The Digital Council of Thailand (DCT) is working with the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI) to turn the country into a digital innovation hub in Asean through the development of data centres and artificial intelligence (AI) capability.
The two organisations also plan to drive digital transformation as well as reskill and upskill the digital workforce to be ready to cope with digital disruption and upcoming 5G adoption.
"The DCT's vision is to improve the digital industry to be at the forefront of the digital economy and social development in the world," said Suphachai Chearavanont, chief executive of Charoen Pokphand Group and chairman of the executive committee of True Corporation, who was made the first chairman of the DCT on Oct 7.
He was speaking at a meeting between the DCT and the FTI on Tuesday.
To become a digital innovation hub, the country first needs to have a carrier-neutral data centre, Mr Suphachai said. It must include data residency for AI analytics capability.
Thailand aims to be an early adopter of 5G in Asia.
"The upcoming 5G adoption will make more bandwidth available and accelerate the use of the Internet of Things and data analytics," he said.
Data centres will reduce the cost of data transfer as data centres owned by Google and Amazon are located in Singapore.
The Thai Chamber of Commerce, DCT and FTI have agreed to establish a data centre. The Thai Bankers' Association will be invited to help create one for the benefit of the country, said Mr Suphachai.
There needs to be cooperation between the public and private sectors. For example, the government must provide incentives for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to enhance their digital capability, he said.
Mr Suphachai said the government can set aside 10% of the country's reserves, or 668 billion baht, as incentives for SMEs to invest in automation, improving capacity and upskilling and reskilling the workforce.
It is crucial for the government to support online self-learning or university courses related to engineering, data analytics and science, he said. All citizens must be included in digital development, and efforts must be made to turn Thailand into an innovation hub, including cloud technology and AI, said Mr Suphachai.
He stressed the DCT will assist FTI members in digital and industry transformation.
FTI chairman Suphan Mongkolsuthree said his organisation supports the the data centre and wants the DCT to help train its members' workers in digital skills.
He said the FTI plans to set up an innovation and technology fund to raise funds from leading business operators for innovative SMES and startups.