Singapore Plots Path to High-Tech Leadership

In an effort to move toward global leadership in the high-tech industry, the Singapore government rolled out a three-pronged plan today that it hopes will double the country’s “infocomm” — information technology and telecommunications — revenues to $23.2 billion (US$) by 2005.

Other goals of the Infocommunications Development Authority (IDA), the agency behind the push, are to increase the export component of infocomm revenues from 50 to 70 percent and to increase the number of broadband users from 100,000 to 200,000 by the end of the year.

Singapore Online

Internet penetration in Singapore was 42 percent in 1999, according to the Information Technology Household Survey 1999. There are 764,680 home Internet users in the country, up from 114,368 in 1996, the IDA reports.

The IDA hopes to solicit both multinational and local Singapore companies to participate in the Infocomm Local Industry Upgrade Program and to establish 10 key collaborative projects between infocomm industry players, research institutions and vocational institutions by 2002.

On Monday, Singapore’s Minister for Communications and Information Technology, Yeo Cheow Tong, officially opened the country’s E-Biz Hub. “The infocomm revolution is here to stay. Our companies will increasingly be incorporating infocomm technology into all aspects of their business, in order to remain competitive and be linked to their customers, suppliers, and other business partners,” Tong said.

Interactive Broadband Multimedia

Singapore’s IDA wants to broadband-enable high-rise commercial buildings and industrial parks — creating “cyber-precincts” to jumpstart multimedia developments by startups and multinational companies. Hotels are being encouraged to offer broadband services to business travelers.

The IDA is also implementing the interactive broadband multimedia content hosting program, allowing companies overseas to host or hub their content in Singapore. By sharing the initial risk in new markets, the IDA believes companies will be more willing to develop innovative broadband multimedia content in Singapore.

The IDA also wants to encourage the development of new media services along the lines of wireless Internet, interactive TV, and new information appliances.

Innovation Through Partnership

The second prong of Singapore’s plan is innovation. The IDA believes that Singapore can take the lead in developing new e-commerce and broadband applications, mobile and wireless communications technology, software and smart devices.

Key to the initiative is the development of partnerships between multinational companies and local enterprises fostered by the Infocomm Local Industry Upgrade Program. Currently there are 9 multinational companies and 70 local enterprises taking part in the program.

Targeting India, China, and Silicon Valley

India and China, two emerging regional markets with immense growth potential, will be among Singapore’s first targets for overseas alliances. Singapore hopes to leverage the skills of its multilingual and multicultural population to translate and repackage original Asian content coming out of India and China for global use.

Singapore also hopes to attract qualified infocomm professionals from the vast pool of talent coming out of Asia to set up new dot-coms that will provide employment opportunities for Singaporeans.

Singapore has set up a liaison office in Silicon Valley, the mecca of all things high-tech. The IDA says that “Singapore sees Silicon Valley as a valuable partner, and hopes to build a strong relationship.”

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