Evaluating the progress of 'quick win' projects
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Evaluating the progress of 'quick win' projects

Most of the policies for 2024 are on track, but an attempt to offer digital talent visas has stalled

The FTI views AI as a 'co-worker' for manufacturers, helping to enhance their competitiveness even if it means some jobs will be replaced by the technology.
The FTI views AI as a 'co-worker' for manufacturers, helping to enhance their competitiveness even if it means some jobs will be replaced by the technology.

Many digital projects being developed under the Digital Economy and Society (DES) Ministry's "quick win" policy for 2024 are on track, thanks to cooperation from related agencies.

However, the global digital talent visa scheme, which is one of six core projects, has shown little progress. The scheme aims to create a digital manpower ecosystem that can accelerate the country's digital transformation.


The quick win policy has targets of 100 days, six months and one year. The policies are being implemented by the Digital Economy Promotion Agency (Depa) under the ministry.

The six projects comprise: the artificial intelligence (AI) and cloud policy; the global digital talent visa; one tambon, one drone (Otod); e-sports; coding; and a digital catalogue for state procurement.

Depa president Nuttapon Nimmanphatcharin told the Bangkok Post implementation of these projects aims to shape the economy and improve the country's competitiveness.

He said there are several challenges facing the AI and cloud ecosystem policy, ranging from a growing trade deficit caused by the importation of AI technology to a lack of intensive use of AI among digital tech service providers and the public's low level of AI literacy.

The 100-day target for the AI and cloud ecosystem policy includes adjusting the Board of Investment's (BoI) measures to attract AI and cloud importers through proper incentives.

More representatives from the private sector are expected to be appointed to the National AI Committee, while greater collaboration among state agencies is needed to bolster the AI industry in Thailand, said Mr Nuttapon.

He said Depa is cooperating with the BoI to support studies related to AI and cloud policy.

The BoI already launched some measures, such as a 13-year tax-free period to encourage AI importers to jointly invest in AI development within the Eastern Economic Corridor.

The six-month target for AI and cloud policy includes Depa coordinating the building of an AI district in the Thailand Digital Valley in Chon Buri. Depa wants to increase the number of startups providing AI software-as-a-service through the Thailand digital catalogue from 10 at present to more than 20.

The agency also targets at least 50 local startups using AI tech intensively, said Mr Nuttapon.

The one-year target calls for Depa to help attract AI importers to invest and register as juristic persons in the country.

In addition, the agency wants to grow the number of major AI tech providers in Thailand from two players at present to four, he said.

Depa also set a one-year target to develop guidelines for generative, deep synthesis and responsible AI to help the Electronic Transactions Development Agency enforce AI guidelines.

The agency aims to have at least 20 state agencies using AI in their operations, while reducing the cost of damage caused by AI-driven digital platforms by 10 billion baht within one year, said Mr Nuttapon.

The government announced last year the creation of a new National AI Committee, comprising experts and representatives from the state and business sectors.


Regarding the progress of the Otod project, 250 communities applied to join the project, which provides large drones to communities and trains them in drone maintenance to promote the development of smart farming.

Depa plans to provide a matching fund to these communities next month. The project provides a 60% subsidy for the acquisition of a drone, with each community paying the remainder.

In terms of e-sport development, the agency spent 40 million baht to cultivate game developers through co-investment in startups related to gaming, animation and characters.

The project will hold an e-bidding process in collaboration with related associations and e-sport businesses to develop e-sport learning centres, as well as cooperate with schools to provide tournaments and online e-sport courses for students, he said.

Depa expects to open three e-sport learning centres within six months and another three within one year, said Mr Nuttapon.

The coding project calls for the development of related digital infrastructure for 1,500 schools nationwide. Some 700 schools are in the pipeline, with the number expected to reach 1,500 by June 2024, he said.

The project intends to ensure 3,000 teachers understand coding within one year.

In terms of the Thailand digital catalogue, more than 100 products and services are listed. The agency is encouraging all state agencies to explore the catalogue and make use of the services and products.

The catalogue contains a range of qualified digital offerings that can be selected by the government or private sector for procurement.

Mr Nuttapon said Depa is waiting to list cloud services in the catalogue, pending their scores on a security test and fundamental test.


The one policy hitting a snag is the global digital talent visa, as the operations of various agencies have clouded the matter, he said.

The DES Ministry submitted a proposal and guidelines for the development of the scheme to the prime minister for a specific period. The issue is being considered by the deputy prime minister.

According to Depa's time frame, it plans to propose the scheme's development to the cabinet for its approval within 100 days, hoping to attract at least 10,000 visa applicants within one year.

The visa scheme is meant to attract foreign students studying subjects related to the cloud, AI and deep tech to spend time in Thailand for 1-2 years as they could eventually become employees in the country's digital workforce.

A veteran in the digital industry who requested anonymity said this visa is principally aimed at foreign students at Chulalongkorn, Mahidol and other universities ranked within the top 600.

The scheme requires cooperation from several agencies, including the Interior Ministry, the Foreign Affairs Ministry and the DES Ministry.

"This visa is one of most practical ways to help boost the country's digital workforce via digital nomads," said the digital veteran.

Thailand can produce around 20,000 tech-related graduates per year, far short of the industry demand for 100,000 per year, said the veteran.

"This is a huge gap, so serious implementation of this policy is needed as soon as possible," said the source.


The Federation of Thai Industries (FTI) views AI as a "co-worker" for manufacturers, helping to enhance their competitiveness even if it means some jobs would be replaced by the technology.

Several training sessions have been organised to help FTI members understand AI and improve their manufacturing processes to better compete with global rivals.

"Industries need to use AI to do more jobs together with people," said Suphan Mongkolsuthree, honorary chairman of the FTI.

A recent study conducted by the federation on the impact of AI in the manufacturing sector found the technology is likely to replace staff doing administrative work, followed by legal experts and engineers.

The technology could also complete some tasks currently done by financial specialists and sales representatives.

However, AI is less likely to replace cleaners or people carrying out building maintenance jobs. Jobs involving construction and demolition still depend on human labour rather than AI, according to the FTI study.

Mr Suphan said entrepreneurs need to know what advantages AI will bring to their factory operations and how it will affect the employment of their workers.

As Thailand promotes S-curve industries that depend on technological innovations to a large extent, businesses need to start thinking about how to make use of AI to manage work processes and improve competitiveness, said Kriengkrai Thiennukul, chairman of the FTI.

"AI is an essential issue for entrepreneurs," said Mr Kriengkrai.

"We are planning to set up a new unit named AI innovation under the FTI to help build on our work regarding this technology."

He said he agrees with the government's announcement last year on the creation of a new National AI Committee, comprised of experts and representatives from the state and business sectors.

The government has yet to invite the FTI to sit on the committee, said Mr Kriengkrai.

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