One industry report has the indicators to help the region get a better bearing, while offering recommendations for economic recovery, growth

What is the rate of progress made by countries within the Asia Pacific region (APAC) in becoming “fully fledged digital societies”?

According to the GSMA (Global System for Mobile Communications)’s seventh annual report on this metric, further collaboration is needed in the region to “encourage a consistent approach to integrating digital services into every sector of the economy.”

At the national level, Singapore has been rated at the front of the pack, leading the charge towards fulfilling digital nation ambitions by introducing one of the most successful digital identity programs, Singpass. The digital ID service serves 4.5m users, representing 97% of citizens and permanent residents above the age of 15. 

Similarly, South Korea has been given the highest score for digital citizenship, having boosted the use of e-government services from less than 50% in 2011 to 90% in 2021.

Also notable are India’s Aadhar national identity numbering system (more than 1.3bn registered users)  and Vietnam’s digital transformation plans to be rolled out over the next five years in 59 out of 63 localities, including 41 localities that are also developing smart city services.

Other key insights from the report include:

  • Digital technologies and services can help provide new growth opportunities for businesses of all sizes in the region, to aid in the region’s economic recovery.
  • A study by the Asian Development Bank has estimated that the region could reap an economic dividend from digitalization of more than US$1.7tn per year, or more than US$8.6tn over the five years to 2025.
  • Recent developments in the use of digital technologies have powered social and economic recovery in the aftermath of the pandemic. Indonesia is undertaking a comprehensive program for her tourism sector, which has seen 409,000 job losses. The program includes initiatives to extend 4G networks to 12,548 villages and the development of a digital platform for the Tourism Network Hub.

According to the report, APAC countries can support the realization of ‘digital nation ambitions’ by developing five key components: infrastructure, innovation, data governance, security and people.