Budget boost for ICT [New Straits Time (Malaysia)]
(New Straits Time (Malaysia) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) THE proposed Budget 2014 offers ICT goodies for the masses as well as entrepreneurs, writes Rozana Sani.
ICT-related highlights in Budget 2014:
* Second phase of HSBB (High Speed Broadband) project to be implemented in collaboration with private sector involving RM1.8 billion investment.
* Internet speed to be increased to 10 Mbps.
* To increase Internet coverage in rural areas, 1,000 telecommunications transmission towers to be built over next three years, with a RM1.5 billion investment.
* To increase Internet access in Sabah and Sarawak, new underwater cables will be laid within three years, at a cost of RM850 million.
* RM50 million allocation for Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Centre (MaGIC). MaGIC is a one-stop centre that provides entrepreneurs everything from getting financing from banks or venture capital to incubators for developing start-ups, from intellectual property registration to facilities for training, coaching and mentoring.
* Committed 1Malaysia Entrepreneurs (1MeT) to be given further guidance at MaGIC.
* Government targets 5,000 young entrepreneurs to be trained yearly.
E-COMMERCE TRAINER, CONSULTANT AND NETPRENEUR
"The government should have given a lot of thought to ICT this time around. Overall, I like it but the question is, how will it be implemented and executed?
"Where funding is concerned, it is imperative to make the process more transparent and hassle-free. A lot of funding out there are too targeted. Many entrepreneurs are ignorant of the available funding because information is not spread evenly nationwide. They are given the impression that it's only available for Bumiputera, that approval takes too long and the most annoying part is, you have to be in the business for six months to show your performance. If the funding is aimed at getting you started on your business, how can we do a six-month business without capital?
"As for the RM50 million allocation for Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Centre, I hope this one-stop centre is spread out nationwide and that the incubating, the coaching, the training and etc, are done by qualified individuals and companies. Execution is crucial and spreading this info to the public is also essential because to reach out to the rural folks would take much more effort than the urban folks. We need to make sure that the appointed centres are serious with MaGIC and not just do it for the money/budget.
"With the anticipated proliferation of broadband, I hope to see lower subscription rates. Also subsidised licenses of development kits for future developers and programmers that will help them to excel."
NOOR SHAHIWAN ISMAIL
"The proposed budget on ICT is quite intensive but not comprehensive. I welcome the initiative to improve infrastructure and coverage of the Internet. The aim is to increase the speed, which no doubt is critical, especially in high population city. However, I would like to emphasise on tools and content to be integrated with the Internet for users. Also, focus should be given for non-affluent users to acquire the gadgets and hardware in order for them to utilise the Internet.
"I applaud the initiative to improve communication infrastructure and nurture entrepreneurship. As a solar technology system provider, it means more perspective and opportunity for us to introduce our technology especially in rural Peninsula, Sabah and Sarawak. If the broadband Internet is the wireless communication solution for rural people, we are the 'wireless' energy provider for them because they do not require grid line for electricity to power up their equipment. We can harvest the energy from the sunlight for them.
"As far as entrepreneurship is concerned, the government initiative is good for the business ecosystem. We can utilise facilities and assistance provided by MaGIC to expand our business plus we are glad to join the effort to create young entrepreneurs like us. Even though there are some concerns on the overlapping functions with other agencies, for us it is always important for entrepreneurs to have wide options of assistance to improve their business venture. The agency should have sufficient expertise in every area, not only administrators."
NASRUL AMRI SAMSUDIN
CEO, XADIRA GAMES
"As an ICT entrepreneur, I view the budget for 2014 as a good initiative. The expansion of high-speed broadband as well as Internet coverage throughout the country bodes well for the country as access is a basic necessity in today's digital world. I expect it will help to nurture more netpreneurs and appspreneurs as more people can start selling and buying online throughout the country.
"With regards to MaGIC, it is a great news for new entrepreneurs because it will offer clear information on funding/training/ coaching/etc because otherwise, they will have to go to different places or agencies just to get these information. By having MaGIC, new entrepreneurs will have the opportunity to grow from zero to hero since all the facilities are under one roof.
"The government's target to train 5,000 young entrepreneur yearly is a good effort that could lead towards a high-income country. However, it must be well-implemented so that it will actually create jobs. Without proper training and coaching, new and young entrepreneurs are liable to make mistakes in business, which they can avoid if there are experienced and successful mentors to guide them."
NURAIZAH SHAMSUL BAHARIN
PRESIDENT, ASSOCIATION OF BUMIPUTRA WOMEN ENTREPRENEURS
"While commendable, our current broadband speed is 4Mbps and the expected speed after investment is 10Mbps, which is better but nowhere near the speed in Korea and Singapore (38-39Mbps). To be able to compete globally, we need to increase our Internet speed to at par.
"As for the allocation for entrepreneurs, I understand the focus is on young entrepreneurs. But I would also like to see more effort spent on those who are growing their business. We are trying to take our business to the next level but don't have the resources to expand globally.
"Furthermore, we want to see online business and software businesses acknowledged as fundable businesses - currently, banks will not fund online businesses or businesses without large fixed assets. How do we grow without financial support? We're asking for loans not grants.
"As a one-stop centre, MaGIC should look at what happens next after creating these entrepreneurs. Work with the non-governmental organisations to create an industry led support network and growth that is independent of the government because entrepreneurship is experienced in real life, not just training."
NETPRENEUR/FOUNDER OF EDYMALL.COM
"The budget is very encouraging towards further growth of online businesses, taking into account the allocation for Internet access infrastructure improvement. Everybody will have the opportunity to initiate an online venture with the right training and support.
"EdyMall is a platform that not only assists entrepreneurs to get online but also helps to develop the business reach. So the increased broadband speed and coverage will enable more would-be online entrepreneurs to join us as well as other platforms. This will allow the proliferation of "kampung" products to get bigger markets or even global markets.
"My only hope is that there will be an effort to educate new and existing users on protecting themselves against cyber security threats when transacting online."
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