His Excellency CHEA Vandeth, Minister of Posts and Telecommunications

His Excellency Pablo KANG, Australian Ambassador to the Kingdom of Cambodia

Excellencies, distinguished participants, colleagues, ladies and gentlemen,

Chom riep sur, good afternoon,

I am delighted to welcome you all to this virtual launch ceremony of the Stronger with Digital Coalition Transition. My sincere thanks to His Excellency Minister Chea Vandeth, His Excellency Ambassador Pablo Kang, and distinguished particpants, for joining us and demonstrating your support for this initiative.

In collaboration with Australian Aid, UNDP has initiated this digital coalition in support of the Royal Government of Cambodia’s Digital Economy Transformation, which is expected to contribute to building a robust economy amidst and post the COVID-19 pandemic. There are 2 main objectives in initiating this coalition: first, to raise awareness of the benefits of the adoption of e-commerce; and second, to build and improve the capacity of MSMEs on digital ways of doing business. The ultimate goal of this initiative is to increase e-commerce activities among enterprises and consumers.

This initiative was commenced in April this year and will end in November this year. Hence, we do hope that more enterprises and consumers will join us in achieving the ambitious objectives of the coalition.

Excellencies, distinguished participants and colleagues,

As you know, Cambodia is a small country with an open economy, in which trade plays an important role. COVID-19 has put a strain on global demand and affected the Cambodian economy significantly, particularly the local SMEs. The unprecedented event of a global pandemic highlights the need for new and efficient business models, which leverage digital pathways to adapt to the current disruption in market conditions.

To accommodate disruptions caused by the pandemic and its negative impacts, e-commerce is seen as an important tool for Cambodia’s transition to a digital economy. It has significant potential to diversify the economy, create new jobs, and increase financial inclusion, as well as contribute to improved quality of lives and livelihoods[1]. An increase in the use of e-commerce by consumers and enterprises could also potentially increase competition and productivity, and encourage diversification of production and exports[2].

However, studies conducted by UNDP Cambodia found that key challenges for e-commerce development in Cambodia include a lack of digitalization adoption among MSMEs, limited e-commerce skills, and low digital literacy.

In recognition of these key gaps and challenges, UNDP Cambodia, supported by Australian Aid and facilitated by The Idea Consultancy, has initiated this digital coalition to support 2 main streams of activities: first, a public awareness campaign on the benefits of e-commerce adoption, and second, capacity building of SMEs on e-commerce.

Since its inception in April, this initiative has so far yielded notable results, with a total outreach and engagement of approximately half a million vendors and consumers across the country. To be specific, we now have over 500 SMEs directly engaging in our training program on digital skills, and have engaged over 500,000 SMEs and consumers in our e-commerce awareness campaign on the benefits of digital solutions and digital payment systems.

This would not be possible without the strong support from our strategic partners, including Australian Aid, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunication, the Cambodia Digital Tech Association, the Cambodia Woman Entrepreneur Association, the Federation of Association for Small and Medium Enterprises of Cambodia, Volunteer Nation, and private sector actors.

Taking this opportunity, we are also happy to transfer this knowledge network from our program to the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunication, to further develop and sustain this asset for more sustainable development in the e-commerce ecosystem. We greatly appreciate that the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications has supported the coalition from its inception stage, and has agreed to continue to support the information and collateral needs of MSMEs for digitization, as well as selling profitably online and in accordance with the legal framework.

In closing, I would like to reiterate our appreciation to the Government of Australia through the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade – DFAT) for the continuous support to our programme. In addition, to our other strategic partners, including the relevant ministries and other stakeholders, for supporting this program and making this event happen.

Once again, thank you to all for joining us today. I wish everyone good health, wellbeing and prosperity.

Thank you! Orkun Chroeun!

 

[1] Cambodia Rapid eTrade Readiness Assessment | UNCTAD

[2] Unleashing E-Commerce for South Asian Integration (worldbank.org)

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