Technology is and has been at the forefront of our developing world. To a certain extent, our quality of life is determined by how much access we have to technology – whether at work or at play. Smartphones, online classes, and virtual games give us access to convenience, communication, cash and commerce – yet this access is not granted to everyone. Those who are left behind are usually marginalised, rural communities that have a sparse internet connection and they rely heavily on hard cash to purchase daily necessities.
While Malaysia is evolving into a developed nation, the growth in technological advancements must also include universal digital inclusion for all, not only those who can afford it .
This includes the Orang Asli (OA) community living on the urban fringes.
Encouraging Digital Inclusivity Among The OA Community
Realising the isolation faced by the OA community, The National Corridor Implementation Authority (NCIA) has collaborated with Kiplepay Sdn Bhd. This collaboration will foster and support digital literacy for the OA community in Perak.
We aim to help eradicate poverty among Malaysia’s low-income communities which is in line with the 12th Malaysia Plan by enabling mobile merchants to adopt this feature with Kiplepay’s cashless cards. – Datuk Jebasingam Issace John, NCIA CEO 
Through this financial aid initiative, the federal government will hand out prepaid cards of RM250 per month, via the Kasih Ibu Darul Ridzuan (KIDR) programme. The monthly aid would allow them to purchase basic goods from local and mobile vendors.
To a large extent, this alleviates the burden borne by the lack of a fixed source of income and the Covid-19 pandemic. – Johara Binti Pandak, Orang Asli recipient from Pos Raya, Kampung Kepayang, Perak
In 2021, the initiative was proven successful for 1094 Orang Asli out of 4701 recipients and 25 OA merchants out of 150. As the initiative continues in 2022, it also aims to help the OA community break out of poverty and upskill digital literacy among the OA communities.
Although an estimated 30.8% of the destitute OA community are illiterate – digital inclusivity can change things for the better.
This move will further encourage communities in rural areas to embrace digital solutions in their lives, opening them up to more opportunities in the future. – Datuk Jebasingam Issace John, NCIA CEO
The Benefits Of Digital Inclusion
Digital inclusion is the ability of individuals and groups to access and use information and communications technologies (ICT). However, there are other crucial aspects to optimise the usage of ICT. These include digital content and services and digital literacy skills.
Why is this digital inclusivity so important? Many sectors such as education, health care, and banking have developed through digital means. They have innovated their services with the help of technology. For instance, the switch from face-to-face classrooms to online classes, telemedicine services and online banking.
Technological advancements are part and parcel of growth, therefore, vulnerable and rural communities must be included – otherwise, they will be left behind or at a disadvantage.
We are now in a new normal. As such, connectivity must be a top priority, and stakeholders such as telcos and industry verticals, multinational corporations, and governmental and non-governmental organisations must mobilise to develop strategies to accelerate digital inclusion. – Tan Sri Annuar Musa, Communications and Multimedia Minister
For the OA community, a cashless purchasing experience means spending less time handling, storing and depositing paper money. They would also save on travel costs and time getting to ATM machines to withdraw or deposit wads of cash. Additionally, there is also less risk when they are not carrying stacks of money while going to the store.
Digital inclusion must be considered in all other aspects of living such as health, education and employment. It is clear that technology and its advancements are a useful tool to uplift communities.
Explore Our Sources
- Inclusive Docs. (2022). What Is Digital Inclusion And Why Is It Important? Link.
- The Malaysian Reserve. (2022). NCIA, Kiplepay to cultivate tech literacy for Orang Asli communities. Link.
- Ministry of Communications and Multimedia Malaysia. (2021). Malaysia Needs Inclusive Digital Transformation To Achieve Vibrant Digital Economy. Link.
- The Borgen Project. (2019). Digital Inclusion in Malaysia: Access for Orang Asli. Link