Data centres will create a thriving ecosystem around them; talent development remains govt’s priority

The investment boom that Malaysia is set to experience will not just be from the setting up of data centres, but also from the ecosystem around them.

Digital Minister Gobind Singh Deo said the establishment of more data centres in the country would also create new economic opportunities, and open up more jobs for locals within the respective localities.

“It’s not just about building data centres, but the ecosystem around them. This is where we will see more job, and economic opportunities – around these data centres,” said Gobind.

Gobind said this to reporters after visiting Macrokiosk’s new office in the heart of Kuala Lumpur on July 2. The enterprise solutions platform company, which turned 24 on July 3, is now a market leader in Malaysia, with offices abroad.

Microsoft, Google, and NVIDIA are some of the biggest brands that have committed billions of ringgit in investments via the setting up of data centres. Critics, however, argue that job opportunities within the industry was limited, as it required a highly skilled workforce.

Gobind had previously stressed that upskilling talents, among others, was equally important in the race to transform Malaysia into a digital nation, and to capitalise on the digital economy. Artificial intelligence (AI) technology also sits high on Putrajaya’s priority list, with programmes designed even for the people (AI Untuk Rakyat). This is to ensure that no one is left behind in Malaysia’s great digital push.

DC Byte’s 2024 Global Data Centre Index had named Johor Bahru as the fastest-growing market within Southeast Asia.

Data centres generally require massive space, energy, and water, for cooling. Malaysia boasts vast tracts of land and resources that are cheaper than Singapore. Also, the government is committed to introducing investor-friendly policies to remain competitive.

On July 3, Gobind attended the 2nd Annual Anti-Fraud Leaders’ Summit. There, he spoke about initiatives to ensure Malaysia continued to be resilient against cyberattacks and fraudulent online activities. They included the passing of the Cyber Security Bill 2024 in April, and the development of seven guidelines under the Personal Data Protection Act 2010.

Later in the day, Gobind joined a closed-door session, themed ‘Malaysia as a Global AI Hub’ at the J.P. Morgan Malaysia+ Forum. The other speaker was James Murphy, the Managing Director, APAC, of DC Byte. The session was moderated by Ranjan Sharma, J.P. Morgan’s Head of ASEAN TMT Equity Research.

Companies urged to create more learning environments

Gobind said his ministry is looking at talent development seriously, and urged companies to continue investing in learning programmes to ensure the local workforce remained relevant and competitive.

Speaking at the launch of Capital A’s Outclass edutech platform on July 4, Gobind said industries were grappling with challenges, as the world embraces the digital revolution, transforming the way people work, live and play.

“One of the ways for the Government to address these challenges is by working closely with all sectors. We need to truly understand the real concerns of the industry, hear directly from the workforce, and find ways to overcome these challenges,” said Gobind.

“The Ministry of Digital is looking at talent development very seriously and the multitude of challenges faced by industry players. We hope to present our findings, along with possible solutions, later this year,” he added.

Cabinet approves PDPA amendments

Separately, the Cabinet approved the proposed amendments to the Personal Data Protection Act 2010 (Act 709), which would be tabled in the current parliamentary session.

In a statement yesterday, Gobind said these amendments were needed to ensure that Malaysia’s personal data protection legislation aligns with global standards, changes and legal developments.

Gobind also met Takahashi Katsuhiko, the Ambassador of Japan to Malaysia, Hosomi Masashi, the Economic Counsellor, and the embassy’s First Secretaries, Hiraki Shingo and Motoyama Kazuhisa yesterday, as they discussed various matters including the Tokyo Game Show 2024 scheduled from Sept 26-29 in Mihama-ku, Chiba City, Chiba Prefecture, potential collaborations in cybersecurity, and data protection.

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