facilitated cross-ownership in telecom and particularly mobile network operations (Singapore's SingTel and Malaysian operators, notably Axiata, hold stakes in operators in Thailand, Indonesia and elsewhere).

Social Media Impact

While consumers in emerging economies around Asia and the world have rapidly taken up social media platforms as a tool to connect, communicate and in some cases conduct commerce, Southeast Asia is home to a uniquely and particularly enthusiastic collection of social media consumers.  Many ASEAN hub cities have extremely large FaceBook populations; Bangkok and Jakarta are considered the world's top two cities in the world in terms of FaceBook 'density' per 100 people. While this hasn't—yet—resulted in the development of many new technology companies, it has begun to put upward pressure on Internet and mobile network bandwidth requirements, and mobile data consumer expectations.  The use of mobile social network applications will likely drive carrier adoption of more advanced cellular network transmission technology, and perhaps backhaul traffic management solutions to allow carriers to accommodate more data from demanding, but low revenue-generating, customers.

ASEAN's Economies

ASEAN's ICT market reflects the diversity of its members' stages of development.  At one end of the spectrum, countries such as Burma are still building out their initial telecommunications infrastructure and offer opportunity in this area.  (Burma just announced it is issuing two telecom licenses to help boost the country's mobile penetration rate from its current 9% to a target of 80% by 2016.)   Countries such as Thailand are working to keep up with the evolving demands of their rapidly growing middle class; and Singapore has tech savvy consumers interested in the latest mobile apps and the disposable income to spend on them.

For a full copy of the market profile, please contact the ASEAN ICT team leader, Guy Belanger (guy.belanger@international.gc.ca).


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