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Mabims 2023: Bridging Digital Divide for Inclusive Growth in the Region.

Mabims 2023: Bridging Digital Divide for Inclusive Growth in the Region

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the digital transformation of societies and economies worldwide. It has highlighted both the opportunities and challenges of the digital revolution, and the urgent need to bridge the digital divide. The Mekong sub-region (Mabims) is no exception, and the Mabims 2023 initiative aims to promote inclusive growth through digital connectivity and innovation.

Mabims is an intergovernmental organization that includes Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam. It was established in 1992 to promote cooperation and integration in the region, particularly in the areas of trade, investment, and tourism. Over the years, Mabims has implemented various programs and projects to enhance regional connectivity, such as the Greater Mekong Subregion Economic Cooperation Program and the Mekong Tourism Forum.

However, despite progress in infrastructure development and economic growth, the Mekong sub-region still lags behind in digital connectivity and innovation. According to the World Bank, the average fixed broadband speed in the Mekong sub-region is only 12.2 Mbps, compared to the global average of 73.6 Mbps. The digital divide between urban and rural areas, as well as between rich and poor, is also evident in the region.

The Mabims 2023 initiative aims to address these challenges by promoting digital connectivity, innovation, and literacy in the region. It has four main pillars: digital infrastructure, digital innovation, digital literacy, and digital inclusion. Under each pillar, various programs and projects will be implemented to achieve the objectives of the initiative.

The digital infrastructure pillar focuses on improving the quality and coverage of broadband networks, particularly in rural and remote areas. It includes initiatives such as the Mabims Digital Connectivity Fund, which aims to finance the construction of last-mile connectivity infrastructure in underserved areas. It also includes partnerships with the private sector to enhance the deployment of 5G networks and other advanced technologies.

The digital innovation pillar aims to foster a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship in the region. It includes initiatives such as the Mabims Innovation Challenge, which encourages startups and SMEs to develop digital solutions for pressing social and economic challenges. It also includes collaboration with international partners to promote technology transfer and exchange of best practices.

The digital literacy pillar aims to improve the digital skills and knowledge of the population, particularly in underserved communities. It includes initiatives such as the Mabims Digital Literacy Program, which provides training and resources for students, teachers, and community members on basic digital skills, online safety, and digital citizenship. It also includes collaboration with civil society organizations and academia to promote research and advocacy on digital literacy.

The digital inclusion pillar aims to ensure that no one is left behind in the digital economy. It includes initiatives such as the Mabims Inclusive Digital Economy Program, which promotes digital financial services, e-commerce, and other digital platforms for underprivileged communities. It also includes collaboration with the government and other stakeholders to develop policies and regulations that promote digital inclusion and protect consumer rights.

In conclusion, the Mabims 2023 initiative provides a comprehensive and ambitious roadmap for bridging the digital divide in the Mekong sub-region. By promoting digital infrastructure, innovation, literacy, and inclusion, it aims to achieve inclusive growth and sustainable development in the region. The key to its success will be the commitment and cooperation of all stakeholders, including the government, the private sector, civil society, and the community. Together, they can unlock the full potential of the digital revolution and create a better future for all.