Chinese tech giant Huawei has announced a series of memorandums of understanding (MOUs) that will see its involvement in Malaysia's digital transformation across national cybersecurity, small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) research and development, and university education.
The MOUs unveiled during Huawei Asia-Pacific Innovation Day 2017 in Kuala Lumpur on Thursday include partnerships between Huawei Malaysia and the state government of Terengganu, CyberSecurity Malaysia, SME Corp Malaysia, and Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS).
The cybersecurity MOU will involve Huawei's collaboration with the federal government on creating a "safer and more secure cyberspace" for the nation, the company explained.
Under the cybersecurity MOU, Huawei and CyberSecurity Malaysia -- an agency under the Ministry Of Science, Technology and Innovation -- will establish a steering committee to meet twice annually to examine technical standards issues and technology innovation, and develop approaches to identify and manage cyber threats, with a joint taskforce to then execute the committee's tasks.
Huawei will additionally run training courses with local industry through the CyberSecurity Malaysia Collaborative Partner (CCP) program.
"Our partnership with Huawei is aligned to our cybersecurity efforts with the nation's digital agenda, and will strengthen our capabilities in reinforcing the nation's cyberdefences to protect against escalating cyber threats," CyberSecurity Malaysia CEO Haji Amirudin Abdul Wahab said.
"In order to thrive in a digital economy, cybersecurity needs to be at the core of our digital transformation strategy."
The agreement with Terengganu will then see Huawei work with the state government on designing a digital transformation roadmap in line with the Malaysian federal government's digital transformation agenda.
The state roadmap will focus on four areas, according to Huawei: Broadband infrastructure, cloud infrastructure, technological innovation, and "human capital".
"The partnership will see the building of cost-effective IT infrastructure and datacentres promoting faster and stable broadband connection with a wider range of coverage," Huawei said.
Using this infrastructure, Huawei said Terengganu would be able to utilise Internet of Things (IoT) solutions across education, transport, healthcare, security, ecommerce, retail, industrial factories, smart homes, and energy.
As part of the agreement, Huawei will embark on a state-wide training program on the uses of such smart applications, as well as producing "a comprehensive and complete curriculum" across the state's public and private educational institutions, it said.
The SME Corp MOU, meanwhile, promotes cooperation between SMEs in Malaysia on technology R&D. SMEs will be given training by Huawei, and collaborate on a research paper looking into ecommerce, challenges, opportunities, talent development, policies, and infrastructure support.
According to the Malaysian government, its SMEs make up 99.2 percent of the nation's economy, with the government hoping that the Huawei partnership will ensure SMEs are able to compete globally.
Lastly, the MOU with UMS will see a smart campus initiative and industry programs established at the university.
Under the MOU, Huawei has been appointed as the university's technical and business advisor for its IT practices and smart campus strategy, which will see the tech giant design initiatives and training programs for students and teachers.
"Huawei will assist in tailoring a career-based development program for the students to equip them with the necessary skills to be able to compete in an emerging digital economy," the company said.
In addition, Huawei will ensure UMS is kitted out with smart application platforms, faster broadband, and wider wireless coverage across its campus.
Speaking during Huawei Innovation Day on Thursday, Huawei rotating CEO Guo Ping said Malaysia aims to become one of the world's top 20 economies by 2050 through initiatives like smart tourism, safe cities, and smart education.
The chief executive said Malaysia will need strong broadband networks, as well as cloud, artificial intelligence (AI), and IoT platforms to achieve these goals.
According to Guo Ping, "involvement at the national level is critical" to enable industries to go digital.
Also speaking on Thursday, Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) COO Ng Wan Peng said that during the 2017 Budget, the prime minister had announced that 2017 would be the "year of the digital economy", with 2018 to feature the Digital Transformation Acceleration Program.
Malaysia's digital economy contributed around 18.2 percent to GDP in 2016, with MDEC, a Malaysian government office, aiming for 20 percent of GDP by 2020, she said.
The government said it is driving this through a national AI framework and a cloud-first strategy for the public sector announced last month; with industry increasingly using data to make decisions, the MDEC COO explained that it is important that the nation develop its capabilities in AI.
"It's about time for us to expand our [big data] framework to an AI framework," she said, adding that at end of year, MDEC should have more news to announce on this.
The government also recently introduced its advanced data analytics and AI platform Insights, which provides information and insights on a centralised platform tracking immigration and the movement of goods within the country, for example.
Deputy Malaysian Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said Malaysia is targeting an increase of its broadband speeds to 25Mbps in rural areas and 100Mbps in metro areas by 2020.
The Philippines government is similarly focused on a national broadband program, its free Wi-Fi in public places program, a national government portal project, and legislative reforms to bring down barriers to telco investments, Philippines Department of Information and Communications Technology Undersecretary Monchito B Ibrahim told the conference.
Huawei announces Malaysian OpenLab
Huawei has announced that it will launch an OpenLab in Malaysia aimed at driving digital transformation across the entire Asia-Pacific region, allowing a co-development space for Huawei and its local tech partners.
Also announced on Thursday during Huawei's Asia-Pacific Innovation Day in Kuala Lumpur, the Malaysian OpenLab will be used in combination with Huawei's other labs across the world.
According to the rotating CEO, all countries need to work together on technology and innovation.
"We need to collaborate more broadly and share views across the ecosystem, including between industries and universities worldwide," Guo Ping said.
"Close collaboration between industry and academia will help ensure a thriving digital economy."
The announcement follows Huawei saying in September that it intends to have 24 OpenLabs across the globe by 2020.
Disclosure: Corinne Reichert travelled to Huawei Asia-Pacific Innovation Day in Kuala Lumpur as a guest of Huawei
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