The World Economic Forum sets up APAC's first C4IR in Malaysia. Here's what it means for the nation

The World Economic Forum sets up APAC’s first C4IR in Malaysia. Here’s what it means for the nation.Source: WEF

World Economic Forum sets up APAC’s first C4IR in Malaysia

  • Focusing on digital transformation and fast-growing sectors, including green energy transition, the Centre for 4IR is also expected to spur economic recovery.
  • The Centre, hosted by MyDIGITAL Corporation, will be a public-private platform.
  • The Centre hosted two roundtable discussions to address its thematic priorities, with findings expected to be shared with the public soon.

About a year ago, the Ministry of Finance Malaysia announced that the government would set up a Centre For 4th Industrial Revolution (C4IR) to accelerate post-pandemic economic recovery. The independent Center within the World Economic Forum (WEF) was also meant to support Malaysia’s overarching vision under its 4IR Policy launched in 2021 and the Malaysia Digital Economy Blueprint.

Unfortunately, due to the country’s political crisis, the C41R remained in pipelines. Fast forward to this week, almost a year later, the government, under the premiership of Anwar Ibrahim, had moved forward to launch the Centre. Also dubbed Malaysia Centre for 4IR, it was officially launched on May 15 by the Minister of Economy, Rafizi Ramli, and the President of the World Economic Forum, Børge Brende. 

The Centre, hosted by MyDIGITAL Corporation, a national initiative to transform Malaysia into a digitally-driven, high-income nation, and a regional leader, is also the first such Center in the Asia Pacific region and the 19th globally for the World Economic Forum. 

“This initiative marks a significant milestone in Malaysia’s journey towards becoming a global leader in technology governance and innovation,” Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim said in his pre-recorded speech at the launch yesterday.

With this launch, Malaysia joins a community of 18 other Centers where new and innovative approaches to technology governance, adoption, and scaling are being developed and implemented at the national, regional, and international levels.

What exactly is the function of the Malaysia Centre for 4IR in economic recovery?

According to WEF, its C4IR Network is a global platform for helping leaders anticipate exponential technologies and accelerate their inclusive and sustainable adoption. 

When it comes to Malaysia, what is known so far is the fact that the Center will focus on; 

  • Digital Transformation and GovTech: focusing on areas to accelerate the next phase of growth for Malaysia’s digital transformation agenda and the role that we can play in facilitating regional efforts for the digital transformation of ASEAN; and 
  • Energy Transition: supporting Malaysia’s Energy Policy 2022-2040 to successfully navigate the energy transition and the development of the green economy while balancing issues such as energy security, affordability, and environmental sustainability. 

In his speech at the event launch, Malaysia’s Minister of Economy Rafizi Ramli reckoned the C4IR comes at the right time as the country stands at the point of acceleration. “The Centre will serve as a focal point between the public and private sector to problem solve and pilot projects, besides serving as a knowledge center where top experts, innovators, and policymakers congregate to share their insights.”

Rafizi believes that as much as the Centre matters and is crucial, the people who occupy it matter more. In a press conference following the launch, he also explained in detail how the Centre would bring together leaders from government, business, civil society, academia, and other sectors to advance new partnerships and initiatives that can unlock the value of technology for Malaysia in the economic sector and society. 

Anwar also reckoned during his speech that the Malaysia Centre for 4IR will further strengthen Malaysia’s human-centered policy towards the Fourth Industrial Revolution and contribute towards the nation’s target of entering the Top 20 in the Global Innovation Index. 

“We are confident that a resilience-oriented approach will also improve the nation’s People’s Wellbeing Index score and enhance productivity to create inclusive, balanced, responsible, and sustainable economic growth,” he added.

What is next?

Currently, it is only known that the Centre will mainly focus on how it can achieve some digital transformation and economic goals in Malaysia. However, following yesterday’s official launch, the Centre hosted two roundtable discussions to address its thematic priorities.

Leaders from business, government, and other sectors were invited to share their key priorities and opportunities for the energy transition and digital transformation. Insights from the roundtables, which have yet to be made public, will serve as the foundation for the Malaysia Centre for 4IR’s core initiatives, informing its strategic planning and program development.