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Singapore’s government has officially launched an agency that will help the country’s organisations and citizens make the most of digital technology.
First announced in February this year, the Info-communications Media Development Authority of Singapore (IMDA) is the result of a merger between the previously Media Development Autority (MDA) and the Info-communications Development Authority of Singapore (IDA).
The Singaporean government hopes the organisation will help businesses, workers and the local community to ride the current global transformation wave, with digital technology being adopted by consumers, governments and business.
The IMDA’s task includes developing a strong IT and media sector to boost economic growth and diversification, creating regulations that encourage organisations and people to develop and use technologies, and improve citizens’ lives through technology.
IMDA CEO Gabriel Lim said the organisation was spurred on by the convergence of infocom and media. “Our role is to lead Singapore into a digital future where there is much more convergence, where technology is going to be much more pervasive and where digital transformation is going to fundamentally change the way we work, live and operate as people and businesses,” he said.
Lim said there were concerns about what digital transformation meant for Singapore, but the IMDA would show there were “opportunities to be reaped” for all groups.
“For the workforce, the IMDA will look at how it can equip it with more skills to be able to do well in a world where convergence and digitalisation will become much more important,” said Lim.
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He said the transformation was starting early, with schools and pre-schools introducing support to help children learn about digital technology. For example, coding support is coming from the Code@SG movement, which ensures coding and computational thinking is taught to students from an early age in an attempt to make it a national capability.
The IMDA also organises an ICT and media workshop on a bus that visits schools across the city.
Lim said IT and media skills should go right across society. The IMDA would play a key role in driving digital and media businesses to contribute more to the country’s economy, he added.
For communities, Lim said the IMDA would try to prevent a digital divide, with parts of the community getting left behind. “Everyone, including vulnerable groups and low-income households, must be part of this journey,” he said, pointing out that the IMDA has a digital inclusion programme.
Lim said Singapore must emulate some of its successes of the past when it comes to digital IT and media.
“If you look at Singapore’s growth and development since independence, one thing we have done well is to ride on every successive wave of transformation and position ourselves for growth,” he said.
When Singapore became independent in 1965, said Lim, it positioned itself as a sea hub with a huge port. Then it moved to higher-value manufacturing and then into services, including financial services. He now believes digital IT and media could offer future economic growth for Singapore and improve its society.